I went to the Different Tones Wider Nets panel where I learned that we should not be afraid to use bad language on our blogs. Well, it was more nuanced than that but I'm not going to rehash the whole panel. It was pretty good, so nuff said.
Now I'm in the Sunshine Laws for Bloggers panel where I hope to learn more about getting information from the government. Here's a picture of the panel.
(There's Vince on the left).
Boy I sure learned some amazing stuff about Freedom of Information. This panel has dealt more with state and local requests than Federal issues, which Deborah DeHay has told us is rather difficult and arcane. The State of Texas has a Sunshine Law which they say is actually quite good. Mainly what they've said is "request anything". There are restrictions and exceptions, but Robert Guest of NORMAL says worry about the law later, just start asking for info. You have to send a written request but emails count so you can email, fax, or send a letter. There's no paperwork required other than that. He suggested going to the appropriate Public Information Office of the government and simply ask them for the information you want. The more specific the better. There are some caveats of course, one of which is that they can exclude information based on certain criteria and of course they will charge you, but you can get the information.
Here are some good links on that topic.