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Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas

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  • Danny O'Brien
    ... Well, be sure to ask us our position -- we d be happy to give you some publicity :) d. -- Danny O Brien, Activism Co-ordinator, Electronic Frontier
    Message 1 of 21 , Nov 6, 2006
      On Mon, Nov 06, 2006 at 07:40:12PM -0500, Andrew Badr wrote:
      > I'm glad to hear that people are interested. It's a friend and I working on
      > the project. We can't devote all our time to it, but we expect to launch
      > some time in February, and something that could be called a demo should be
      > ready much sooner.
      >

      Well, be sure to ask us our position -- we'd be happy to give you some
      publicity :)

      d.

      --
      Danny O'Brien,
      Activism Co-ordinator,
      Electronic Frontier Foundation
      +1 415 436 9333 x121
      Become an EFF member! -- http://www.eff.org/support/
    • Scott Willeke
      Regarding Project 1: Can you recommend an example or two with PDFs that could be compared. How do you envision the difference in the output being shown? Maybe
      Message 2 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
        Regarding Project 1:
        Can you recommend an example or two with PDFs that could be compared.
        How do you envision the difference in the output being shown? Maybe it
        could create a report with details about each addition and removal.
        Alternatively, a completely new PDF document with highlighted areas or
        annotations could be shown (e.g. something like MS Word's diff
        annotations). I'm not sure if I'll have the time to take on the project
        but with a little more information I can give it a try. In any case I
        think the information will be useful to anyone considering the project
        and I think such a tool will be invaluable.

        Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us wrote:
        > In case anyone on the list is bored and wants to work on a project that
        > would be really useful, I want to extract two ideas out of the current
        > read-the-bill thread. (And since GovTrack has a moderate surplus at the
        > moment, I could potentially fund one.)
        >
        > Project 1 - Version Tracking Bills
        >
        > Given two PDF versions of a bill (such as the bill as it was introduced
        > and then as it was after being reported by a committee, or in the case
        > in the other thread, as it was after being passed by the Senate and then
        > again after it was following the conference committee), what are the
        > additions, removals, and changes that were made?
        >
        > The idea is to have the effect of combining the Linux tools pdftotext
        > and diff, but better. Or, to tweak that process so that the output is
        > actually useful for a regular citizen.
        >
        > Project 2 - Collecting Advocacy Positions
        >
        > I want to display on GovTrack the positions of advocacy
        > groups/individuals on particular bills. What I need is a way for
        > independent organizations/individuals to enter their positions on
        > bills/amendments/votes (support/oppose/ambivalent + comment), or to
        > import their positions from e.g. blog entries, so that they end up in a
        > common data format to be displayed on GovTrack (and any other site that
        > wants to display it). This would entail creating a small website.
        >
        >
      • Aron Pilhofer
        Not sure I agree. Both projects would be valuable, but number two would provide a heck of a lot more fodder for day-to-day reporting and analysis than number
        Message 3 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
          Not sure I agree. Both projects would be valuable, but number two would
          provide a heck of a lot more fodder for day-to-day reporting and
          analysis than number one -- both for bloggers and those of us in the
          so-called mainstream media. Sure, #1 would generate the occasional
          "gotchas" and so forth, but really only if you knew when and where to
          look. There are so many changes to legislation (heck, so much
          legislation...period) that a version tracking system wouldn't
          necessarily make it a whole lot easier to find those hidden gems than it
          is now.

          Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I think number two would be
          the kind of killer feature that would help GovTrack gain steam. Shoot,
          maybe it's something we could partner up on. Half the battle would be
          getting these groups to contribute on a regular and timely basis, and
          maybe they would have the incentive to do so if they knew it was
          something that was going to be available to a wide audience. We'd have
          to insist on it being completely free (as in speech) and available for
          use by anyone, but I think that's doable.

          Anyway, it's something I'm interested in helping out on regardless...
          aron

