We're not developers so we can't log in, but it looks very cool -- and it's clearly another clue into the ways the Times hopes to serve its audience in the future, with ways to access significant amounts of information about the world without ever leaving the Times website.
Last year, the Times launched a similar "API" (that's an application
This latest venture, revealed yesterday on the Times's "Open" blog, offers a comprehensive way to watch the votes of a particular member of Congress, or a specific piece of legislation:
The initial release exposes four types of data: a list of members for a given Congress and chamber, details of a specific roll-call vote, biographical and role information about a specific member of Congress, and a member’s most recent positions on roll-call votes.
The four work together, so you can start by retrieving a list of members, find the one(s) you’re interested in and then fetch additional details through other calls. We built this service to work with other publicly available data sources, so you can identify members of Congress with a seven-character code from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. For individual member responses, we included the numeric ID assigned by GovTrack, a free and open-source service that monitors legislative activity.
If you didn't quite follow that -- it's okay, we had to read it three times -- basically the deal is that you type in a number for your representative, and up pops about as much information about their voting record as you could gather in a week at the public library.
Why is the Times squirreling away these rad applications, and launching silly opinion blogs on the front page of its website? These APIs deserve their day in the sun, and not just for developers who gain permission to enter. We're ready for the future, and we like what you're doing. Bring it on.