Letter to the Senate

Regarding RSS feeds. Submitted via email 21 April, 2003.

United States Senate

Dear Webmaster,

Thank you for your hard work and development on the U.S. Senate web site. I find it to be an excellent, up-to-date resource for learning more about the Senate.

I have a suggestion to make regarding the site. I think you should make the floor schedule, committe schedule, Senate news, and all other time-based information regarding the Senate available to the web in RSS format.

RSS is an XML format for web site syndication. It lists the most recent files added to a web site, and is updated whenever a site is updated.

RSS files or "feeds" are then downloaded on a recurring basis by two groups of people: those who read the items in an RSS file inside of "news aggregators," and web sites that display items in an RSS file as headlines. A web site that both displays such headlines and makes them available to other sites is Slashdot.org.

(You may know all about this already. If you don't, a good place to start in learning about this topic is this web site....)

I suggest this course of action because, by adding RSS feeds to the site, you would allow thousands of individuals (and, in the next few years, millions) to have regular, daily access to the latest information about the actions of the U.S. Senate, and you would allow personal web site publishers to include Senate headlines on their own web sites.

I believe this would be a marvelous use of the Internet to encourage a participatory public and open flow of information regarding the actions of the Senate. I publish a web site, Ftrain.com, which has a regular audience of civic-minded individuals. Many of my readers, I know, would welcome an opportunity to skim through recent Senate actions. An RSS feed would make it easy for me to include Senate activity on the front page of my site. It is a small thing, but I believe it would be a low-cost effort that would increase the ability of American citizens to engage more fully in understanding the actions of the legislative branch of our government. Sort of like a really simple, low-budget, XML-based version of C-SPAN.

In researching the issue, I have found that I am not alone in this desire. The supreme court of appeals of West Virginia, for instance, makes their RSS feeds available with recent opinions, and civil, criminal, and family topics.

I am by no means an expert in all aspects of both Senate process and the dynamics of XML syndication, but I understand enough to help you in planning your RSS feeds. If you would like me to act as an informal advisor for this effort, or explain my ideas further, I would be glad to volunteer time via email or over the phone. Please send me an email if I can be of any assistance.

Best Wishes,

Paul Ford
188 W 9 St #5
Brooklyn, NY 11231-3954




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents