Loaded for Legislation

By JEgererJEgerer (1261516389|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Well its about time to shift gears to project mode. This entry will be about how I'm using the tools we've learned about to automate my search for banking regulation news and dig for relevant sources.

Project Beginnings

News at the doorstep: RSS Feed Strategy

Search Feeds

So the machine, Google*, has provided yet another improvement putting a fresh face on old technology. RSS search feeds allow you to create a feed of changes to a specific search query. Essentially this allows you to create a blog for your purposes from a bunch of external sources as opposed to spending days on Technorati trying to find someone who is keeping up with exactly what you want to know.

*Google might not have pioneered this but my basic assumption of new technology and cool features is that they come from Google… it's usually valid.

Anyways, to harness this for the purposes of my project I had to organize queries in such a way that it would give me appropriate depth for the project without news and updates being to sparse or too overwhelming. Well, this isn't something you can put into syntax. How do I know whether a feed will generate 2 stories a week or 200, and how can I be sure its catching all the relevant stories?

To do this I started building search feeds that lie on different places on two continuums.

The first is time: <— Weekly…….Monthly……2009…..2006 —>

I want to keep up with changes and ongoing events related to internet gambling regulation so for each feed query (HR 2267, HR 2266, I-Poker Act, Internet Gambling Regulation, Internet Gambling) I've set the data retrieval to weekly, monthly, 2009, and 2006.

The purpose of this is organization and archiving. Now as soon as I log into google reader I can pop up the weekly feed to catch the most recent events. But say down the road in December I am finishing up my project and remember an article that I need to write about, if I am only tracking weekly on my search feed then this article is lost (unless I can remember enough to find it on Google). With the staggered feeds though I can just pop open the 2009 feed and look into the Octobers.

Likewise, the 2006 feed is important because I need to build a background page about the topic which really begin to take stage in Congress in 2006. Sure I can do a Google search and save the page, but isn't much easier to have this in my reader aggregated with all my other sources.

<— HR 2267, HR 2266, I-poker Act…….Internet gambling regulation……. Internet Gambling —>

The second continuum is to ensure that the scope of the project is correct, and that I can control how much or little news on the topic I receive. As mentioned, if my topic was related to say Healthcare, I would be getting thousands of feeds a week.

So my search criteria then is designed like Russian dolls. I start with internet gambling, a query that nets me low relevancy but high output so I can get a big picture of how these legislative changes are interacting with the industry and smoke out specific ideas I might like to follow. From there I search internet gambling regulation this nets largely relevant results with moderate output from which I can pick out information more tailored to the projects perspective (an outside firm analyzing the effect of the UIGEA on the internet gaming industry). From there the searches are much more specific (HR 2267, HR 2266, I-poker Act), these net super relevant results but only output one or two new feeds a week, not really enough to build a project around.

So you could build one feed, 'Internet Gambling' with time parameter '2006 to present' but what do we gain from this? It will be a feed that outputs hundreds of results a week, many irrelevant to my focus, and many outdated. It's just not an efficient way to do things, segmenting by specificity of query and time automatically organizes your results and helps you zero on the proper depth level for the project.

Warning on Outlook:

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It's worth noting that I exported my Google Reader feed to Outlook with less than crisp results. I use outlook for e-mail, love the program, use the calender, etc., but the feed reader might not be as reliable as its other features.

Notice from the picture above in comparing the two feeds Outlook is nearing a month behind, and is feeding the same posts multiple times. The occurred with a number of feeds both those exported from Google and those added manually through Outlook itself. Jim is not impressed. I'll be sticking to web-based feeders for the time being.

Utilizing Authorities

This is an application of Tip #2 from my First Blog Post.

I was a little unclear on how to use this tip, but my basic point was there are many sites designed to find information of the type you are looking for, as opposed to Google or Yahoo! that are designed to find all types of information. So finding a site designed with your topic in mind can often supply you with an internal search engine that will increase the relevancy of your results as opposed to just using Google.

Below are the sites I dug up using Google that have tools specific to my topic, and now I can use them independently of a major search engine to get really specific, relevant results.

Legal Code - Thanks Cornell!

This is a database of U.S. legal code put together by the fine folks at Cornell. From here I can search the code I'm interested in (U.S. 31 5361-5367) for the UIGEA and I get the precise legal language governing changes in the internet gambling industry right now. If I do the same search in Google it's mixed with blogs, articles, etc. and generally a pain to find the legal language I'm looking for.

The Library of Congress

Here is the library of Congresses main page. This has two very useful engines. One can be used to search for a bill by its common name (I-poker Act) or legal name (HR 2267). From this engine you get a snapshot of the legislation — who introduced it, who is sponsoring it, what committees are involved, time line of actions, etc. All these are linked to a more in-depth page as well.

TwoplusTwo - The Authority

Finally, there is TwoplusTwo. This is simply a forum, that operates as the community space for online poker players. This link in specific is to the legislation forum. This is a great spot to ellucidate some of the things you are researching. Here I can search and find threads related to Barney Frank or the UIGEA and more importantly, get lots of opinions and interpretations of what the news means from the industry, individuals, etc. Caveat, forums do not hold the same standards as a news site, and anything read there should be taken with a grain of salt and checked for legitmacy.


Overall I'm really impressed with the functionality and reliability of Google Reader, and the ability to run RSS on searches is really what is driving my project at the moment. Its also very cool that I can just 'share' anything I find relevant and it feeds right to my Wiki site for easy integration with my project pages.

Shared Stuff

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