Open Gov 2.0 - How A Bill Becomes a Blog

Noel Hidalgo (World Economic Forum), Nathanial Freitas (New York State Senate)
Average rating: ****.
(4.25, 4 ratings)

During its legislative lifetime, a bill is a living, breathing document. For too long, these documents have existed solely within internal legislative databases and drafting systems. The recent move towards transparency at the State level has been a welcome one, which has produced a variety of online legislative systems, all in varying quality. If legislative data is simply dumped online in arcane formats, than it is only useful for lobbyists groups looking to repackage and resell or extremely motived watchdog groups. While these organizations have as much right to the data as anyone, a modern legislatures goal should be to actively push data out to the places where they constituents might stumble upon it in their regular routines – into Google, Twitter, blogs, social networks and so on. As we look towards the future, we must ask that if a legislature’s own site doesn’t show up in a google search for an active bill, then does it even exist?

Attendees will learn best practices for designing an an online legislative service that adheres to the principles and requirements of the modern web. To get the most of the talk, you should understand the basic concepts of how blog and content managements services, search engine indexing, extensible markup language (XML) and application programming interfaces (APIs).

We’ll examine a variety of production online legislation services, including the Washing State Legislative Web Services and the NY State Senate’s Open Legislation service, as well as cover the following specific topics:

  • How to properly format, tag and markup legislative content so that it is optimally indexed
  • Look at hyperlinking within the content to provide a “wiki-like” browsing experience
  • Investigate formats that data can be made available in: CSV, SOAP, JSON, RSS and more!
  • Talk about the use and design of Permalinks in relation to both socialization and access via RESTful APIs
  • Understand what “separability of links” is and how to implement it, including the use of URL shorteners
  • Examine the Pros and Cons of using a CMS vs. developing a custom legislative service
Photo of Noel Hidalgo

Noel Hidalgo

World Economic Forum

In the land of the Internets, he is known as “noneck.” For the last six years, he has focused on exploring community organizing, innovative technologies and the creative space between the two. For the past ten years, he has worked to understand the complex digital tools that enable our modern society and the communities that embrace them. Most notably, he’s journeyed around the world to six contents documenting the communities that live off of the Internet, he lifecasted the process of becoming a New York City Yellow Cab driver, helped expose the China’s broken Olympic promises, helped crystalize political remix culture at, helped create an election monitoring system built on Twitter, helped foster the NYC technology community by running Williamsburg Coworking and helped empower the New York State Senate and it’s constituents understand the power of an open, transparent and efficient legislature. Currently, he’s the Director of Technology Innovation at the New York State Senate.

Nathanial Freitas

New York State Senate

Nathan Freitas has been writing code since he was eight and hasn’t stopped looking for problems to solve ever since. A lifelong mobile technology enthusiast, his career has included work on DARPA-funded research projects, popular consumer products, award-winning digital art pieces and groundbreaking technology for activism. Mr. Freitas also recently designed and taught a new graduate course entitled “Social Activism using Mobile Technology” at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunication Program. He works as a member of the NY State Senate’s CIO Office focused on open services and mobile applications.

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