In and around Washington D.C. today, one of the hottest buzzwords flying around is “digital government.” Millions of people are logging on to the web every day to get informed about, and get involved in the political process. They can register to vote, fill out their tax forms, join a grassroots campaign, donate money to political causes, read the news, read opinions, and voice their own for everyone to read, all from the comfort and convenience of their own home.
The information available out on the web is virtually limitless, and its audience is just as vast. During the 2004 presidential campaign, 75 million people used the internet to read news, get information about, and discuss the election. For online political news consumers, “mainstream” news websites were the most popular sources for political information, and one in four of people in this group said they used “alternative” news sources as well.
The goal of this project is to attempt to arrange the wealth of political news on the internet into a more organized, digestible format, so that users can spend less time searching the news for their interests, and more time learning about them. The system will employ Latent Semantic Indexing technology so that each news article is indexed by its relevance to a particular political issue, as well as the elected officials mentioned in the article. This index is then accessible via a simple web-based user interface.