This week's Recovery.gov "Chairman's Corner" reminds me of my first soccer game. At 5 years old, I was so excited to get the ball passed to me. I was so focused on keeping my eye on that ball just like my Dad told me. And as I dribbled it down the field I was thrilled to hear my parents scream in support. I was amazed at how good I was at this game-- nobody from the other team was blocking me and own teammates seemed to be flapping their arms encouraging me to take the shot! As I reached the end of the field, I grinned and gave that ball the kick of a lifetime, only to watch it fly by my own goalie's quizzical face.
Devaney's post is a defensive one, speaking to criticism from who he calls "journalists and Internet grouches," and an attempt to "bury the urban legends about the Board and the recovery program." Most of the critiques came out about six months ago, in October, when the data was released.Continue reading
While we're participating in Google's Summer of Code, we're also looking for some great developers to come spend some time learning the ins-and-outs of public datasets over the course of the summer.
If you're a student who wants to pick up great skills-- learning how to scrape and transform data, learning how to research and verify data's accuracy or learning how to architect big-but-not-very-big datasets, or if you're a super engineer who just wants to give back this summer, we'd be happy to talk to you.
Here are our four Sunlight Labs summer slots:Continue reading
With TransparencyCamp kicking off this weekend, I want to issue a challenge to the entire open government and transparency community to help solve three big, easy problems. Starting this weekend, I'd like us to plan how we're going to solve these problems, and to have them solved them all by July 4th, 2010. We'll call it "Data Independence Day."
These ideas need full participation from as many people as possible and as many ideas as possible to get the best result. As such-- in conjunction with Phil Ashlock (who is awesome) over at TOPP Labs (who are awesome) we'll be working on these not only at TransparencyCamp here in Washington, DC but also at OpenGov West (which is awesome)
Here are the three big problems I want us to solve together:Continue reading
Our next contest, and first of two contests of 2010 is "Design for America". As we talked about in January, opening government involves more than just developers: we need the art and design community to take data from our government and tell stories about it.
Part contest, part festival, the Design for America contest's intent is to inspire the design community to tell great stories about how our government works, what our government does, and what it could do. It's a contest as much about possibility as transparency, and with categories ranging from infographics to web design, there's plenty for all to compete in. Each category has a $5,000 prize associated with it now, and as we gain sponsors for each category, we'll be increasing the prizes associated as sponsorship allows.
Read more about it after the jumpContinue reading
Today Representative Steve Israel introduced the Public Online Information Act calling for government to:
Create an expert committee for all three branches of government to steer government towards making datasets publicly available in meaningful ways.
Direct the executive branch to consider guidelines issued by that committee and for the CIOs of various agencies to do the same thing, and
Place online all publicly available government documents and data held by the executive branch. This includes everything they've got, with a few potential exceptions: classified information, personnel rules, trade secrets, "priviliged inter/intra agency memos", information affecting an individuals privacy, law enforcement records, records of financial institutions, and most importantly, geographical information concerning wells. Those are the same exceptions as in FOIA.
Recently and continuously, the White House has been releasing the "White House Visitor Logs," showing America who is coming in to meet with the President and his staff. At the same time, the Center for Responsive Politics releases cleaned up data on lobbyist filings. We thought it'd be interesting to find the intersect between the names in both sets of data.
After the jump, you'll find our results along relevant information from both sets of data. Now-- this is important: just because the names match doesn't mean they're the same person. Because the White House doesn't release any other form of identity information besides the name, we're unable to tell whether or not the name in one dataset actually refers to the same person in the other. John Adams in one dataset may be a different John Adams in another.Continue reading
Why your non-profit stands to benefit from Open Data
Often times at Sunlight the non-profit community looks at us strangely. Here in Washington, DC we've probably made more investments in technology than any other non-profit or advocacy organization I've run across. Certainly our mission is focused around the use of technology, so that makes a lot of sense-- we're focused on getting data out of government, doing interesting things with it, and letting you see what happens in Washington better. That means technology investment.
But one question I struggle with is: why doesn't every non-profit advocate for open data from the Government? Don't ALL of them stand to benefit?Continue reading
Following up on my hypothetical post on what would happen if Government had done the same thing that Google did with Google Buzz, I'd like to imagine something different: what if something like Google Buzz happened to government? What if, out of nowhere, the Executive Branch of government started exposing the most frequent contacts of each Senate Confirmed appointee based on their email inboxes? What would happen if we could, for instance, pull up Rahm Emmanuel's "Buzz" profile and see who he followed and who was following him, based not on his preferences, but based on the frequency of email contacts alone?Continue reading
A couple of developers from the Sunlight Labs community, including one of our Great American Hackathon organizers Jessy Cowan-Sharp, managed to put together something remarkable: OpenGovTracker (source here). The site lets you see where the ideas are coming in across the various agencies from a single dashboard.
What's the synopsis? According to this it's that the American People don't have a lot of ideas. Well-- a lot of agencies are pretty low on ideas. Only 611 ideas have been proposed. Treasury only has a dozen ideas? The best the American people can do is give Social Security 10 new ideas?.Continue reading
Three days ago Google released Google Buzz-- a product that got a lot of folks excited-- especially here in the Labs. But fairly quickly people understood something-- Google took a step across an invisible privacy fence. A lot of people are critical or downright ticked off. Google had, in fact, exposed who we communicate with the most to the world.
If the Federal Government released a product similar to Google Buzz, what would have happened?Continue reading