          John DeBruyn wrote:
          >
          > Hi Joshua:
          >
          > Two great projects ... what a horse race.
          >
          > Project 2 will likely pick up more buzz in the blogosphere and in the
          > press than project 1.
          >
          > One is probably as vital, if not more so, than 2, over the long haul.
          > Howver, somebody else is likely to do 2. As a consquence doing 2
          > first as an adjunct of GoVTrack will do more to get GovTrack the
          > additinal attention and traffic that it deserves. I would also surmize
          > that project 2 would invove more time and expense and that is another
          > reason to deffer until GovTrack gains more steam.
          >
          > Keep up the good work,
          >
          > Thanks for all that you are doing,
          >
          > John
          >
          > John DeBruyn Denver CO USA
          >
          > -----Original Message-----
          > *From:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com]*On
          > Behalf Of *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
          > *Sent:* Monday, November 06, 2006 3:48 PM
          > *To:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com
          > *Subject:* Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas
          >
          > Andrew Badr wrote:
          > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
          >
          > When can we all expect to see a demo? :)
          >
          > But, seriously, that's great. Keep us all posted.
          >
          > --
          > - Joshua Tauberer
          >
          > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>
          >
          > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
          > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
          >
          > Andrew Badr wrote:
          > >
          > >
          > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
          > >
          > > On 11/4/06, *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us* <tauberer@...
          > <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>
          > > <mailto:tauberer@... <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>>> wrote:
          > >
          > > In case anyone on the list is bored and wants to work on a project that
          > > would be really useful, I want to extract two ideas out of the current
          > > read-the-bill thread. (And since GovTrack has a moderate surplus at the
          > > moment, I could potentially fund one.)
          > >
          > > Project 1 - Version Tracking Bills
          > >
          > > Given two PDF versions of a bill (such as the bill as it was introduced
          > > and then as it was after being reported by a committee, or in the case
          > > in the other thread, as it was after being passed by the Senate and then
          > > again after it was following the conference committee), what are the
          > > additions, removals, and changes that were made?
          > >
          > > The idea is to have the effect of combining the Linux tools pdftotext
          > > and diff, but better. Or, to tweak that process so that the output is
          > > actually useful for a regular citizen.
          > >
          > > Project 2 - Collecting Advocacy Positions
          > >
          > > I want to display on GovTrack the positions of advocacy
          > > groups/individuals on particular bills. What I need is a way for
          > > independent organizations/individuals to enter their positions on
          > > bills/amendments/votes (support/oppose/ambivalent + comment), or to
          > > import their positions from e.g. blog entries, so that they end up in a
          > > common data format to be displayed on GovTrack (and any other site that
          > > wants to display it). This would entail creating a small website.
          > >
          > > --
          > > - Joshua Tauberer
          > >
          > > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>
          > <http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>>
          > >
          > > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
          > > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
          > >
          > >
          > >
          >
          >

          --

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          Aron Pilhofer
          Database Editor,
          The New York Times
          Phone: 212-556-5849
          Email: aron@...
        • Chris Kinnan
          Project Vote-Smart does this to some degree...I work for a non-profit advocacy group (FreedomWorks) and they query us every year. I think their site is getting
          Message 4 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
            Project Vote-Smart does this to some degree...I work for a non-profit advocacy group (FreedomWorks) and they query us every year.

            I think their site is getting crushed today by election traffic but here is the link

            http://www.vote-smart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=issue_rating_category.php

            Chris

            On 11/7/06, Aron Pilhofer <apilhofer@...> wrote:

            Not sure I agree. Both projects would be valuable, but number two would
            provide a heck of a lot more fodder for day-to-day reporting and
            analysis than number one -- both for bloggers and those of us in the
            so-called mainstream media. Sure, #1 would generate the occasional
            "gotchas" and so forth, but really only if you knew when and where to
            look. There are so many changes to legislation (heck, so much
            legislation...period) that a version tracking system wouldn't
            necessarily make it a whole lot easier to find those hidden gems than it
            is now.

            Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I think number two would be
            the kind of killer feature that would help GovTrack gain steam. Shoot,
            maybe it's something we could partner up on. Half the battle would be
            getting these groups to contribute on a regular and timely basis, and
            maybe they would have the incentive to do so if they knew it was
            something that was going to be available to a wide audience. We'd have
            to insist on it being completely free (as in speech) and available for
            use by anyone, but I think that's doable.

            Anyway, it's something I'm interested in helping out on regardless...
            aron



            John DeBruyn wrote:
            >
            > Hi Joshua:
            >
            > Two great projects ... what a horse race.
            >
            > Project 2 will likely pick up more buzz in the blogosphere and in the
            > press than project 1.
            >
            > One is probably as vital, if not more so, than 2, over the long haul.
            > Howver, somebody else is likely to do 2. As a consquence doing 2
            > first as an adjunct of GoVTrack will do more to get GovTrack the
            > additinal attention and traffic that it deserves. I would also surmize
            > that project 2 would invove more time and expense and that is another
            > reason to deffer until GovTrack gains more steam.
            >
            > Keep up the good work,
            >
            > Thanks for all that you are doing,
            >
            > John
            >
            > John DeBruyn Denver CO USA
            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > *From:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto: govtrack@yahoogroups.com]*On
            > Behalf Of *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
            > *Sent:* Monday, November 06, 2006 3:48 PM
            > *To:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com
            > *Subject:* Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas
            >
            > Andrew Badr wrote:
            > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
            >
            > When can we all expect to see a demo? :)
            >
            > But, seriously, that's great. Keep us all posted.
            >
            > --
            > - Joshua Tauberer
            >
            > http://razor.occams.info < http://razor.occams.info>
            >
            > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
            > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
            >
            > Andrew Badr wrote:
            > >
            > >
            > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
            > >
            > > On 11/4/06, *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us* <tauberer@...
            > <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>

