Happy Anniversary, Sunlight
It would have been a great one year anniversary present to have had the Senate's electronic filing bill pass today, but we're not going to let that rain on our parade as we pause, briefly, to celebrate the one year anniversary of Sunlight's public launch. Just 12 months ago, we announced the start up of Congresspedia and the results of national polling that demonstrated — overwhelmingly — the public's support for greater transparency in Congress. We feel like the efforts of our first year have lifted the lid off of what is really possible. Today we marveled at the good luck of the timing of our effort because it seems like our very presence at this time has galvanized more than we ever would have dreamed possible in our first year.
A terrific Wired Magazine piece that appeared today touts three of our grantees — MAPLight.org, Center for Responsive Politics and Congresspedia. It begins: "Tread carefully, politicians — concerned citizens are watching your every move on the web. Their tools? Custom data mashups that use public databases to draw correlations between every vote cast and every dollar spent in Washington." How good do we feel that Sunlight has helped make this — and more — possible?
Then there are other projects we've launched — OpenCongress.org that is putting out information in more user friendly ways for citizens to learn about Congress' work and the Open House Project — an online collaborative effort — that is examining how to make modest technological improvements in how the House operates. We've funded databases that make information about Congress more accessible — FedSpending.org, Revolving Door, Lobbying, Travel, and Personal Financial Disclosure. We've launched numerous efforts to engage citizens in doing research – Is Congress a Family Business? and the Congressional Website Investigation, and we recently launched a Real Time Investigations site. We've nurtured citizen journalism efforts with some of the best in the business — Jay Rosen and Dan Gilmor. We've produced new tools like Popup Politicians and the Labs API and given hundred of hours of consultative work to many organizations in helping them understand and participate in the world of Web 2.0. We've created new educational tools – like Watchdogging 101 and convened meetings between technologists and data gurus that have produced long-lasting collaborative relationships. Because of Sunlight's efforts through our Punch Clock Campaign, five members of Congress now are publishing their calendars openly online – a hopeful new trend. We've worked in coalition with the blogosphere and the mainstream media – right, left and center — to end secrets holds on legislation and advance more transparency for earmarks.
But as importantly, we are changing the way Washington looks at the power of the Internet and how technologists look at Washington. And we've only just begun.
Speaking of which, it's time to get back to the fight.