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Announcing OpenCongress Tools

June 6, 2007 - by David Moore

You may have noticed a new section on our left-hand navigation bar: OpenCongress Tools, launching today. Some of these tools are new ways to share info about Congress using our open-source website code, and some are links to useful new resources for greater government transparency.

First is the new OpenCongress Syndication Panel — we had received a lot of requests for this feature, and we’re pleased to get it out into the world. It’s sometimes referred to as a “widget” — it’s an easy way to display content 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 trends in Congress.

One of the key goals of OpenCongress is to harvest and disseminate this social wisdom in order to focus effective public scrutiny on the bills in Congress that really matter, as well as to provide political bloggers with interesting metadata to incorporate in their political
commentary. Take a glance at this sample, and then give the OpenCongress widget a try. We have plans to offer a wider variety of content in the widget soon that you can customize the panel even further — for example, bringing in issues that you care about, showcasing your elected officials, and more, so stay tuned…

Next you’ll find Congrelicious, a plugin for the Firefox web browser that combines OpenCongress and Here’s a one-sentence way of explaining how it works, with more available here: installing the plugin allows you to post relevant links for other Congrelicious users from within pages on OpenCongress. Congrelicious also allows you to watch embedded videos & listen to audio from C-SPAN, YouTube, ComedyCentral, NPR and others. Thanks to Dan Phiffer for this great tool, created as an entry for the Sunlight Foundation’s “”">Mashup Congress and Win" contest.

After that comes OpenMass: a very cool version of OpenCongress for the Massachusetts state legislature, created independently by Jim Caralis. We’re excited that Jim was able to use our open-source code in his display of Massachusetts bill information alongside news and blog coverage. We’ll be writing more here on the blog with Jim about how he brought OpenCongress to his state, and hope to see the OpenCongress model expanded to state, local, and other levels. comes next, an exciting new site that brings together campaign contributions and how legislators vote, providing an unprecedented window into the connections between money and politics. Now, individuals and reporters can quickly determine how closely a vote in Congress correlates with special-interest contributions.

Finally comes a link to our partners at Sunlight Labs, just some of the important work being done by the Sunlight Foundation.

Hope you’ll check out these new tools and resources, with more to come, and hope you’ll help build public knowledge about Congress by using the new Syndication Panel ::

We’re always interested in hearing your feedback on how OpenCongress can be a more useful resource. Contact us anytime with questions or suggestions:

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