We are very excited to see a grant from Sunlight Network, our sister 501(c) (4) organization, begin to pay off so quickly. Aaron Swartz announced today the launch of watchdog.net via a post on his blog. His overall goal is to make it as interesting and easy as possible to pull people into politics. He’s starting with:
Pull[ing] in data sources from all over — district demographics, votes, lobbying records, campaign finance reports, etc. — and let people explore them in one elegant, unified interface. I want this to be one of the most powerful, compelling interfaces for exploring a large data set out there.
But just giving people information isn’t enough; unless you give them an opportunity to do something about it, it will just make them more apathetic. So the second part of the site is building tools to let people take action: write or call your representative, send a note to local papers, post a story about something interesting you’ve found, generate a scorecard for the next election.
And tying these two pieces together will be a collaborative database of political causes. So on the page about global warming, you’ll be able to learn more about the problem and proposed solutions, research the donors and votes on the issue, and see or start a letter-writing campaign.
He’s developing the site live, and he’s looking for help in putting it all together. We hope you’ll give it to him.