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OpenCongress Launches Online Tools

OpenCongress is a free, open-source, non-profit, and non-partisan web resource that aims to make Congress more transparent and to encourage civic engagement. They have just launched a new “Tools” section at www.opencongress.org/tools. Some of these tools use open-source code to make it easier to share info about Congress, and some are useful new resources for greater government transparency. Here’s what you’ll find there:

1. OpenCongress Syndication Panel: an easy way to display info from OpenCongress on your website.

Simply choose what you’d like to show: the most-viewed bills, the Members of Congress most written-about in the news and on blogs, top search terms, and much more. Then you can customize the appearance of the panel and just copy-and-paste some HTML into your site. It’s perfect for sidebars of political blogs — now your readers can have an at-a-glance, up-to-date way to follow what’s hot in Congress. For an example of how the Syndication Panel (sometimes called a “widget”) looks, take a glance at this sample : http://participatorypolitics.org/

2. Congrelicious: a plugin for the Firefox web browser that combines OpenCongress and del.icio.us.

Created by Dan Phiffer, Congrelicious also allows you to watch embedded videos & listen to audio from C-SPAN, YouTube, ComedyCentral, NPR and others.

3. OpenMass: a very cool version of OpenCongress for the Massachusetts state legislature, created independently by Jim Caralis.

Jim was able to use OpenCongress’ open-source code in his display of Massachusetts bill information alongside news and blog coverage.

4. MAPLight: an exciting new web resource that brings together campaign contributions and how legislators vote, providing an unprecedented window into the connections between money and politics.

5. Sunlight Labs: a project by the Sunlight Foundation to prototype tech ideas to improve government transparency and political influence disclosure.

If you have any feedback on these tools or the OpenCongress website, feel free to contact them at david@ppolitics.org or
(917) 334-1941.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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