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Tag Archive: Visualization

Open States Source Visualized

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Open States recently reached a milestone in that we now support 40 states (and DC and Puerto Rico) and at our current pace we'll reach our goal of all 50 states by sometime early next year. It is only due to the fantastic support of our community and indviduals who have showed up at hackathons or just started contributing on their own that this goal is now in sight.

I thought it might be fun to look back on how the project has grown, and luckily gource is a piece of software for visualizing the history of a repository can help do just that. Watch below to enjoy a visually stimulating look back through the last two and half years of commits to Open States. You'll see flurries of activity around our hackathons, the drastic increase in activity from 2009 to 2010 and how 2011 so far takes up more than half the video, and some of the big refactors that we've made along the way to scale the project to a size well beyond what we initially conceived of.

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Data Visualization Fellowship

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We've got a new job listing up, and I hope you'll have a look. If you do, you'll see that we're doing something new. This position came about because we decided that we wanted to create more and better data visualizations -- they're interesting, people like them, and they're a great opportunity to experiment with new technologies.

But as we started thinking through how to staff this position, we realized we didn't really want someone who was an expert in d3, or processing.js, or any other presentation technology. Don't get me wrong: finding someone with those skills for this position would be great. But we already have a bunch of talented front-end developers and designers. I think we can present answers in beautiful and compelling ways; what I could really use are better questions.

So, like I said, we're looking for something a little different. The listing says "quantitative social scientist," but you could easily substitute the "data scientist" buzzword that the tech industry seems to be embracing. Whatever you call it, what we're looking for boils down to this: we need someone with the ability to understand the questions that can reasonably be asked of our data; someone who knows the questions that people have asked of the data in the past; and who is be able to find some decent answers of her own. At Sunlight, those questions are likely to be about the U.S. government and the entities that try to influence it. Once you've got an interesting answer, we'll throw all the Javascript and CSS at it that you could ever want.

So please have a look, and if you know folks who you think would be a good fit, pass the link along to them. And if you yourself are thinking about applying, please don't be scared off by the specific requirements -- they describe what we think an ideal candidate would be, but we know that we're likely to find some surprises. This fellowship is a bit of an experiment for us, but I'm excited about the possibilities it represents.

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Data Visualeggzation

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Months ago, Josh and Tim bought an Egg-Bot kit from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. Despite the obvious utility of this piece of office equipment, it fell into disuse not too long after assembly. But with the year's premiere egg-decorating holiday fast approaching, we decided to dust off the Egg-Bot and see if we couldn't put it to good use during our team's weekly lunch meeting. Things kind of spiraled out of control from there. We blame the sugar high from eating all that candy.

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OpenGovernment Is A Finalist For SXSW Accelerator

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We've been really pleased with the enthusiastic response that OpenGov has received since its launch. Today's brought one more bit of good news: the site's been named a finalist in the Accelerator competition of this year's SXSWi. You can find the full details over at the OG blog. Congratulations to David, Carl and the rest of the PPF team!

And while I've got you thinking about state legislative data, check out what Gabriel Florit's done to visualize data from Open States. It's very neat stuff, and a great early example of the kinds of things that we think the project will make possible.

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