Congressional Content Management System

From Jon Udell:

Recent legislative drama highlights the absurdity of expecting people to make sense of complex texts that are evolving rapidly in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. What we have here is a classic culture clash, in this case between people who think in terms of paper documents and those who think in terms of electronic documents.

Washington is a paper-based culture. There are hopeful signs of change, and Bob Glushko spotted one of them here:

Based on the file name embedded in the pdf of the bill — O:\AYO\AYO08C04.xml — at least the people doing the publishing work for the bill are doing their best to save our tax dollars by creating the file using XML for efficient production and revision.

But there’s no public access to AYO08C04.xml. The government’s reflex is still to publish paper, or its electronic equivalent, PDF. So when the Sunlight Foundation’s John Wonderlich tried to visualize the evolution of the Senate’s version of the bailout bill, he was reduced to printing out PDFs, arranging them on the floor, and marking them up with a yellow highlighter. [more…]