Linking to Sections


In Sarah Lai Striland’s write-up of‘s launch yesterday, on the Wired Threat Level blog, she manages to do something rather remarkable. She links to one of the bill’s provisions:

One idea from Sunlight that all journalists are sure to welcome: Limiting the time government agencies can delay fulfilling Freedom of Information Act requests. Sunlight suggests implementing a rule that would force government agencies to fulfill such requests within 60 days of the requests’ original due dates.

All she did was hyperlink, which is regular fare on blogs. This is rather extraordinary, however, because the links takes you to the actual provision of a piece of legislation. As Congressional legislation is currently published, this is nearly impossible, as bills are published in html or in pdf formats, erecting a barrier to substantial analysis and discussion. Would legislation be different if all news stories and discussion of them were easily traced to the actual text of the bill, or if you could find your way from the bill other relevant analysis and context?

Small, useful, practical steps online lead to enormously different results, and make new kinds of engagement possible.