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The Visualization Prize Goes To

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With Apps for America 2 we wanted to give a special prize to the best visualization. Part of the reson why is because we think that building up the art community inside of Sunlight Labs is a priority and just as important to our mission as the development community. The other reason is because the only way to make big data accessible to people is often by presenting simple, easy to understand visualizations.

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App for America Deadline a few hours away

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We're having an exciting time watching great apps come in -- some great stuff! Remember, get your apps in before midnight pacific time today if you want to qualify! As they come in, we're going to vet them and make sure they qualify for the basic rules of the contest, then open it up for judging by our judges over the weekend.

The entries look great so far!

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Our Fifth Judge

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I'm happy to announce our fifth and final judge in Apps for America 2 the Data.gov Challenge: Cyrus Krohn. Cyrus the Director of Local Programming at Microsoft and former Director of the Republican National Committee's e-Campaign Division during the 2008 election cycle. He was Slate magazine's first employee and launched the groundbreaking webzine in 1996. He brings a unique perspective of having both worked in politics, and worked with local data. We're happy to have him participating as the fifth and final judge.

So, there you have it-- you can follow all the judges on twitter, too:

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Apps for America 2 Update

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With just under a month to go, I thought I'd introduce to you Judge #4 of Apps for America 2: The Data.gov Challenge. Her name is Allyson Kapin, she's the founder of Women Who Tech and Rad Campaign. It is great to have her on board the judging team.

Like I said, there's just a month left to enter the contest. So get building. What we're doing is really important: if we are able to show Government what kind of innovation exists outside its walls, we may be able to create new change on the inside.

We have one more judge to announce soon, but get cracking!

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Surge of EPA data in Data.gov

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Late afternoon yesterday, Data.gov went from 81 feeds to 261, and the EPA overtook the USGS for the agency providing the most data. The EPA added 180 new data files-- the Toxics Release Inventory data for each state and territory as well as for federal agencies for 2005, 2006 and 2007.

This data is interesting stuff-- dozens of CSV files (still in .exe compressed archives, ick) that speak to where corporations and government are managing toxic chemicals. There's lots of interesting data in there. But it isn't just a clear win-- this data is poorly documented byte delimited text files. While we do have some headers provided to get us started, but no real description of the actual files.

If you do end up working with this data for your [Apps for America 2: The Data.gov Challenge] entry, make some notes on how you parsed the data and let's create our own documentation for this data source.

Here's a breakdown of the data in Data.gov as of today:

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New Data on Data.gov

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Good news and Bad news from Data.gov

Looks like Data.gov has added a whole bunch of new feeds, they're up from 47 to 87 in two weeks, not a bad start. Most of the new feeds come from the IRS, they look to be interesting data: 990 forms from 501(c)(3-9) organizations.

That's the good news.

The bad news? It's pretty bad so hold on to your britches.

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Keeping an Eye on Data.gov

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One thing that's curiously missing from Data.gov is an RSS feed for new data feeds. Sort of shockingly, and glaringly left out. We were disappointed, and didn't want to wait. Scraping here is such an easy thing to do that we decided to just build our own. Sunlight Labs' James Turk did it, and it's handy. Here's the feed and here's the source that makes the feed. This should be useful to anyone who wants to see what new stuff is coming out of Data.gov.

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