Randall Munroe has outdone himself. XKCD, the "webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language," just posted another amazing, wall-sized infographic, this one depicting the historical ideological swings of left, right and center of the US Senate and House of Representatives (here are Randall's other *huge* and hugely fascinating infographics).
Be sure to read the side boxes and especially the one on methodology of how ideology was calculated. He meticulously accounts for the historical shift in the left/right spectrum between Republicans and Democrats.
That is all.
Josh Tauberer has announced changes to his wonderful GovTrack website and service.
- We’ve made a few "tweaks" to GovTrack, by Josh Tauberer, GovTrack blog, (March 19, 2012).
...there are some things missing from GovTrack 2.0 that were in the old site, and if you need them you can still find them for now at http://legacy.govtrack.us, which continues to run the old site. I apologize for discontinuing some features, such as information on amendments, but with the site’s tiny budget I’m just not able to keep everything running at once...
GovTrack helps you find the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records for the Senate and House of Representatives, information on Members of Congress, and congressional district maps.
Much of the information shown on GovTrack is assembled in an automated way from official government websites. primarily the website THOMAS which is the official website for the status of legislation run by the Library of Congress.
Hat Tip to InfoDocket!
Legislation that would require copies of congressionally mandated reports to be published online by GPO cleared a major hurdle when it unanimously passed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at a business meeting on Wednesday. The "Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act," introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley and joined by 12 co-sponsors, will now advance to the floor of the House of Representatives.
"Access to Congressionally Advances to the House Floor" by Daniel Schuman, Sunlight Foundation (June 23, 2011).
Roll Call reports:
The National Archives could be just months away from starting a long-planned project to create for the first time a searchable digital log of the archives of Congress.
The project, which had been discussed for about six years, would essentially catalog Congressional records dating back to 1789 and create a database where researchers could search for specific topics.
Though it wouldn't digitize the records themselves, the database would point researchers to places within the expansive records where that topic is discussed.
"The idea is to take those various sources ... and to make it a state-of-the-art finding aid," Senate Archivist Karen Paul said.
+ Final Plan Approved Yesterday
+ Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, expressed concerned over the cost
+ Cost Estimate Should Be Provided in Six Months
+ Size? 500 Million Pages (200,000 Cubic Feet of Records)
+ Expected To Take Five Years to Complete
There has been a lot of research done by academic and consulting institutions regarding Twitter adoption in politics. Between February 2010 to now, I think that there have been at least a dozen circulated studies on this topic. The fact that this topic is studied by consultants, economists, marketers, and political scientists suggests that the topic is important; or at the very least, a trend. A number of interesting results have emerged. Collectively, all of these studies give us a refined picture of a typical politician who Tweets.
Williams and Gulati (2010) find that those who adopt Twitter are politicians who have received a lot of contributions. Well funded politicians often have better access and information about "trendy" communication technologies. Alternatively, well funded politicians may have more connections and benefit more from technology that (presumably) maintains these connections.
Lassen and Brown (2010) find that politicians in less competitive districts are more likely to adopt Twitter. It is hard to say why this pattern emerges. However, our well publicized paper (Chi and Yang, 2010) may provide a hint.
Our study finds that the positive effect on adoption associated with the lack of competitiveness (i.e. electoral support) is largest for inexperienced politicians. This pattern seems to fit with the story which links the benefit associated with transparency and electoral support. Those with strong support have an incentive to maintain their constituents' trust. This incentive is strongest for those who are new to the game and have yet to solidify their positive reputation.
Now, this leaves the plethora of studies that seem to be fixated on showing: Republicans are more likely to Tweet (or have higher "Digital IQ"). You can find some of these studies here, here and here.
There are probably more studies floating around. But these are the ones that I believe have gained the most traction in the public arena.
According to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a public hearing is scheduled for next Thursday, 29 July 2010, on the topic of access to publicly-funded research. The hearing will be held by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives to understand the challenges, impact, and opportunities for increased access.