            > > <mailto:tauberer@... <mailto: tauberer%40govtrack.us>>> wrote:
            > >
            > > In case anyone on the list is bored and wants to work on a project that
            > > would be really useful, I want to extract two ideas out of the current
            > > read-the-bill thread. (And since GovTrack has a moderate surplus at the
            > > moment, I could potentially fund one.)
            > >
            > > Project 1 - Version Tracking Bills
            > >
            > > Given two PDF versions of a bill (such as the bill as it was introduced
            > > and then as it was after being reported by a committee, or in the case
            > > in the other thread, as it was after being passed by the Senate and then
            > > again after it was following the conference committee), what are the
            > > additions, removals, and changes that were made?
            > >
            > > The idea is to have the effect of combining the Linux tools pdftotext
            > > and diff, but better. Or, to tweak that process so that the output is
            > > actually useful for a regular citizen.
            > >
            > > Project 2 - Collecting Advocacy Positions
            > >
            > > I want to display on GovTrack the positions of advocacy
            > > groups/individuals on particular bills. What I need is a way for
            > > independent organizations/individuals to enter their positions on
            > > bills/amendments/votes (support/oppose/ambivalent + comment), or to
            > > import their positions from e.g. blog entries, so that they end up in a
            > > common data format to be displayed on GovTrack (and any other site that
            > > wants to display it). This would entail creating a small website.
            > >
            > > --
            > > - Joshua Tauberer
            > >
            > > http://razor.occams.info < http://razor.occams.info>
            > <http://razor.occams.info < http://razor.occams.info>>
            > >
            > > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
            > > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
            > >
            > >
            > >
            >
            >

            --

            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            Aron Pilhofer
            Database Editor,
            The New York Times
            Phone: 212-556-5849
            Email: aron@...


          • Aron Pilhofer
            Yeah, but isn t that after the fact? You re right, their site is getting crushed -- but if memory serves, those are issue ratings based on votes lawmakers have
            Message 5 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
              Yeah, but isn't that after the fact? You're right, their site is getting
              crushed -- but if memory serves, those are issue ratings based on votes
              lawmakers have made already. What we're talking about (I thought) is
              something that would happen before the final vote on a bill... I don't
              know of anyone that does that, or who would do it as well. :)

              Chris Kinnan wrote:
              >
              > Project Vote-Smart does this to some degree...I work for a non-profit
              > advocacy group (FreedomWorks) and they query us every year.
              >
              > I think their site is getting crushed today by election traffic but
              > here is the link
              >
              > http://www.vote-smart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=issue_rating_category.php
              > <http://www.vote-smart.org/official_five_categories.php?dist=issue_rating_category.php>
              >
              > Chris
              >
              > On 11/7/06, *Aron Pilhofer* <apilhofer@...
              > <mailto:apilhofer@...>> wrote:
              >
              > Not sure I agree. Both projects would be valuable, but number two
              > would
              > provide a heck of a lot more fodder for day-to-day reporting and
              > analysis than number one -- both for bloggers and those of us in the
              > so-called mainstream media. Sure, #1 would generate the occasional
              > "gotchas" and so forth, but really only if you knew when and where to
              > look. There are so many changes to legislation (heck, so much
              > legislation...period) that a version tracking system wouldn't
              > necessarily make it a whole lot easier to find those hidden gems
              > than it
              > is now.
              >
              > Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I think number two would be
              > the kind of killer feature that would help GovTrack gain steam.
              > Shoot,
              > maybe it's something we could partner up on. Half the battle would be
              > getting these groups to contribute on a regular and timely basis, and
              > maybe they would have the incentive to do so if they knew it was
              > something that was going to be available to a wide audience. We'd
              > have
              > to insist on it being completely free (as in speech) and available
              > for
              > use by anyone, but I think that's doable.
              >
              > Anyway, it's something I'm interested in helping out on regardless...
              > aron
              >
              >
              >
              > John DeBruyn wrote:
              > >
              > > Hi Joshua:
              > >
              > > Two great projects ... what a horse race.
              > >
              > > Project 2 will likely pick up more buzz in the blogosphere and in
              > the
              > > press than project 1.
              > >
              > > One is probably as vital, if not more so, than 2, over the long
              > haul.
              > > Howver, somebody else is likely to do 2. As a consquence doing 2
              > > first as an adjunct of GoVTrack will do more to get GovTrack the
              > > additinal attention and traffic that it deserves. I would also
              > surmize
              > > that project 2 would invove more time and expense and that is
              > another
              > > reason to deffer until GovTrack gains more steam.
              > >
              > > Keep up the good work,
              > >
              > > Thanks for all that you are doing,
              > >
              > > John
              > >
              > > John DeBruyn Denver CO USA
              > >
              > > -----Original Message-----
              > > *From:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com
              > <mailto:govtrack%40yahoogroups.com> [mailto:
              > govtrack@yahoogroups.com <mailto:govtrack%40yahoogroups.com>]*On
              > > Behalf Of *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
              > > *Sent:* Monday, November 06, 2006 3:48 PM
              > > *To:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com <mailto:govtrack%40yahoogroups.com>
              > > *Subject:* Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas
              > >
              > > Andrew Badr wrote:
              > > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
              > >
              > > When can we all expect to see a demo? :)
              > >
              > > But, seriously, that's great. Keep us all posted.
              > >
              > > --
              > > - Joshua Tauberer
              > >
              > > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info> <
              > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>>
              > >
              > > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
              > > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
              > >
              > > Andrew Badr wrote:
              > > >
              > > >
              > > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
              > > >
              > > > On 11/4/06, *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us*
              > <tauberer@... <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>
              > > <mailto:tauberer% <mailto:tauberer%25>40govtrack.us
              > <http://40govtrack.us>>
              >
              > > > <mailto:tauberer@... <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>
              > <mailto: tauberer% <mailto:tauberer%25>40govtrack.us
              > <http://40govtrack.us>>>> wrote:
              > > >
              > > > In case anyone on the list is bored and wants to work on a
              > project that
              > > > would be really useful, I want to extract two ideas out of the
              > current
              > > > read-the-bill thread. (And since GovTrack has a moderate
              > surplus at the
              > > > moment, I could potentially fund one.)
              > > >
              > > > Project 1 - Version Tracking Bills
              > > >
              > > > Given two PDF versions of a bill (such as the bill as it was
              > introduced
              > > > and then as it was after being reported by a committee, or in
              > the case
              > > > in the other thread, as it was after being passed by the Senate
              > and then
              > > > again after it was following the conference committee), what
              > are the
              > > > additions, removals, and changes that were made?
              > > >
              > > > The idea is to have the effect of combining the Linux tools
              > pdftotext
              > > > and diff, but better. Or, to tweak that process so that the
              > output is
              > > > actually useful for a regular citizen.
              > > >
              > > > Project 2 - Collecting Advocacy Positions
              > > >
              > > > I want to display on GovTrack the positions of advocacy
              > > > groups/individuals on particular bills. What I need is a way for
              > > > independent organizations/individuals to enter their positions on
              > > > bills/amendments/votes (support/oppose/ambivalent + comment), or to
              > > > import their positions from e.g. blog entries, so that they end
              > up in a
              > > > common data format to be displayed on GovTrack (and any other
              > site that
              > > > wants to display it). This would entail creating a small website.
              > > >
              > > > --
              > > > - Joshua Tauberer
              > > >
              > > > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info> <
              > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>>
              > > <http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info> <
              > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>>>
              > > >
              > > > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
              > > > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
              > > >
              > > >
              > > >
              > >
              > >
              >
              > --
              >
              > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              > Aron Pilhofer
              > Database Editor,
              > The New York Times
              > Phone: 212-556-5849
              > Email: aron@... <mailto:aron%40nytimes.com>
              >
              >
              >

