Today the Sunlight Foundation is proud to unveil Sarah’s Inbox, our attempt to make Sarah Palin’s recently released email records easier to use with a searchable function and an interface similar to Gmail. It builds on Elena’s Inbox, our wildly popular project launched almost exactly one year ago that took the email data of Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan released by the Clinton Library and made it more accessible online.
Sarah’s Inbox allows users to view the more than 14,000 emails from Sarah Palin’s tenure as Governor of Alaska with familiar sorting functions. You can go page by page starting from the most recent emails or, most importantly, search. To help direct folks to interesting items, try some of our sample searches, star emails for later viewing or view the most starred emails by all users.
The project started after we were again approached by folks on Twitter and the Sunlight Labs list (join!) to take this ugly data and add the Sunlight secret sauce to make it user friendly. Initially we were cautious because the cast of characters who directly obtained the data included the likes of the New York Times, ProPublica, Mother Jones and MSNBC.com. We spoke with ProPublica and they encouraged us to take a stab at fashioning our own tool, so we borrowed their data and went to work. Sarah’s Inbox would not be possible if not for the great people at Crivella West to gather, lift, scan and pay for all this data.
Like Elena’s Inbox, Sarah’s Inbox faced staggering issues of data quality because government officials continue to release digital files as hideous printouts requiring a laborious and error-ridden optical character recognition (OCR) pass over. You will notice that many of the emails are garbled, incomplete or contain odd characters – please keep in mind that we did the best with what we had and are not responsible for the content. Due to the programmatic nature of the tools used to build this site, we recommend checking any research effort against the source files.
Disclaimers aside, please enjoy Sarah’s Inbox and tweet interesting items you find with #sarahsinbox.