Sunlight is launching a new project this morning — OpenCongress.org — that we are very excited about. This is is joint effort with the amazing team from the Participatory Politics Foundation — a group based in Worcester, Mass. that builds open-source software and web tools for civic engagement.
Think of this as a user-friendly Thomas, on steriods. We've brought together critically important information about what is happening in Congress –legislation and issue focused — and combined that with what bloggers and the mainstream media are most talking about. We've added a component of social wisdom tracking what's hot and what's most-viewed on the site itself, along with what others are writing about. There are lots of links to other Sunlight projects like Congresspedia and Sunlight grantees like OpenSecrets.org. We are aiming to to offer a comprehensive, understandable, user-friendly snapshot of every bill and Member of Congress.
For example, you'll find:
* Official government information from Thomas, made available by GovTrack.us
* News and blog coverage of Congress from Google News and Technorati
* Links to profiles of each Member of Congress on the publicly-editable wiki Congresspedia
* Campaign contribution information from the non-profit OpenSecrets.org
* The Congress Gossip Blog, written by OpenCongress site editors, a blog that highlights useful news & blog reporting from around the web.
We hope that bloggers, and activists and researchers link to OpenCongress when discussing a bill, a Member of Congress, or an issue area. We think the new site will help make the Congressional activities more understandable to a wide audience.
The next four months of this site are a beta phase. We are actively soliciting comments and feedback so please let us know what you think…what new features you'd like, how we can make it even more "friendly" and useful.