Feed Blending: Sunlight and Congress


I enjoy modifying structures responsible for the form our awareness takes, that’s one of the reasons I was initially drawn to examine the availability of public information. In making the transition to working full time on transparency advocacy, I spent a great deal of time restructuring my information consumption habits. Politics and government function through a complex information economy, and one’s profile as an information consumer (and creator) can dictate your relevance. Blogs and the Internet only increase this trend, so the information ecosystems we rely on demand more customization and cultivation.

One of the tools I rely on to stay aware is netvibes. Several similar aggregators work basically the same, and I’m accustomed to this one. Feed aggregators’ usefullness is multiplied by services like yahoo pipes, which allow multiple feeds to be combined, or even transformed with basic operations and filters. My favorite pipe is the blended Sunlight Foundation feed, an option on the left side of sunlightfoundation.com, which lets me follow every post from all of the Sunlight Foundation blogs, along with citations from Paul Blumenthal’s Ethics Watch, featuring links to ethics articles, often from the Hill and Roll Call.

Here’s the feed as it appears on my customized netvibes page:

blended feeds cap.jpg

and here’s what the feed looks like when being edited in yahoo pipes:

When Paul recently searched for members of Congress with blogs, I combined them into one unwieldy pipe, which lets you see every blog post from Congress (or most of them) in order. I’m not sure what the practical side of this might be, but if someone wants to play with it, that feed is available here.