What’s Going On In The Labs


… or what was going on in the labs. I’m horribly late in posting this — it turns out that I’m much, much worse at this than Josh was. Just another piece of evidence that we need more talented folks around here! Remember, we still have open positions.

Luigi has been working on Datajam, a data-driven platform for reporting live events on the Web. You can follow its development on Github. Datajam will soon power our Sunlight Live events.

Jeremy has been working on various Sunlight sites including the relaunch of the Advisory Committee on Transparency. February also saw the launch of Capitol Defense, a JavaScript/SVG/HTML game developed with Andrew and Chris. Other various interesting tasks included: launching Sunlight Jobs, teaching a half-day HTML class to Sunlight employees, releasing django-cloudmailin which we use for blog post drafting via email, and preparing for TransparencyCamp 2011.

Ethan attended the Computer Assisted Reporting Conference, worked on an algorithm for fast entity matching in text, and researched new content for the Influence Explorer homepage. He’s now planning for new corporate accountability datasets and new lobbying-related features.

Eric released the Real Time Congress API, and version 3.0 of the Congress app for Android. He also continued his work on an upcoming mobile app to help people make better local health care decisions.

Kaitlin had a lovely vacation and then spent several days updating the USASpending data on Subsidyscope and is now squashing bugs in the soon-to-be-expanded tax expenditure database on the site. She also interviewed many a candidate for Subsidyscope and pitched in a little bit on the Clearspending testimony.

timball has been crying a lot over ISPs and is starting to familiarize himself with Chef, a new ruby based scaling solution. Also he says he gained 5lbs from eating in NOLA. We thought you should know.

Chris has been fabulously wireframing new layouts for the House Staff Directory, designing magically delicious HTML emails and newsletters, creating spectacular presentations promoting Sunlight’s awesomeness, and providing Sugar-free-Red-Bull-fueled graphics support for a variety of little projects along the way (e.g. Capitol Defense, one Influence Explorer postcard, Sunlight’s meetup page, new Twitter background, etc).

James and Michael have continued the process of expanding the reach of the Open States Project and migrating content to the new site The most recent update brings the project to 20 states and the District of Columbia. New functionality in the API is in the works, including the ability to query for bills by sponsor or issue area. We are also working on adding more ways for people to access the data without having to access the API directly.

Aaron added an additional lobbying dataset to the Reporting Group’s lobbying tracker. Users can now see a list of post-employment notifications for former congressional staffers and members, including when they’ll be eligible to lobby their old colleagues. He’s also continued work on Capitol Words.

David is working on an analytics dashboard. He uploaded some sample data to Google’s Public Data Explorer. He worked on pulling out structured data from GAO reports — making some progress but also hit some obstacles.

Caitlin has been working with Eric and the reporting team on nailing down wireframes for the healthcare app and has been translating them into pretty sexy comps. She is also working with the other Kaitlin to redesign and streamline the Subsidyscope site. …and stuff. She also helped launch the new Openstates site since the last Labs update.

Ali has been making a lot of ads lately to remarket the Sunlight Foundation and the reporting group and for new and upcoming Sunlight Live events. She has also been working on building out a new page for the organizing section of the Foundation and Sunlight Live.

Andrew has been working on new tools for adding influence-related context to text, focusing on a plugin for enhancing Gmail. He has also been experimenting with new scraping technologies.

Alison has been updating our Wikipedia scraper to pull in corporate logos to display on the organization pages in Influence Explorer. She has also been working on adding information to Influence Explorer detailing which bills organizations hired lobbyists to work on.

…and I (Tom) have been working on a bunch of proposals, organizing meetings around the corporate ID issue, writing some testimony related to Clearspending, and trying to find staff to fill the spots left by Josh and Kevin’s departures. Also, daydreaming about what we’re going to do with these enormous 7-segment LEDs.