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Re: [govtrack] Two Project Ideas

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  • 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 1 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
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      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.
      >
      >
    • 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 2 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
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        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 3 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
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          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 4 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
          • 0 Attachment
            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 5 of 21 , Nov 7, 2006
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              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 6 of 21 , Nov 8, 2006
              • 0 Attachment
                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 7 of 21 , Nov 8, 2006
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 8 of 21 , Nov 8, 2006
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                    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 9 of 21 , Nov 9, 2006
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                      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 10 of 21 , Nov 9, 2006
                      • 0 Attachment
                        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 11 of 21 , Nov 9, 2006
                        • 0 Attachment
                          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 12 of 21 , Mar 26, 2007
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                            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 13 of 21 , Mar 27, 2007
                            • 0 Attachment
                              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 14 of 21 , Mar 27, 2007
                              • 0 Attachment
                                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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