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Open States: 50!

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Three years ago at PyCon 2009, we had the first PyCon Open Government Hackathon. Our big project was Open States (then the 50 State Project). The goal was to begin scraping state legislatures' websites in the hope of providing a common format for bill metadata across all 50 states.

Today, as we kick off the 4th Annual Open Government Hackathon at PyCon we're extraordinarily happy to announce one of the most significant milestones in the history of Open States: as of today, all 50 states (as well as DC and Puerto Rico) are now supported via our API and bulk downloads. This makes Open States the first and only completely open, completely free resource for accessing legislative information in a uniform format across all 50 states.

This is a proud day for all of us here and for everyone who has contributed to the project. Over the past three years Open States has grown to be much more than we'd envisioned and a great deal of that is due to great suggestions, contributions, and uses by the entire Open States Community. It is no coincidence that Open States has become Sunlight's most contributed-to open source project; we needed the community to make this project happen, and over 40 of you have answered the call.

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Sunlight at Southby (and PyCon!)

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In a few short hours I and much of the rest of the internet will be descending on Austin, TX for SXSW Interactive. If you're among the folks who'll be attending, I hope you'll consider coming by one or more of the panels and events we'll be doing:

But even if you can't make it to the panels, we hope you'll say hello -- just drop either Drew or me an email (tlee/dvogel (at) sunlightfoundation.com) or tweet at the @sunlightlabs account.

For those of you headed to California instead of Texas, note than an even bigger contingent of labs staffers is currently winging its way toward PyCon. They'll be leading our now-traditional open government code sprint, looking for folks who want to contribute to Open States and/or a new, super-secret (well, not really) community project.

Merry conference-going to all -- we're looking forward to seeing some old friends, and to making some new ones.

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Sunlight @ PyCon 2011

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Two years ago we held an Open Government Sprint at PyCon 2009. We had never hosted an event like that before, and had no idea what to expect. To our amazement we ended up with one of the largest groups of any of the sprint projects, completely filling our room for the first few days. Approximately 30 people attended and kicked off what has now become the Open State Project.

Next week, we'll be heading to PyCon and hosting an Open Government Hackathon for the third year in a row. The primary focus will again be the Open State Project but our space is open to everyone interested in government data. If you have a project you'd like to hack on let us know and I'll be sure to mention your project when I plug the sprint. If you aren't attending PyCon but happen to be near Atlanta you're welcome to join too, the Hackathon is free and open to the public (March 14th-16th @ the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta).

Additionally, I'm going to be presenting a poster on the technical aspects of the Open State Project on Sunday. I'll be around to talk about the project itself but also web scraping and opening government data in general, so if you're at PyCon stop by during the poster session Sunday morning and say hi.

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Open Government Hackathon: Chicago, March 29-31

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Sunlight Labs is proud to be hosting the first ever Open Government Hackathon, March 29-31 in Chicago as part of PyCon.

This will be a 48 hour sprint where developers that are interested in contributing to an open source project that will free or otherwise enhance government data can gather to brainstorm and hack on various projects related to government data.

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