I've put up a dataset on Github that maps popular search terms to bills in Congress. It's a simple, 5-column CSV designed to help people create better search engines that take in user input to search for bills. The idea is that this will be useful to, and get contributions from, the community of people out there working with legislation and building tools around them.
It's humble - I started it out with a mere 7 rows, assigning the keywords "Obamacare", "SOPA", "PIPA", and "PPACA" to the appropriate bills. There are certainly more good candidates than that, so please contribute via pull request, or if you don't know how to do that, open an issue and talk about it with words.Continue reading
Sunlight Labs & Google Summer of Code 2011
We're proud to announce we've been accepted as a mentoring application for the Google Summer of Code 2011.
If you aren't familiar with Google Summer of Code, it is a great opportunity for college students and open source organizations to work together. Google pays students a $5000 stipend in exchange for their work on an eligible project. For more details about the program in general visit the GSoC 2011 website.
This is our third year participating and we're looking forward to another great summer and a new batch of students and projects.Continue reading
Stream Congress: A real-time data stream for Congress
Last month, we announced a preview of Stream Congress, and today we're making it available for general consumption. Stream Congress gives you a quick look into what exactly your members of Congress are up to. Resembling a lifestream (but for Congress), the app takes in data points from various sources and combines them into a clean, real-time interface.Continue reading
Introducing Briefing Book
At Sunlight, we spend a lot of time following the money in an attempt to measure influence in the legislative process. While we obviously believe in the benefit of shining a light on these connections, the truth is that it's only part of the story. With our next experiment, a briefing book application, we aim to provide citizens with access to research and opinions that influence legislation currently under consideration by Congress.Continue reading
Preview: Real Time Congress API
My main project for the last month or so has been something we're calling the Real Time Congress API. It's not quite ready for production use, and the data in it is subject to change, but I wanted to give you all a preview of what's coming, and to ask for your help and ideas.
The goal of the Real Time Congress (RTC) API is to provide a current, RESTful API over all the artifacts of Congress, updated in as close to real time as possible. For the first version, we plan to include data about bills, votes, legislative and policy documents, committee schedules, updates from the House and Senate floor, and accompanying floor video.Continue reading
Watch Congress in Real Time on your iPhone
There are a lot of different iPhone apps out there about Congress. But it seems like they all do the same thing: allow you to look up legislators, find contact information for them and their staff members, call them, and get details about who they are and what they've done. In the Android Marketplace, there's only one app that does that-- our Congress app. But in iPhone land, there's at least a half-dozen.
Our project lead on our new iPhone [app], Josh Ruihley decided to take a different approach. We want to make data about what's happening inside Congress more available to the public. It isn't just who your member of Congress is that matters, but also what they do. It's also important to see what they're reading and who they're listening to, and what the process looks like.Continue reading