              --

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Aron Pilhofer
              Database Editor,
              The New York Times
              Phone: 212-556-5849
              Email: aron@...
            • Steve Andersen
              We ve built a collaborative bill tracker for progressive groups in the state of Oregon. We get a feed of legislation every night and import/update a database
              Message 6 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
                We've built a collaborative bill tracker for progressive groups in the
                state of Oregon. We get a feed of legislation every night and
                import/update a database of bills. Members of the site can track bills,
                state their position on a bill, and see others doing the same. The
                people using it in Oregon have found it really useful, and it has helped
                them to see allies they maybe didn't even think about.

                Unfortunately, I can't give you a URL as it's a password protected app.

                The key to uptake is for the tool to be useful to the people using it. A
                bill tracker would be a helpful tool. Throw in some web 2.0-type
                collaboration aspects, and it's fairly compelling. While we may be
                interested in the shared benefit for the community/movement, individual
                users are going to be focused on what the tool does for them.

                We built our project on Plone, the open source content management
                system. In Oregon, the bill status is provided in machine readable form
                every night, so we don't have to do any pdf trickery. We built our 1.0
                version very quickly last year--the core functionality for bill tracking
                is pretty simple. If the imports are straight-forward, like they are in
                Oregon, it's not too tough to build.

                Steve

                -----Original Message-----
                From: govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com] On
                Behalf Of Aron Pilhofer
                Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 5:59 AM
                To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas

                Not sure I agree. Both projects would be valuable, but number two would
                provide a heck of a lot more fodder for day-to-day reporting and
                analysis than number one -- both for bloggers and those of us in the
                so-called mainstream media. Sure, #1 would generate the occasional
                "gotchas" and so forth, but really only if you knew when and where to
                look. There are so many changes to legislation (heck, so much
                legislation...period) that a version tracking system wouldn't
                necessarily make it a whole lot easier to find those hidden gems than it
                is now.

                Speaking for myself, and only for myself, I think number two would be
                the kind of killer feature that would help GovTrack gain steam. Shoot,
                maybe it's something we could partner up on. Half the battle would be
                getting these groups to contribute on a regular and timely basis, and
                maybe they would have the incentive to do so if they knew it was
                something that was going to be available to a wide audience. We'd have
                to insist on it being completely free (as in speech) and available for
                use by anyone, but I think that's doable.

                Anyway, it's something I'm interested in helping out on regardless...
                aron

                John DeBruyn wrote:
                >
                > Hi Joshua:
                >
                > Two great projects ... what a horse race.
                >
                > Project 2 will likely pick up more buzz in the blogosphere and in the
                > press than project 1.
                >
                > One is probably as vital, if not more so, than 2, over the long haul.

