Many Bills

Posted by – July 24, 2011

IBM has created Many Bills, an interactive visualization of legislators and legislation in the US Senate and House. IBM says Many Bills is:

…a web based visualization that aims to make congressional legislation easier to digest. It presents bills from the House and Senate organized into collections and split into sections which are color coded and labelled to indicate what topic each section is about. It also provides a set of features designed to make it easier to find interesting or unusual parts of bills and communicate your findings to others.

For example, I entered “water” into the search, and found a number of water-relevant bills, each with color-coded highlights to show what sections of the bill effect spending, infrastructure, foreign affairs, natural resources, etc. There is a library of examples, Featured Collections, including collections like American Housing Bills.

This struck me not just as a useful tool for exploring legislation, but also as a great example of what is possible with current Web technology: highly interactive, user-customizable, and allows drilling down into each link. It also employs crowdsourcing, in that users can help assess misfits – sections of bills that seem to be a mismatch for the bill they are in. The design is cleanly done, with a minimum of chartjunk and a maximum of information for each element on the page. Oh, and it runs best in GoogleChrome (sorry IE fans…both of you).

P.S. My thanks to my fellow Fellow, Meadow Anderson, for the tip!