While more than a million e-mails clog the inboxes of Congress each day, some legislators can't even find their own websites without the help of their staffers. In fact, laptops aren't even allowed on the floor of the House or Senate.
But, as Dennis W. Johnson demonstrates in Congress Online, there are some savvy legislators who are taking advantage of new media to expand their power and influence-and the Congressional communications revolution is just beginning. Born out of a Pew Charitable Trusts research project of the same name, Congress Online is the definitive guide to electronic politics, pointing the way to a system that could forge a new and more immediate connection between legislators and the American people.
Who uses e-mail and the Internet -- How Congress communicates with the public -- Different audiences -- Forms of communication -- Part one: the wired citizen -- The new grassroots citizenry -- Information at the click of a mouse -- Connecting with other citizens -- Direct electronic advocacy -- Rise of electronic advocacy -- Where do all the e-mails come from? -- Attraction of e-mail as an advocacy tool -- The perfect communication tool -- Websites as advocacy tools -- Electronic advocacy business -- Electronic grassroots and future advocacy -- Electronic government -- Transformation of government -- State and local governments go to the web -- Promise of websites -- Examples of best websites -- Interesting features -- Opportunities and issues with government websites and e-mail -- E-democracy at the local level -- The federal government on the web -- Opportunities and challenges -- Electronic government and Congress -- Part two: Congress responds -- Old communications and new -- Adapting to new technologies -- Cybercongress -- Internal review and criticism of new technology -- Computers, e-mail, and websites -- E-mail overload -- Current state of congressional e-mail -- Who reads the mail? -- E-mail issues -- After September 11th -- Reaching out to constituents -- The promise of electronic mail -- Congressional websites -- Evaluating congressional websites -- Member websites -- Outstanding features -- Problems persist -- Committee and leadership websites -- What is not on congressional websites -- A congressional portal -- Part three: online democracy and communication -- Challenges and opportunities -- Spending more time in the District -- Access to committee hearings -- 60-day rule -- A congressional chief information officer -- Communication after September 11th and anthrax -- Digital information -- Learning from state legislatures -- Congress and the deliberative process -- A virtual Congress -- Communicating across the divide -- Appendixes: Research methdology and best practices -- Best websites in Congress -- Other government websites -- Citizen-oriented websites -- Congressional website statistics -- Project votesmart national political awareness test.
Published: 4th May 2004