As many have noted over the past year, transparency in government should mean more than just turning cameras on in an internal briefing or dumping raw data sets on the public. If one merely has access to raw government data – and I include complex legislative text in this category – chances are they are no more informed than they were before gaining access. Individuals – or entities – need to help make sense of that data in ways citizens can understand. (Likewise, availability of raw open data is critical to ensure accuracy of resulting analysis)
In light of that, I wanted to share a new public beta project from the IBM Research team responsible for the ManyEyes Visualization services. The new service, called ManyBills, is aimed at making it easier to explore and understand the legislative process and specific bills, both of which are often too complex for most citizens grasp fully, by offering an interactive visualization of the bill.
From the new ManyBills blog:
Today we are officially launching the public beta of Many Bills, a web-based visualization of US Congressional legislation. Many Bills is a tool that provides a peek into the internals of Federal bills, making it easier to understand and navigate these dense texts. Its interface offers users an overview of this complex dataset while still allowing for full access to the original text.
As you can see from the example above of the new Health Care Bill the output is embeddable on any web page.
I’m still tinkering with it – the tool itself takes a bit to get used to and the produce embeddable visualizations that “fit” the page. But I love the interactivity of the tool. What’s your verdict?