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Let Congress Know You Are Watching

September 18, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

We are really excited to be releasing our latest widget today. Our new “Congress, I’m Watching” widget lets you announce which bills in Congress you support or oppose, while also sharing links to clear, up-to-date information that encourages others to get involved the legislation themselves.

Any blog, membership group, or other organization can customize the “Congress, I’m Watching” widget to tell their readers — and Congress — which bills they want to see passed and which bills they don’t. As with all our widgets, it’s free, customizable to fit the look of your site, easy to integrate (just copy/paste a small chunk of html into your site), and can be set up in a manner of minutes.

OpenCongress relies on the insights of bloggers and membership groups in our effort to encourage participation in the legislative process. Our bill and legislator pages are constantly collecting blog and news coverage from all over the internet to give context and perspective to official legislative information. The information that the government makes available is often arcane and technical to the point of inaccessibility. By displaying related information and analyses from a wide range of citizen journalists, policy experts, and news reporters along side the official information — bill text, sponsors and co-sponsors, vote counts, etc. — OpenCongress gives people all the information they need in order to learn about an issue and take a stand.

The “Congress, I’m Watching” widget is a way for people to share this non-partisan, multiperspectival resource while also letting their readers know how they feel about the legislation. Click here for an example of how it looks. The examples shows it used for only one bill. However, it can be customized to show as many bills as you want, as well as being able to display a mix of bills you oppose and bills you support.

To help you get started with building your own widget, we’ve put together a list of hot bills in popular issue areas. You can also browse the most- viewed bills on OpenCongress, or use our search page to find any bill by keyword. To match the colors of the widget with the colors of your site, try using the Digital Color Meter app. (/Applications/utillities/DigitalColor Meter) set to 8-bit hex code on a Mac, or try the ColorZilla Firefox add-on.

We’ve got a few more widgets and tools available here that let you track either OpenCongress meta-data, the status of a particular bill, or the newest or most-viwed bills in a particular issue area. Grab a widget and encourage public oversight of Congress!

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