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Commenting and sharing on legislative documents

Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly & Associates) recently observed that Representative Jim Culberson (R-Texas) saw a demonstration of a product called SharedBook at the Gov 2.0 Summit and decided to use it to collect feedback from his constituents on the healthcare bill.

SharedBook is a publishing and annotation program advertised for a variety of purposes, including creation of dynamic documents:

Policy makers, nonprofits, educators, and special-interest communities can use SharedBook’s platform to allow their members or constituents to engage in an online dialogue on bills, rules, research and other important documents. Starting with highlighted excerpts from the original content, a series of comments and replies can be posted and shared with any and all interested users to facilitate a pointed and detailed discussion. The source document is locked down and the community discussion is stored and presented back as footnotes at a granular level.

My first reaction to this was that opencongress.org already provides an excellent interface for viewing and commenting on bills before Congress, including the House’s health care bill, why go to the trouble of setting it up for this one bill? The answer is that Mr. Culberson is using SharedBook because he wanted comments only from his own constituents.

Here’s the press release.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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