## Transparency, *-wingers and Legislation

Transparency for U.S. legislation seems like a big nut to crack.

First there is the legislation itself and to be complete, all the revisions, amendments, etc.

Second, there is analysis that legislation, from all sides, from the GAO to “Moles-For-President.”

Third, there is the matching of all the analysis to the legislation and doing so in a timely fashion.

Fourth, useful interfaces so everyone from novices to professional researchers can find the information they need.

Fifth, there is the hardware/software support that would be required to power such a solution.

All that adds up to a large investment in people and infrastructure. Not to mention largely duplicating what has already been done by others.

Let’s take a no-local-copy based view of topic maps That is map to representatives of subjects in place (“in situ” for my archaeology friends).

Offer an interface that allows selection of any part of legislation/regulation and entry of a pointer to commentary on that part.

Capture the enthusiasm of the *-wingers of various persuasions.

Does that reduce the big nut problem down to a smaller one, one that may be doable?

Suggestions?

### 4 Responses to “Transparency, *-wingers and Legislation”

1. Kirk Lowery says:

Your proposal would make legislation (and its process) much more transparent to the public. So you’d have the “pull back the stone and watch the creepy, crawly bugs scurry for cover” problem. The very complexity of the legislative process is part of the attempt to avoid accountability. And then there’s the problem that most legislation is written by staffers and lobbyists and not read or understood by anyone except the writers, if then. Your proposal asks people to read and understand.

Not going to happen in Washington, my friend.

2. Patrick Durusau says:

Not voluntarily, no.

My thought was to make the use of topic maps a matter of self-interest.

That is fund raising based on actual facts rather than tired canards about socialist government or how the rich are looting Washington.

If transparency becomes a matter of self-interest, exposing what the “other” guy is getting, who knows where it could end? Not expecting honest government, just something on a par with Afghanistan.

Karzai should remind Hillary the next time she presumes to lecture him on corruption in government that at least one recent state governor tried to sell a Senate seat. And apparently being a $50,000 fund raiser is the going rate for an UnderSecretary position in the Obama administration. I think that cheapens the office of UnderSecretary. Should be at least$100,000 and that only in exceptional cases, such as actual merit for the office.

Just to be even-handed, I understand ambassador positions in the Bush II administration were 7-figure items.

3. Kirk Lowery says:

“…the use of topic maps a matter of self-interest”

Now there’s a very interesting idea. How about “demanding the use of topic maps as a matter of public policy”?

As for transparency in the public interest, I think what Wikileaks is doing is the right thing, whether or not people are placed at risk. Another web technology used in defense of freedom.

4. Patrick Durusau says:

+1 on WikiLeaks! Now just to use topic maps to connect up all the information.

On the use of topic maps as a matter of public policy, obviously I think that is a good idea.

Here is an example where that would help:

Obama administration has released more than 500,000 visitor records. Which includes all the thousands of regular citizens who visit every day. Oh can you say: Access != Transparency? (Is hiding in public better than his hiding in private predecessor?)

A topic map could help with that by separating out the ordinary citizens from lobbyists, influence peddlers, etc. By linking the visitors to their particular interests, connections to lobbyists, members of Congress, agency heads, etc.