It's been just over two years since I first started here at Sunlight, and today's my last day.
Over the past two years, we've done some incredible things together. Through Apps and Design for America contests, our community developed nearly 200 open source applications and visualizations on top of government data, for a total expenditure of about $100,000. We built an army of nearly 2000 developers and designers working to change their government. We launched the first wiki bid on Recovery.gov, and changed the FEC using a collaborative testimony.Continue reading
Forms: We have a winner
After discovering the conflict of interest in the forms contest, we scrambled to find a judge. Ultimately, Adobe came through and brought us Stephen Buckley host of OpenGovRadio and blogger at http://www.ustransparency.com. Here's what Stephen had to say about the winner, and why he picked who he picked:Continue reading
Design for America: Mistake 1
Our Design for America contest was great-- we had a lot of great entrants in all the categories. One of the categories I was more excited about was the "Redesign of a Government Form" category. While it was a bit esoteric-- if you think about it, the primary way people interface with government is through forms. Perhaps people think government is mundane, soulless and complicated because government forms are that way.
They don't have to be-- and that's what got us excited about seeing what the design community could do with government forms. To top it off, we selected someone who really helped revolutionize the way web forms got made: Kevin Hale to be a judge.
Unfortunately, what happened was that the winning entrant used Wufoo, Hale's company to build their form. It's a clear conflict of interest between judge and contestant. I made the mistake of not checking out the form's URL when I took the screenshot and catching it (I was in a rush to make the announcement at Gov2Expo), and now we're at a situation where somebody won with a conflict of interest looming.
Sunlight's an organization about transparency and ethics. So first thing's first: there's the confession. We messed up. In order to fix it-- initially we thought about just allowing the community to vote on which one won. But I feel like that doesn't ensure the best result, that ensures the most popular one. And those can be different. So, today we're going to try and find a new judge and give them the opportunity to judge the forms independently of the original results.Continue reading
The Design for America Winners
The Design for America contest led to the most compelling, interesting visualizations of any of our contests. With about 72 entries, the design community stepped up and showed amazing ways for us to view government and imagine new ways for government to serve citizens.
Read about all the winners after the jump.Continue reading
Public Data in your Email
I've been playing around a bit with Rapportive lately. It's a web service that lets you see information about the sender of an email based on publicly available social media profiles. It works on top of Gmail. If you're using Rapportive and see an email from me, it'll show you a picture of me alongside my work history from LinkedIn, my recent twitter activity, and a picture of me.
People put a lot of information about themselves online through the use of social media, but they also pop up in databases the government provides, too. So when we heard Rapportive was offering the ability for developers to create third party raplets we decided to throw something together.Continue reading
More Design for America Judges
I'm happy to announce three new judges for Design for America. Some great people have come out in support of the contest, and we're happy to have them join the program.
The first one is Kevin Hale From Wufoo. Wufoo is a great company that helps make it easy and cheap to build forms for the web. They are real pioneers in the space of form design, and we're really happy to have Kevin help judge the "Best Design of a Government Form" category.
One of our favorite tools for visualization is ManyEyes from IBM's Visual Communications Lab. Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg led this project at IBM and are now in the midst of starting their own firm: Flowing Media. We're happy to have them on board judging the visualization of House/Senate rule proceedings.
We still have many more judges to announce. Stay tuned!Continue reading
The National Data Catalog is Live
After several months in development, I'm happy to announce that the National Data Catalog is up and operational. This site represents months of work by Team Ruby members Luigi Montanez and David James. Since July of 2009 when we kicked off the project, they've been working hard at building a great architecture for the system, and pulling in data pointers from sites like Data.gov, The DC OCTO and Utah's Data Catalog. Presently, we, alongside our volunteers are working on importers for DataSF, Rhode Island, and New York City.Continue reading
Health and Human Services Joins Design for America Contest
Health data is one of those no-brainer transparency issues. While we all have our favorite datasets we want to see released, the Department of Health and Human Services has the capacity to save lives and billions of dollars when it releases its data.
I spoke with Todd Park, the CTO of HHS about his plans, and he asked if there was a way to get developers interested in data from the Agency. Thanks to the Open Government Directive-- which encourages agencies to participate in "innovation contests," a pretty easy fit occured to the both of us: HHS should have a category in Design for America.
So that's what we're going to do.Continue reading
Today we're releasing TransparencyData.com, a new service from the Sunlight Foundation, and technically the most challenging thing we've ever done. TransparencyData lets you query and download bulk data about transparency. We're launching with two datasets that have never been merged before, and without an unprecedented amount of access.
We've merged all of OpenSecrets data with all the data from FollowTheMoney.org allowing you, for the first time, to get a clear picture of campaign contributions at both the state and federal level. Before now, there were two datasets: the OpenSecrets data focusing on federal data, and the FollowTheMoney data, focusing on state data. Now, finally, you can use TransparencyData.com to query, filter, and download this data.Continue reading
As you know, Sunlight Labs has never been a fan of the Content Management System-- we think that overall, they're too clunky and get in the way of an organization's real objective. Putting content online. We started asking ourselves-- is there an easier way? Could we figure out a more agile, nimble way to do things.Continue reading