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First POST: Jackpots

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 25 2013

How a blog post about being poor set off a cascade of solidarity; why Google's new Civic Information API is a big deal; the rise of the "protest selfie"; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: This Town

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersIs Washington too obsessed with itself to gauge public opinion on Syria correctly?; Al Gore's incredibly shrinking climate change group; and the best executive director monthly report you've ever seen; plus much, much more. Read More

How Much Did Anonymous Really Get From Congressional Staffers?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 23 2013

A recent release of email address and password combinations apparently used by congressional staffers to manage mass emails to constituents raises concerns about security, but likely won't lead to much change in the use of third-party services by members of Congress, according to Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. People claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous announced last week that they had obtained and released emails and passwords for 2,000 congressional staffers in a move designed to attract attention to their displeasure over online surveillance by the National Security Agency. But the passwords were not paired up with email address when they were released, rendering them of less use to actually breach security, and The Hill reports that they appeared to be login information for the widely used iConstituent email newsletter service. Read More

NRCC Wants to Make Vine Attack Ads a Thing With S. Carolina Congressional Race

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 12 2013

The NRCC has launched what it says is the first political attack ad in the form of a six-second Vine video in the House race in South Carolina's First District, where Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of Stephen Colbert, is running against former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Read More

LegiStorm Is Now Tracking Your Tweets, Congressional Staffers

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 5 2013

A new service from LegiStorm promises to aggregate tweets from congressional staffers along with those of lawmakers themselves, the company announced on its DevBlog last week. The service, called StormFeed, "makes available every tweet and press release of Congress in real time." Politico reports that this has drawn the ire of some Congressional staffers — some of whom were already irked at the way LegiStorm makes their salaries and job titles, which are public record under disclosure laws, easily available. Read More

One Person, One Vote? Here's How Many Voters Each "Representative" Really Represents

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, January 9 2013

For all the chatter about how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers politicians have, I've never seen a news organization or website pay any attention to how many voters each Member of the House of Representatives has. It turns out that some Members are much more popular than others, based on their actual vote totals in 2012. Read More

What Means for a Congressional API

BY Nick Judd and Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, September 19 2012

The Library of Congress today unveiled, a new web platform offering legislative information that is expected to eventually replace the existing THOMAS system and the congressional Legislative Information System.

House leadership has promised to offer access to the underlying data that fuels THOMAS and has repeatedly expressed a commitment to doing it. They just haven't committed to doing it during this Congress. And the lack of action on something that seems to them to be eminently doable has advocates kind of frustrated.

Gayle Osterberg, Director of Communications for the Library of Congress, seemed to indicate in an email that the Library of Congress is ready to cooperate. They just need Congress — meaning the House and Senate both — to give them the go-ahead.

Read More

For Members of Congress, Ryan's VP Nomination Raises a Tweet Dilemma

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 16 2012

Various tweets by House members reacting to Rep. Paul Ryan's selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee may have violated Congressional rules, the Sunlight Foundation* reports. Read More

Two Congressional Staffers Move to Twitter's @Gov Team

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 19 2012

Bridget Coyne, digital director for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sean Evins, a staffer on the House Administration Committee, are moving to the Twitter Government and Politics team, according to a tweet from @gov. Politico had reported Evins' move last week. He told Politico Influence that he would be "acting as a liaison between Twitter and elected officials and helping them better communicate with their constituents." Read More

What Congress Might Do With All Those Emails

BY Nick Judd | Friday, June 15 2012

The Republican House leadership is experimenting with tools that might make it easier for members of Congress to more easily understand what all the emails they get in a day really mean. There are also tools that track messages headed outbound towards Congress, like PopVox, that hope to give perspective on what representatives are hearing from the outside looking in. In this video, Dan Beckmann from the technology firm ib5k describes how his company's platform, Correlate, is designed to solve one aspect of the problem. It is now in use by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer — a Democrat — and may appear elsewhere within House leadership soon, Beckmann says. Read More