New Database Tracks Most Used Words in Congress

An interesting project by the Sunlight Foundation tracks the most used words in Congress, allowing users to track them by state or by individual legislator. It’s an interesting example of what can be done to improve government transparency by using Internet tools.

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The Sunlight Foundation has launched an intriguing new project call Capitol Words. The project analyzes the Congressional Record to track which words are being used by Congress and which members are speaking the most.

The results can be interesting. For example, for legislators from Michigan, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow spoke the most in 2008 followed by senior Democratic House members John Conyers and John Dingell. Grand Rapids area Representative Vern Ehlers spoke the 10th most often.

It also shows results per legislator. Representative Vern Ehlers most frequently used the words “lakes,” “energy,” “capitol,” and “research.” Senator Carl Levin used “oil,” “energy,” “price,” and “market” the most, while Senator Debbie Stabenow used “jobs,” families,” “country,” and “able.”

While the Capitol Words project is interesting and some practical projects and analyses could be produced from it, it’s probably a bit more of a curiosity than anything else. Still, it’s a good example of the kind of “Web 2.0” applications that can be created to increase government transparency.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org