More details are available on the press release:
Nathan Yang is a PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Toronto and has co-authored a couple of studies about Twitter in Politics. He asked that we post the following story. Look for more from Nathan in the following months. Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment.
FGI once posted the abstract of a very innovative and interesting study called “Twitter Use by the U.S. Congress” (PDF) by Jennifer Golbeck, Justin Grimes and Anthony Rogers. They mined the text of thousands of Twitter posts made by American politicians, and found that over 50% of the posts were of informational value.
Those who believe that Twitter has paved the way for transparent government can use this study to back their cause; while skeptics will simply claim that the “openness” of information is simply a new form of government propaganda. Resolving this debate is not easy, as it requires understanding each politician's incentives behind adopting Twitter. So here come the economists.
A study called “Twitter in Congress: Outreach vs Transparency” () by Feng Chi and Nathan Yang serves to do just that. It tries to understand the intrinsic factors behind who adopts and who does not. Understanding the cost-benefit trade-off will help us resolve this debate; at least, partially.
The story these researchers are trying to tell is that if U.S. Congressional members are using Twitter as a means of propaganda, the benefit should accrue as follows:
Representatives who have sponsored a large number of bills will enjoy a greater benefit from adopting Twitter as a means to generating public support. This support can, in turn, generate support from the political/ideological rivals they interact with on a regular basis; especially so if their rivals are ALSO Twitter adopters.
How relevant is this story? According to data on each representative's decision to adopt Twitter or not, the researchers uncover the following patterns:
- Representatives who have sponsored a large number of bills are more likely to adopt Twitter.
- The effect that the number of bills has on the propensity to adopt is significant for the subsample of Republican representatives, but not for the subsample of Democratic representatives.
- This effect is more pronounced for Republicans who belong to Congressional committees with a large number of peers who are Democratic Twitter users.
The researchers conclude that these patterns are consistent with their story above. In other words, it would appear as though Twitter is being adopted for reasons related to outreach; especially so for Republicans. Do you agree?
Thus, I finally updated the latest list of Bills and contact information for the sponsoring Congressmen in the Delicious.com "CRS" tag Delicious.com "CRS" tag.
Putting Congress In Your Pocket, By Andrew Noyes, National Journal "Tech Daily Dose (October 13, 2009).
Want to find a congressional office phone number or a Hill aide's e-mail address? Review a bill or peek at a member's Twitter feed? There's an app for that.
[UPDATE 7/12/10: I updated the link to the paper from Justin's site to the umd site where the paper was officially published. jrj]
I thought I would give the readers of FGI the first scoop on some early research that is coming out of the University of Maryland on how members of Congress are using Twitter.
Abstract: Twitter is a microblogging service boasting over 7 million members and growing at a tremendous rate. With the buzz surrounding the service have come claims of its ability to transform the way people interact and share information, and calls for public figures to start using the site. In this study, we examine the way Twitter is being used by legislators, particularly by members of the United States Congress. We read and coded over 4,500 posts from all members of Congress using the site. Our analysis shows that Congresspeople are primarily using Twitter to post information, particularly links to news articles about them and their blog posts, and to report on their simple activities. These tend not to provide new insights into government or the legislative process or to improve transparency; rather, they are vehicles for self-promotion. However, Twitter is also facilitating direct communication between Congresspeople and citizens, though this is a less popular activity. In this paper, we report on our results, analysis, and provide suggestions for how Twitter can be used by Congresspeople in ways that benefit the citizens, not just the PR machines of the legislators themselves.
From the results of this study we found that Twitter is being used effectively in some spaces and not as effectively in others. In particular, Twitter has created opportunities for increased communication between citizens and Congresspeople, but the majority of posts contained information or location and activities which were being used for outreach and self promotion rather than to provide information that is helpful to citizens.
* Note this paper has been submitted for an upcoming conference but has NOT been accepted, peer-reviewed, or published. Please DO NOT CITE this article but if you are interested feel free to contact me.