Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

My Trip to D.C.

Expand Messages
  • Joshua Tauberer / GovTrack
    Hey, all. Here s how my trip to D.C. went. I posted this as a news item on GovTrack. More to come in a few days. ... Last night I got back from a two-day
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 9, 2005
      Hey, all. Here's how my trip to D.C. went. I posted this as a news
      item on GovTrack. More to come in a few days.


      Last night I got back from a two-day trip to D.C. The point of the trip
      was to make a presentation about GovTrack and also to start some
      collaboration with others on expanding the political information that is
      freely and openly available online.

      Monday afternoon I presented GovTrack and some ideas about the semantic
      web to the people who are responsible for getting some aspects of
      legislative information posted online in XML format. Right now GovTrack
      gets its information from screen-scraping, which is an inexact and
      fragile process of extracting information out of the same HTML pages
      that you see when you view web sites. Having data published also in XML
      format can greatly improve the accuracy of getting information. What the
      people at the clerk of the House have done to date, in terms of getting
      bills written in XML and roll call votes posted in XML, has been a great
      step forward, although it hasn't been that useful for GovTrack. (One
      reason is the Senate hasn't followed suit because, as I understand it,
      the clerk of the Senate isn't authorized by the Senate itself to work on
      such things.)

      I think I may have bored the attendees a bit. I wasn't sure exactly who
      was coming and what their backgrounds were. But, at the least they know
      who I am now, and that might mean some collaboration can occur in the

      Daniel Bennett of DotGov put the session together -- thanks Daniel!
      DotGov runs the websites of some democratic representatives. He and Jeff
      Mascott of RightClick Strategies (a pun on 'right' -- it took me a while
      to get that) also made presentations, which I enjoyed.

      Daniel then took me out to dinner (thanks again!), and Chris and April
      from DemocracyInAction came along. DIA is a nonprofit that works with
      other nonprofits (on the left) to improve their campaigning
      effectiveness, and I was really impressed with how motivated they are.
      DIA is gathering legislative information like GovTrack, and we talked
      about how we can get our data to relate together, to start building a
      network of information that can, for instance, be reused by grassroots
      activists to build their websites. (See www.ogdex.info.) Some of the
      same type of discussion is happening on the GovTrack mail list.

      Yesterday I met with two people from GalleryWatch.com, which provides a
      (not-free) service like GovTrack's, but in real time. They constantly
      monitor legislative activity and in minutes of an action can update
      their clients. I was, again, impressed by how these guys feel strongly
      about not just making a business out of this but also giving back, by
      providing their service at low cost to some non-commercial entities.
      They're interested in taking advantage of semantic web ideas, and I
      think they'll help bootstrap the process of building the (free and open)

      I think I've met now almost all of the players in the arena of building
      this network of political information. Between everyone involved,
      including those on the GovTrack mail list, we have enough data and
      enthusiasm to get something very unique and useful started.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.