About & Project FAQ

For easy reading, the about page for the Olympia Newsriver is presented in a question-and-answer format. Enjoy!

Q: Where did the project name, “Olympia Newsriver”, come from?

A: From the fact that Olympia is our state capital and from Dave Winer’s concept of a “river of news”, which seemed like a good metaphor. We admit we could have called it something like “Washington Bill Tracker”, but that just doesn’t sound as cool. Plus, there’s way too many organizations, lobbies, and things with “Washington” in their name. And some of them refer to the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital, rather than our great state — the real Washington.

Q: Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to call it the “Statehouse Newsriver”? You do know there’s more to Olympia than the Capitol Campus, don’t you?

A: Of course we do – we’ve organized events there, so give us some credit. Olympia is a wonderful city… it has a charming downtown, terrific restaurants (Brewery City Pizza, Meconi’s, Casa Mia, and The Spar, for instance),  a respectable port, and several truly magnificent parks. But we built this website for a diverse audience, including folks from out of state. Calling it the Statehouse Newsriver would be confusing because there’s fifty statehouses in the United States. So yeah, we’re using Olympia as a metonym for the state Capitol. Our apologies to anybody who is offended.

Q: Who selects which bills are tracked through the Newsriver?

A: The staff and board members of the Northwest Progressive Institute. We take suggestions, though, so if you know of a bill that is not on our list but should be, feel free to send us a message and tell us about it.

Q: Does the Newsriver only track progressive legislation?

A: No. It tracks both good progressive legislation and bad legislation that progressives are opposing (for example, a bill to dismantle Sound Transit would be tracked, if it had any legs).

Q: When was the Newsriver first conceived?

A: We’ve long wanted to put this project together — the original idea came about in 2007 — but it was effectively impossible to build before late 2010 because the Legislature’s website was outputting data that was missing key parameters our software needs for sorting. We worked with legislative staff during the summer of 2010 to remedy these problems, and the site you see before you is proof of our success.

Q: What technologies does the Newsriver use?

A: The Newsriver makes use of Debian, Apache, SimplePie, and WordPress, as well as aggregation and filtering technology developed by NPI. The design and layout are based on Unnamed Lite by Xu Yiyang.