                > Howver, somebody else is likely to do 2. As a consquence doing 2
                > first as an adjunct of GoVTrack will do more to get GovTrack the
                > additinal attention and traffic that it deserves. I would also surmize

                > that project 2 would invove more time and expense and that is another
                > reason to deffer until GovTrack gains more steam.
                >
                > Keep up the good work,
                >
                > Thanks for all that you are doing,
                >
                > John
                >
                > John DeBruyn Denver CO USA
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > *From:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com [mailto:govtrack@yahoogroups.com]*On
                > Behalf Of *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
                > *Sent:* Monday, November 06, 2006 3:48 PM
                > *To:* govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                > *Subject:* Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas
                >
                > Andrew Badr wrote:
                > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
                >
                > When can we all expect to see a demo? :)
                >
                > But, seriously, that's great. Keep us all posted.
                >
                > --
                > - Joshua Tauberer
                >
                > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>
                >
                > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're about to
                > have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                >
                > Andrew Badr wrote:
                > >
                > >
                > > I'm already working Project 2 :)
                > >
                > > On 11/4/06, *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us* <tauberer@...
                > <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>
                > > <mailto:tauberer@... <mailto:tauberer%40govtrack.us>>>
                wrote:
                > >
                > > In case anyone on the list is bored and wants to work on a project
                > > that would be really useful, I want to extract two ideas out of the
                > > current read-the-bill thread. (And since GovTrack has a moderate
                > > surplus at the moment, I could potentially fund one.)
                > >
                > > Project 1 - Version Tracking Bills
                > >
                > > Given two PDF versions of a bill (such as the bill as it was
                > > introduced and then as it was after being reported by a committee,
                > > or in the case in the other thread, as it was after being passed by
                > > the Senate and then again after it was following the conference
                > > committee), what are the additions, removals, and changes that were
                made?
                > >
                > > The idea is to have the effect of combining the Linux tools
                > > pdftotext and diff, but better. Or, to tweak that process so that
                > > the output is actually useful for a regular citizen.
                > >
                > > Project 2 - Collecting Advocacy Positions
                > >
                > > I want to display on GovTrack the positions of advocacy
                > > groups/individuals on particular bills. What I need is a way for
                > > independent organizations/individuals to enter their positions on
                > > bills/amendments/votes (support/oppose/ambivalent + comment), or to
                > > import their positions from e.g. blog entries, so that they end up
                > > in a common data format to be displayed on GovTrack (and any other
                > > site that wants to display it). This would entail creating a small
                website.
                > >
                > > --
                > > - Joshua Tauberer
                > >
                > > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>
                > <http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>>
                > >
                > > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're about to
                > > have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                > >
                > >
                > >
                >
                >

                --

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Aron Pilhofer
                Database Editor,
                The New York Times
                Phone: 212-556-5849
                Email: aron@...






                Yahoo! Groups Links
              • Joe Germuska
                ... Why is it password protected? Is it not possible to have something like that public without it being poisoned ? (I ask honestly.) Or was it more a
                Message 7 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
                  At 7:53 AM -0800 11/7/06, Steve Andersen wrote:
                  >Unfortunately, I can't give you a URL as it's a password protected app.

                  Why is it password protected? Is it not possible
                  to have something like that public without it
                  being "poisoned"? (I ask honestly.) Or was it
                  more a "we're just getting started, so let's keep
                  it in the family."

                  >We built our project on Plone, the open source content management
                  >system. In Oregon, the bill status is provided in machine readable form
                  >every night, so we don't have to do any pdf trickery.

                  Good for Oregon! Where are these documents served? Do other states do this?

                  Joe

                  --
                  Joe Germuska
                  Joe@... * http://blog.germuska.com

                  "The truth is that we learned from João forever to be out of tune."
                  -- Caetano Veloso
                • Steve Andersen
                  It s a project we did for customers, and one of their requirements was for it to be an invite-only system. The work these folks do around bills and fighting
                  Message 8 of 21 , Nov 8, 2006
                    It's a project we did for customers, and one of their requirements was for it to be an invite-only system. The work these folks do around bills and fighting for their positions is very adversarial, and the tools they use are kept pretty close to the vest.

                    The import is done from ftp://landru.leg.state.or.us/pub

                    Steve

                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: Joe Germuska [mailto:Joe@...]
                    Sent: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 8:18 AM
                    To: Steve Andersen; govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: RE: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas

                    At 7:53 AM -0800 11/7/06, Steve Andersen wrote:
                    >Unfortunately, I can't give you a URL as it's a password protected app.

                    Why is it password protected? Is it not possible to have something like that public without it being "poisoned"? (I ask honestly.) Or was it more a "we're just getting started, so let's keep it in the family."

                    >We built our project on Plone, the open source content management
                    >system. In Oregon, the bill status is provided in machine readable form
                    >every night, so we don't have to do any pdf trickery.

                    Good for Oregon! Where are these documents served? Do other states do this?

