"My Political Notebook" allows you to grab news articles, blog posts, YouTube? videos, and more and save them to your personal page in a matter of seconds. You'll have gathered a unique portfolio of everything you're following in the world of politics. It's also a simple way to remind yourself of articles, statistics, and opinions that are important to you.
Here's how it works. Everyone with a free "My OpenCongress" account now has a new tab in his or her profile, called "My Political Notebook". To get started, register or login to your "MyOC" account. Then, in the upper-right hand corner of the screen, click the link for "My Political Notebook" to visit the page where your content will be saved.
There are three ways to add content to "My Political Notebook" (or "MyPN" for short). First, in the upper-right hand corner of your notebook, there's a bookmarklet. Drag this into your web browser's toolbar. Then, anytime you're on a webpage with something you want to save, just click on the "+MyPN" link in your toolbar. The bookmarklet will automatically fill in the title of the content you select, as in social bookmarking services like del.ico.us and others, but you can edit it and add your own written description and tags. You can also select a political issue area from our customized pull down menu so that OpenCongress can help direct you to any hot bills in Congress that are related to the content you are saving.
For example, let's say you're reading a blog post about the economy that you think is important. Click to save it to your notebook, where you can add notes on why you think it's noteworthy, and tag it as you prefer. There's also an optional drop-down box for "Issues", where you can for example select "economy". That way, when you click save, the blog post will appear in your notebook alongside a link to view the hot bills affecting the economy in Congress. In this way, My Political Notebook works to connect large-scale issue areas you're reading about (e.g., the economy) to the important details of the bills that directly affect them in Congress (e.g., unemployment extensions, or financial system bailout bills). It's about making the news concrete in the substance of bills.
A second way to add info to your notebook is directly from OpenCongress pages themselves. Let's say you're reading about a bill on OpenCongress and you want to have the bill's page handy for future reference or to share a finding with friend. Click the "+" sign at the top of the page next to the bill's official number (see example), and you'll be able to add it either to your page of My OpenCongress Tracked Items, or to Your Political Notebook. You might choose the former option when you're following the latest actions & official details of a bill, and the latter when you want to be able to add your own opinion or comment on the bill in your notebook. As with your Tracked Items, Your Political Notebook can be shared with your friends and online communities -- anyone can subscribe to your personal RSS feed of MyPN content you've added and read your accompanying notes.
A third way is to add content manually using the links at the top of your MyPN page. As seen there, there are four types of content that can be added to MyPN: links, videos, notes, and files. Links can be any page on the web -- newspaper articles, blog posts, groups formed from social networking sites, policy statements from a campaign... anything out there. Videos can be embedded in your notebook from sites like YouTube?, Blip.tv, and others ... political satire welcomed. Notes are simply notes-to-self, giving you a platform to jot down the thoughts you want to remember or to state your opinion on a topic for your friends to read. Files can be any accepted file format -- charts, polling reports, party platforms, even the text of legislation.
To get a sense of "My Political Notebook" in action, take a look at Donny Shaw's page and the mix of content he's saved there. Feel free to follow him as he posts new content by clicking on the orange RSS icon in his MyPN tab. By using an RSS reader such as Google Reader or My Yahoo, you'll get automatic updates every time he posts new content to his notebook (more info on how to use RSS). Feel free to contact us with questions, suggestions, or feature requests: