Web 2.0 in a Chart


We talk frequently about "Web 2.0" here at Sunlight. (Yes, we know that's a "buzzword" but it's a handy way of describing the new "read-write" culture of today's Web.) We think a lot about what it means for how Congress presents itself to and interacts with the public. Sunlight's fascinated by (some might say obsessed) with how the interactivity and transparency potential of the Internet can change the relationship between lawmakers and their constituents. How citizens can use the Internet to hold lawmakers more accountable for their votes, their earmarks, who they meet with, and what they say when debating legislation. (To wit, see what Rep. George Miller announced yesterday.) We use Web 2.0 "criteria" for our grant making, making sure that organizations we fund use the Internet in creative, interactive, and as a two-way street in their overall strategy. Even the databases we fund (arguably very Web 1.0 tools) have to be developed with the capacity to be exported in formats that others can use to mash different data sets together.

It's no longer – the web as a publishing vehicle (that is, "write only") — it's the web as social network, the web as the networked public sphere, the web as…well, you fill in the blank.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a meeting recently of mostly corporate executives, many of whom were learning about the Web 2.0 world for the first time and trying to figure out how it was going to affect their companies. (A colleague pointed out that corporate America may adopt the Web 2.0 "slogan" as a marketing ploy but not actually engage in the kinds of activities it implies). It was fascinating to be a presenter there, new as I am to this world, to demonstrate the many ways that Sunlight is using the new tools in its work. From helping to create the first XMLs for campaign contribution data through the National Institute on State Money and Politics, to establishing the Congresspedia wiki, the use of social wisdom on our sites Congresspedia and OpenCongress.org; the distributed research projects of Congress As Family Business to the "cool" tools like Popup Politicians, I realized that we have some useful experience in this world.

I really thought that this chart presented at the conference (ALERT, it's hard to read on the web so it would be best if you could print it out and blow it up as we have done here in the office, and please note that it's 8 MBs!) captured many of the concepts and activities that are the hallmark of the new ways we work on the web.