                    Joe

                    --
                    Joe Germuska
                    Joe@... * http://blog.germuska.com

                    "The truth is that we learned from João forever to be out of tune."
                    -- Caetano Veloso
                  • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
                    ... Hi, Scott. Take these two: http://www.govtrack.us/data/us/bills.text/109/hc/hc95rds.pdf http://www.govtrack.us/data/us/bills.text/109/hc/hc95enr.pdf The
                    Message 9 of 21 , Nov 8, 2006
                      Scott Willeke wrote:
                      > Regarding Project 1:
                      > Can you recommend an example or two with PDFs that could be compared.

                      Hi, Scott. Take these two:

                      http://www.govtrack.us/data/us/bills.text/109/hc/hc95rds.pdf
                      http://www.govtrack.us/data/us/bills.text/109/hc/hc95enr.pdf

                      The first is the resolution after it was passed by the House (at the
                      time it was received in the Senate). The second is the final form of
                      the bill (as it was "enrolled") after the Senate passed it as well.
                      From a cursory look it seems the Senate tacked on some stuff at the end,
                      between the versions.

                      > How do you envision the difference in the output being shown?

                      A list of changes, highlighting, whatever -- as long as it can filter
                      out a whole variety of unimportant formatting changes, like line
                      numbering, section numbering, line wrapping, etc.

                      The first step is to convert it to text -- you can see the text versions
                      (from "pdftotext -layout -nopgbrk") that GovTrack makes at the same
                      addresses, just replace .pdf with .txt. Without "-layout" you get a
                      differently formatted text version that could be more useful for this.

                      Then strip out the formatting things that I mentioned above. (Obviously
                      not trivial for line wrapping, for instance.)

                      Then run a diff, but one would have to figure out how to format the
                      output of the diff so it looks like a bill again. (I have some thoughts
                      on that, for future reference, but I won't get into it now.)

                      > Alternatively, a completely new PDF document with highlighted areas or
                      > annotations could be shown (e.g. something like MS Word's diff
                      > annotations).

                      It's easier to view and navigate in HTML, so I don't think that's as
                      important, but interesting.

                      Difficult, but not impossible. I hope you give it a shot.

                      -
                      - Joshua Tauberer

                      http://razor.occams.info

                      "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
                      about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                    • yahoogroups-backupemail@msmith.net
                      ... there s a fork of pdftotext (also free) which has very useful -html and -xml output flags which might be a better place to start from if you don t have
                      Message 10 of 21 , Nov 8, 2006
                        On Wed, 8 Nov 2006, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us wrote:
                        > The first step is to convert it to text -- you can see the text versions
                        > (from "pdftotext -layout -nopgbrk") that GovTrack makes at the same
                        > addresses, just replace .pdf with .txt. Without "-layout" you get a
                        > differently formatted text version that could be more useful for this.

                        there's a fork of pdftotext (also free) which has very
                        useful -html and -xml output flags which might be a
                        better place to start from if you don't have tools already.

                        http://pdftohtml.sourceforge.net/


                        Sam
                        www.disruptiveproactivity.com

                        --
                        May you always be as vivid as your hallucinations.
                      • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
                        ... Ahha, I think that could be useful. Thanks for the pointer. (It s actually been integrated in the poppler-utils RPM for Fedora Core 6, if that s useful
                        Message 11 of 21 , Nov 9, 2006
                          yahoogroups-backupemail@... wrote:
                          > On Wed, 8 Nov 2006, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us wrote:
                          >> The first step is to convert it to text -- you can see the text versions
                          >> (from "pdftotext -layout -nopgbrk") that GovTrack makes at the same
                          >> addresses, just replace .pdf with .txt. Without "-layout" you get a
                          >> differently formatted text version that could be more useful for this.
                          >
                          > there's a fork of pdftotext (also free) which has very
                          > useful -html and -xml output flags which might be a
                          > better place to start from if you don't have tools already.
                          >
                          > http://pdftohtml.sourceforge.net/ <http://pdftohtml.sourceforge.net/>

                          Ahha, I think that could be useful. Thanks for the pointer. (It's
                          actually been integrated in the poppler-utils RPM for Fedora Core 6, if
                          that's useful for anyone.)

                          For reference, the two PDFs in HTML with pdftohtml are:

                          http://www.govtrack.us/hc95rds.html
                          http://www.govtrack.us/hc95enr.html

                          It's not getting the alignment of lines quite right, splitting up things
                          on the same line, but that might not impact the task anyway since
                          different line breaks between versions has to be ignored anyway.

                          --
                          - Joshua Tauberer

                          http://razor.occams.info

                          "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
                          about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                        • Scott Burns
                          Instead of trying to convert PDFs and remove formatting you can get basic HTML versions of these bills from Thomas. This bill, for example, can be found here:
                          Message 12 of 21 , Nov 9, 2006
                            Instead of trying to convert PDFs and remove formatting you can get
                            basic HTML versions of these bills from Thomas. This bill, for
                            example, can be found here:

                            http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.CON.RES.95:

                            From that page select the link to "Text of Legislation". You'll
                            then be presented with a list of the different versions from
                            different stages of the process. Pick the one you want there by
                            selecting the link and, then, on the next page select "Printer
                            Friendly Display". You'll then get a basic HTML display that, while
                            somewhat ugly (see the source) should be parse-able into a DOM and
                            then compared node-for-node to another version to find diffs.

