Thursday, September 9, 2010
Posted by Jon Westfall in "Android Software" @ 03:00 PM
It's every citizen of the United States' right (and some would say duty) to keep an eye on what their elected government is doing (otherwise how do we know who to vote out? Purely corruption scandals and tabloids?!?). But that isn't always easy - while one can look up the information, it's not as readily available as, say, sports scores or e-mail. Until now - Congress by Sunlight Labs lets you know what the government is up to (so you can get mad, like I do sometimes). Let's take a quick walk through it's abilities!First of all, you'll notice the extensive ways to find out who your congressional representatives are. This probably isn't an issue if you vote regularly, but sometimes you may want to know who represents a particular zip code, or you have a friend who has no idea who their representatives are. And since committees wield enormous power in the United States Congress, one might also want to see who makes up each committee (especially if you plan on writing a nasty letter expressing your disapproval, or a letter of support). Below Legislator search are 3 options to search bills: New Laws (things that have just passed both houses and have been signed by the President), Just Introduced bills into either house of congress, and search by bill code (if you know the code of the bill).
But what you might be most interested in is the latest vote counts, especially if a controversial bill is currently under consideration and you're not sure what the outcome has been yet (Or a bill that only you seem to care about is currently under consideration but unlikely to make news unless you stay glued to C-SPAN). However you find your bill or legislator, Congress will let you find voting records, contact information (Even twitter and youtube links), and all of the other information you'd expect to find. When it can't find it, it links you to sites for more information out on the web.
While it's not always the most fascinating thing to watch over, using Congress will let you discover things about your government that you probably didn't know - specifically how things are done in the US Congress and by who. It's also a great example of API usage for app developers (The app is open-sourced, with source available at GitHub). The price is certainly right (free), so check out Congress in the Android Market!
Jon Westfall is the Executive Editor of Android Thoughts and the News Editor of Windows Phone Thoughts, both members of the Thoughts Media network. He works in New York City as the Associate Director for Research & Technology at the Center for Decision Sciences, a part of Columbia Business School.
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