We had no idea what a tough task it would be to select a winner for the Mashup Contest we announced two months ago as a way to honor Sunshine Week, but it was. We had about a dozen fabulous entries - some very complex and sophisticated, some less so, but every single one of them was very effective. The staff was certainly glad that the burden for the final choices didn't rest with us.
Today we are announcing the winner is a mashup called "Unfluence". "Unfluence" was submitted as an entry by Greg Michalec and Skye Bender-deMoll. And while their mashup actually uses state campaign finance data (and the APIs developed by a Sunlight grantee - the Institute of on State Money and Politics), it is clear that the underlying code is directly applicable to federal politicians. In fact, the Center for Responsive Politics has been experimenting with similar network mapping. The more data that's available both from the government and the nonprofit sector in mashable forms, the more data can be examined from different perspectives and the more we know about Congress.
"Unfluence" creator Skye Bender-deMoll is a researcher and consultant on dynamic networks and visualization. He is also the author of skyeome.net, a blog that publicizes political network related research. Greg Michalec is a free-lance web developer from Oakland, CA who devotes most of his time working with The Midnight Special Law Collective, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal support to a wide range of activists. They hope more people will use "Unfluence" as a transparency tool to better visualize political contribution data.
We are very grateful to Sunlight Board Directors Esther Dyson, EDVenture founder, Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder, and Advisory Board member Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, who served as judges of the contest.
We sponsored this contest to encourage more programmers to think about how to present information in ways that really connect with people's interests. It worked.
Thanks to all who participated.