Jim Harper, Webmaster at WashingtonWatch.com, can use our help this weekend.
WashingtonWatch is beginning a soft roll-out of its new crowd-sourcing effort to capture and display earmark data. (Sunlight has provided partial support for Jim's project.) You can find the data-entry interface here (requires login). Jim is asking us all to help test it out by trying to enter earmark data for individual congressional lawmakers, whether your own representative or senator, or maybe one you particularly like or dislike. Jim says that he has found it to be rather addictive fun...And I can imagine many of us would too.
He says that after spending some time getting used to the interface and the buggy way each individual lawmaker listed their earmarks, it should start going quickly.
Next week, Jim will announce a contest -- WashingtonWatch.com will award an Amazon Kindle to the "earmark hunter" who enters the earmark requests for the most individual lawmakers.
Jim has set it up so that any site can input data to a master database, however, you'll need to get a login and instructions of how to set it up on your site from him. This "definitive" data-set will be freely available in whole or in part to anyone. He also says he is willing to help anyone who wants to write code to scrape data from individual lawmakers' submissions and deliver them in bulk. (Frustratingly, each lawmaker announced and displayed their earmarks differently on their site.) Jim is hoping that those of you who are savvy enough will figure out how to collect data more efficiently by writing code to scrape the earmark data from all of Congress.
Just like Sunlight's Transparency Corp, Jim is asking for volunteers to make government transparency a reality.
This is a neat weekend frolic. Have at it.
Send comments/questions/suggestions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.