Monday, August 5, 2013

Track what our legislators are up to with Capitol Words!

If you've been frustrated by Congress' lack of productivity, you might be interested in tracking the legislature's activity with Capitol Words. Capitol Words is a project launched by the Sunlight Foundation; the project "indexes and tokenizes the Congressional Record" allowing users to see which issues lawmakers address daily, weekly, monthly and yearly as well as the most popular words spoken by lawmakers on the House and Senate floor.

The Capitol Words start page
The utility of Capitol Words is wondrous! Let's say you read this recent CNN article on the child custody rights of rapists, and were shocked that in "31 states, rapists do enjoy the rights of a father." You might wonder how frequently or infrequently each party in the legislature has discussed rapists in the Congressional Record:

The Capitol Words results screen for "rapists"

You might also find yourself interested in comparing the occurrence of rapist with the occurrence of "rape survivor" which is a function also offered by Capitol Words:

The Capitol Words results screen comparing "rapists" and "rape survivor"

The results include a breakdown of the occurrence of the terms between parties as well as frequency of the terms between 1996 and the present.  Capitol Words has many uses and can be revealing of legislative trends, party differences on specific issues, significant periods for particular subjects and so much more!

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