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Tag Archive: Bulk Data

Access to Legislation Gets Better, Promise of More to Come

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Earlier today, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor and the Government Printing Office announced an improvement in how legislation is made publicly available. Starting in the 113th Congress, GPO will make all bills available for bulk download in XML format. While this doesn't change much from a technological perspective, it does mark a significant change from a policy perspective.

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Keeping Authentication Simple

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The point of publishing bulk data is so it can be reused as widely as possible. This is particularly true for government data, which belongs to the public.

Government agencies can sometimes also be concerned with ensuring the authenticity of their legal information - especially when the data might be seen as an official source. It breaks down into two major concerns: integrity (ensuring the text is accurate), and origin (proving it's official). A lot of people are used to the "wax seal" model of authenticity - the experience of opening a PDF and seeing that the document is signed and official. This model quickly breaks down for distributing bulk data.

The goals of ease of reuse and authentication are frequently presented as being in tension, but that tension is just as frequently overstated. There are straightforward approaches to guaranteeing authenticity of bulk data that do not encumber reuse.

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Learning how to navigate Congress.gov

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The new and much improved location for Congressional information, beta.congress.gov, has plenty of resources to offer users. Now the Library of Congress (LOC) is offering webinars and in-person training to help users navigate the expanding website. We applaud LOC for providing a variety of training opportunities for those seeking a better understanding of the information available.

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Government: Do You Really Need An API?

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As the term "API" has become more widely recognized through its ubiquity in social media and other web services, its coolness factor has grown considerably, and has become something frequently called for from government.

But does government really need to rush around and make APIs for all of their stuff? Peter Krantz argues that offering direct downloads to bulk data is a much more scalable, simple, and sane solution in most cases.

You should go read his article, rather than just our summary. But specifically...

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