                            I haven't played around with the queries there enough to figure out
                            if there's a reliable URL to get directly to the text display of the
                            version you want, though getting to the bill summary page is easy.
                            It shouldn't be hard to script a bot to do the navigation.

                            HTH ...s.

                            On Nov 8, 2006, at 7:11 PM, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us wrote:

                            > Scott Willeke wrote:
                            > > Regarding Project 1:
                            > > Can you recommend an example or two with PDFs that could be
                            > compared.
                            >
                            > Hi, Scott. Take these two:
                            >
                            > http://www.govtrack.us/data/us/bills.text/109/hc/hc95rds.pdf
                            > http://www.govtrack.us/data/us/bills.text/109/hc/hc95enr.pdf
                            >
                            > The first is the resolution after it was passed by the House (at the
                            > time it was received in the Senate). The second is the final form of
                            > the bill (as it was "enrolled") after the Senate passed it as well.
                            > From a cursory look it seems the Senate tacked on some stuff at the
                            > end,
                            > between the versions.
                            >
                            > > How do you envision the difference in the output being shown?
                            >
                            > A list of changes, highlighting, whatever -- as long as it can filter
                            > out a whole variety of unimportant formatting changes, like line
                            > numbering, section numbering, line wrapping, etc.
                            >
                            > The first step is to convert it to text -- you can see the text
                            > versions
                            > (from "pdftotext -layout -nopgbrk") that GovTrack makes at the same
                            > addresses, just replace .pdf with .txt. Without "-layout" you get a
                            > differently formatted text version that could be more useful for this.
                            >
                            > Then strip out the formatting things that I mentioned above.
                            > (Obviously
                            > not trivial for line wrapping, for instance.)
                            >
                            > Then run a diff, but one would have to figure out how to format the
                            > output of the diff so it looks like a bill again. (I have some
                            > thoughts
                            > on that, for future reference, but I won't get into it now.)
                            >
                            > > Alternatively, a completely new PDF document with highlighted
                            > areas or
                            > > annotations could be shown (e.g. something like MS Word's diff
                            > > annotations).
                            >
                            > It's easier to view and navigate in HTML, so I don't think that's as
                            > important, but interesting.
                            >
                            > Difficult, but not impossible. I hope you give it a shot.
                            >
                            > -
                            > - Joshua Tauberer
                            >
                            > http://razor.occams.info
                            >
                            > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
                            > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                            >
                            >

                            --
                            Scott Burns, Staff Technologist <sburns@...>
                            Public Knowledge <http://www.publicknowledge.org>

                            -- Fortifying and Defending a Vibrant Information Commons
                          • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us
                            ... Right, I forgot that Thomas s HTML versions are pretty good. ... Not as far as I know also. In that case, the task may be a lot easier. Convert the HTML
                            Message 13 of 21 , Nov 9, 2006
                              Scott Burns wrote:
                              > Instead of trying to convert PDFs and remove formatting you can get
                              > basic HTML versions of these bills from Thomas. This bill, for
                              > example, can be found here:
                              >
                              > http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.CON.RES.95:
                              > <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.CON.RES.95:>

                              Right, I forgot that Thomas's HTML versions are pretty good.

                              > I haven't played around with the queries there enough to figure out
                              > if there's a reliable URL to get directly to the text display of the
                              > version you want

                              Not as far as I know also.

                              In that case, the task may be a lot easier. Convert the HTML into XML,
                              and then run a difference with an XML differencing tool, such as xmldiff
                              (a Python script, very slow when I tried it just now, but seems to
                              actually be useful for this project and can read the HTML directly) or
                              XyDiff:

                              http://gemo.futurs.inria.fr/software/XyDiff/cdrom/www/xydiff/index-eng.htm

                              Which might do the same thing faster and better, but I haven't tried.
                              It's in C++ and needs to be compiled.

                              --
                              - Joshua Tauberer

                              http://razor.occams.info

                              "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
                              about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                            • Andrew Badr
                              http://federallink.org/ There are several aspects of the site that aren t ready for public consumption, like the long lists of data and overall ugliness, but I
                              Message 14 of 21 , Mar 26, 2007
                                http://federallink.org/

                                There are several aspects of the site that aren't ready for public consumption, like the long lists of data and overall ugliness, but I want to get some feedback, starting with you fine folks on the govtrack mailing list.

                                Beyond feedback, I'm looking for permanent help with coding, design, or establishing relationships with advocacy groups.

                                -Andrew

                                On 11/6/06, Andrew Badr <andrewbadr.etc@...> wrote:
                                I'm glad to hear that people are interested. It's a friend and I working on the project. We can't devote all our time to it, but we expect to launch some time in February, and something that could be called a demo should be ready much sooner.

