A new site we'll be watching has been launched by Aaron Swartz, called theinfo.org. Aiming to connect data wranglers of all sorts to each others' complementary skills, he breaks data management into three areas, labeled "get", "process", and "view". As someone passionate about collaborative potential, I enjoy reading this: "We've all been helping to build a Web of data for years now. It's time we acknowledge that and start doing it together."
Many of the Sunlight Foundation's projects are built on scraped, processed, and re-presented data, giving new life to stale, siloed, or simply unavailable public information. Collaboration around the technical aspects of these pursuits is always a welcome development.
It's an awesome collection of about 3,000 images, of the quality you'd expect from the world's largest library. It's wonderful to see them available the same way we expect to share images with each other, sort of making history less of something living in a museum, and more of something available, relevant, and even sorted through tags.
If you're like me, you're likely to do nothing else for the next hour or two...Continue reading
(From the Open House Project blog.)
I'm reading Politics in Time by Paul Pierson (link), and am struck by how little academic political science seems to affect government policy and political discussion. I find political and social analysis incredibly stimulating, especially given how tiresome I find the current presidential punditizing.
I'm particularly interested in Pierson's purportedly novel conception of how political institutions develop over time, apparently filling the gaps that other models fail to address. (He sets his conceptions against "historical institutionalism" and "rational choice theory".) His analysis is abstract enough to be rigorous and challenging at first, but takes a broad enough view that he can abstract common elements out of disparate systems in a useful, applicable manner. He seeks to "explicate different ways in which things happen over time in social life, drawing attention to processes that are unlikely to be visible without specifically addressing questions of temporality" (p. 10). (more)
Yesterday I attended a presentation by ACSI and ForeSee, offering federal agencies the results of the customer satisfaction surveys they use to measure "citizen-customer" relations. Most of the people in the room were investigating the results of the surveys as they relate to the agencies they represent, since customer satisfaction surveys are a metric by which their work is evaluated.Continue reading
I've been on a mission, since November 14th, to find a digital copy of S.Pub 102-20, a reference document from 1990 giving a very comprehensive analysis of all public congressional information, from an archival perspective. I've finally managed to digitize a copy (after some quality time at the scanner). It is a large file. (Click here to download a PDF.)
The preface describes it as a "study of the archival sources that document the operations of Congress." The "archival sources" described in this document comprise the entire body of public congressional information, the substance of both administrative minutiae, and legislative substance. Just as we are interested in the capacity of the public to be conscious of its legislature, we should be interested in the legislature's capacity to take stock of itself, to engage in constructive introspection. (more)
I recently came across a mandate that the GAO perform periodic reviews of financial disclosure practices across the government, which appears to be unenforced and unimplemented. (more)Continue reading
I'm about to head to a hearing from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which, as we learned yesterday amidst a flurry of activity on the Open House Project Google Group, will be viewable, both live and archived, from the Senate committee's website.
This is exciting also because of the content of the hearing, where we'll be hearing from a panel of e-government and technology experts, including CDT's Ari Schwartz, Jimmy Wales of Wikia, JL Needham of Google, and Karen Evans of the Office of Management and Budget.
We expect the hearing to deal with both executive branch e-government implementation, and to also touch on some degree of legislative branch transparency issues, as a committee staffer stopped by yesterday to explain. We'll likely be hearing more about CRS reports, and an initiative regarding THOMAS upgrades, both priorities from the Open House Project report.Continue reading
Paul Blumenthal just came across this document from the GAO, transcribing a pithy speech by the Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker (the head of the GAO). Transparent Government and Access to Information: A Role for Supreme Audit Institutions provides a neat tour of the advantages of transparent public administration, from the viewpoint at the top of the nation's leading accountability officer.
(more after the jump.)Continue reading
I'm glad to have just found the archive of old Web sites from members of Congress, maintained by the Center for Legislative Archives under the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). (more after the jump.)Continue reading