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Tag Archive: Mashups

A Challenge from Beth Noveck

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Late last week, after the Sunshine Week Lessig lecture, the always thoughtful Beth Noveck -- law professor and director of both the Institute for Information Law and Policy and Democracy Design Workshop, and friend -- compared the Lessig speech to a June 2007 speech, by open-source-licensing crusader Eben Moglen.

Beth said Moglen is an optimist who is inclined to trust people's ability to collaborate and work together. She wrote that his take on government is revolutionary and evolutionary. Lessig is a pessimist, she says, full of dismay at the state of the body politic, yet wants to preserve the status quo ultimately. (I'm not sure I completely agree with the assessment of Lessig as pessimist but that's not the point I want to make right now.)

Beth says that the best approach is a mash-up of both approaches:"Lessig's orientation toward action and pragmatism with Moglen's boldness of vision." She advocates that we take a whole new look at government institutions and governance, and start using technology to empower citizens in order to fundamentally change the way government works.

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And the Winner Is …..

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We had no idea what a tough task it would be to select a winner for the Mashup Contest we announced two months ago as a way to honor Sunshine Week, but it was. We had about a dozen fabulous entries - some very complex and sophisticated, some less so, but every single one of them was very effective. The staff was certainly glad that the burden for the final choices didn't rest with us.

Today we are announcing the winner is a mashup called "Unfluence". "Unfluence" was submitted as an entry by Greg Michalec and Skye Bender-deMoll. And while their mashup actually uses state campaign finance data (and the APIs developed by a Sunlight grantee - the Institute of on State Money and Politics), it is clear that the underlying code is directly applicable to federal politicians. In fact, the Center for Responsive Politics has been experimenting with similar network mapping. The more data that's available both from the government and the nonprofit sector in mashable forms, the more data can be examined from different perspectives and the more we know about Congress.

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