                                Andrew


                                On 11/6/06, Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us < tauberer@...> wrote:

                                Andrew Badr wrote:
                                > I'm already working Project 2 :)

                                When can we all expect to see a demo? :)

                                But, seriously, that's great. Keep us all posted.

                                --
                                - Joshua Tauberer

                                http://razor.occams.info

                                "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
                                about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report

                                Andrew Badr wrote:
                                >
                                >
                                > I'm already working Project 2 :)
                                >
                                > On 11/4/06, *Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack.us* <tauberer@...
                                > <mailto:tauberer@...>> wrote:
                                >
                                > In case anyone on the list is bored and wants to work on a project that
                                > would be really useful, I want to extract two ideas out of the current
                                > read-the-bill thread. (And since GovTrack has a moderate surplus at the
                                > moment, I could potentially fund one.)
                                >
                                > Project 1 - Version Tracking Bills
                                >
                                > Given two PDF versions of a bill (such as the bill as it was introduced
                                > and then as it was after being reported by a committee, or in the case
                                > in the other thread, as it was after being passed by the Senate and then
                                > again after it was following the conference committee), what are the
                                > additions, removals, and changes that were made?
                                >
                                > The idea is to have the effect of combining the Linux tools pdftotext
                                > and diff, but better. Or, to tweak that process so that the output is
                                > actually useful for a regular citizen.
                                >
                                > Project 2 - Collecting Advocacy Positions
                                >
                                > I want to display on GovTrack the positions of advocacy
                                > groups/individuals on particular bills. What I need is a way for
                                > independent organizations/individuals to enter their positions on
                                > bills/amendments/votes (support/oppose/ambivalent + comment), or to
                                > import their positions from e.g. blog entries, so that they end up in a
                                > common data format to be displayed on GovTrack (and any other site that
                                > wants to display it). This would entail creating a small website.
                                >
                                > --
                                > - Joshua Tauberer
                                >
                                > http://razor.occams.info <http://razor.occams.info>
                                >
                                > "Strike up the klezmer and start acting like a man. You're
                                > about to have a truth-mitzvah." -- The Colbert Report
                                >
                                >
                                >



                              • Josh Tauberer
                                ... Hey, Andrew. (Btw, apparently we know someone in common. Small world...) The site looks great. I look forward to being able to link from GovTrack to
                                Message 15 of 21 , Mar 27, 2007
                                  Andrew Badr wrote:
                                  > http://federallink.org/ <http://federallink.org/>
                                  >
                                  > There are several aspects of the site that aren't ready for public
                                  > consumption, like the long lists of data and overall ugliness, but I
                                  > want to get some feedback, starting with you fine folks on the govtrack
                                  > mailing list.
                                  >
                                  > Beyond feedback, I'm looking for permanent help with coding, design, or
                                  > establishing relationships with advocacy groups.

                                  Hey, Andrew.

                                  (Btw, apparently we know someone in common. Small world...)

                                  The site looks great. I look forward to being able to link from GovTrack
                                  to FederalLink (and hopefully to include some stats from your site on
                                  GovTrack).

                                  When you correlate the patterns of two advocacy groups, how do you
                                  select which groups to show (given the one the user is looking at)?

                                  I'd love to see some graphical representations of the data (the same way
                                  I made my political spectrum, for instance).

                                  --
                                  - Josh Tauberer

                                  http://razor.occams.info

                                  "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                                  falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                                  Tortoise (in "Gödel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)
                                • Nancy Berry
                                  I went in and registered...easy, and then went into bills...great work! Nancy Berry ... From: Josh Tauberer To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                                  Message 16 of 21 , Mar 27, 2007
                                    I went in and registered...easy, and then went into bills...great work!
                                     
                                    Nancy Berry


                                    ----- Original Message ----
                                    From: Josh Tauberer <tauberer@...>
                                    To: govtrack@yahoogroups.com
                                    Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 5:52:17 PM
                                    Subject: Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas

                                    Andrew Badr wrote:

                                    > http://federallink. org/ <http://federallink. org/>
                                    >
                                    > There are several aspects of the site that aren't ready for public
                                    > consumption, like the long lists of data and overall ugliness, but I
                                    > want to get some feedback, starting with you fine folks on the govtrack
                                    > mailing list.
                                    >
                                    > Beyond feedback, I'm looking for permanent help with coding, design, or
                                    > establishing relationships with advocacy groups.

                                    Hey, Andrew.

                                    (Btw, apparently we know someone in common. Small world...)

                                    The site looks great. I look forward to being able to link from GovTrack
                                    to FederalLink (and hopefully to include some stats from your site on
                                    GovTrack).

                                    When you correlate the patterns of two advocacy groups, how do you
                                    select which groups to show (given the one the user is looking at)?

                                    I'd love to see some graphical representations of the data (the same way
                                    I made my political spectrum, for instance).

                                    --
                                    - Josh Tauberer

                                    http://razor. occams.info

                                    "Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation! Yields
                                    falsehood when preceded by its quotation!" Achilles to
                                    Tortoise (in "Gödel, Escher, Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter)


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