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Tag Archive: Sunlight Labs Update

Labs Update: May 2012


Like a phoenix rising from its ashes on a monthly basis, it's Labs Update time!

TransparencyCamp 2012

It may be cliché to say, but TransparencyCamp 2012 was the best TCamp ever! GROUP HUG! We doubled attendance from last year with over 400 attendees from 26 US states and 27 countries. Anything I write here won't do the awesomeness of the event any justice so just watch the video:

TransparencyCamp wouldn't have been possible without the effort and expertise of the entire Sunlight Foundation staff, but I want to highlight the work of our newest designer, Amy Cesal. Event branding was her first task here in the Labs and I think it's pretty clear that she knocked it out of the park. Great work, Amy!

Open State Project

Sunlight Boston got the chance to spend a week with us at the DC headquarters during TransparencyCamp. It was great having them in office, even if Paul is a tab zealot.

Paul and James have done a lot of work on the API side of the project, implementing full-text search and enhanced event support as it relates to committees and bills. Thom has been focused on getting the public site closer to launch, working on the new design with Ali and refining news/blog aggregation.

James also released a new version of scrapelib. The update features FTP and retry support, optionally obeying robots.txt and a pluggable caching layer. scrapelib is now based on requests, Kenneth Reitz's ubiquitous HTTP library.

Influence Explorer

It's non-stop data with the Influence Explorer team. Ethan worked to add Super PAC and independent expenditure sections on profiles. Alison processed updates to Contractor Misconduct data from POGO. Andrew did more work on the new regulatory filings section, which is planned to launch sometime in July.


Eric recently launched an open beta of Scout, an alert system for the things you care about in state and national government. It covers Congress, regulations across the whole executive branch and legislation in all 50 states.

You can read more details about the project in Eric's launch blog post, but here is a quick rundown:

  • notifications via email, SMS, RSS and JSON
  • searching for keywords and phrases in bills, speeches and regulations
  • detailed activity on specific bills

Scout is yet another new Sunlight project that is built almost exclusively on our public API services including Open States, Capitol Words and Real Time Congress.

Team Journalism

Ryan investigated the exciting and fast-paced world of tariff suspensions for a piece she wrote on the miscellaneous tariff bill process.

Lee has been running a grade level analysis of congressional speeches, which have been declining over the last seven years. The piece, which I hope scores higher than congressional speeches, should be published within the next week or two.

Jacob crunched third quarter independent expenditure numbers after monthly and quarterly filers posted results this month, is beginning work on a Party Time redesign to take place this summer and threw together a real-time FEC filing system monitor.

Open Source

Now that we are up to 186 open source projects on GitHub, I figure it's about time we feature the best of what we've got. Newly released projects include:

  • citation is a JavaScript library for extracting US Code citations from blocks of text. Eric has also provided citation-api, a small node.js wrapper to provide citation as a service.
  • bill-nicknames is a project to crowdsource popular names for bills. The goal is to map popular-but-unofficial names like 'Obamacare' to the official bills to which they refer.
  • oyster is a service for tracking regularly-accessed pages. It will cache pages that are frequently scraped, downloading new versions when page content changes.


  • Our pals at Cubox are working to get DataJam ready for public use
  • Daniel has been working on tools for the manual collection of political ad buy files at TV stations around the country.
  • Drew and Kaitlin have been working on SuperFastMatch and related tools, including a browser extension.
  • Ali and team have been designing for a bunch of projects including the new Open States public site, Sunlight Academy, the Sunlight Foundation redesign, Scout and Party Time.
  • Dan crunched numbers for a bunch of stories based on Capitol Words and has been looking into new technologies and data sets to be included in the project.
  • Tom has been helping to manage the third Knight app's progress, working on some new project proposals and desperately clawing his way out of a huge pile of email that accumulated during tcamp.
  • A Sunlight Olympics hack, but not the one mentioned in the post, has grown into a full project! We'll have more details next month and an announcement at Personal Democracy Forum in June.
  • May's album of the month is Threads by Now Now. I'm sure some of my coworkers may disagree, but they have no say in this post… so there!

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Labs Update: April 2012


It's time again for our monthly Labs update. APRIL FOOLS! It's only been bimonthly so far this year! Oh, man, I got you so good.

Anyway, here's what we've been up to:

PyCon US 2012

Sunlight Foundation had a strong presence at PyCon consisting of Kaitlin, James, Thom, Paul and me. Our annual Open Government sprint didn't disappoint as we got a lot of participation on Open States and a new semi-announced project. This was also the first chance that Kaitlin and I got to meet Paul and Thom, confirming that James is in fact capable of hiring good people.

We also trekked through 20 minutes of office parks just to get to In-N-Out Burger. That's dedication.

Upwardly Mobile

screenshot of Upwardly Mobile

We finally launched! Check us out on your desktop, phone or tablet at We've also created a launcher app for Android devices so that you can have a convenient icon on your home screen.

Upwardly Mobile is Sunlight's first responsively designed site. We learned a lot in the process and hope to use this method more often in the future.

Upwardly Mobile lets you find out where in the country it's best to live by comparing various types of salary, living and employment data and ranking it based on your preferences. While economics are not the only factor in the decision of where to live, the app can be useful to help you find locations that you may have not considered before.


Work has begun on the third and final app, codenamed K3, for our grant with the Knight Foundation. We are taking a more thoughtful approach with this app, working with the fine folks at IDEO on the purpose and design of the project. Tom, Ali, Anu and I spent a few days out in San Francisco with the IDEO team getting a feel for their process and working through goals for the app. I also took the opportunity to eat massive amounts of raw oysters and fennel; my belly misses you, San Francisco.

Sunlight and IDEO teams together

We are entering a research phase now to identify the data sets that will support the app ideas that have been proposed. From there it will go back to IDEO for wire-framing and interaction design, then back to us for execution. Launch is scheduled for fall!

Check out our other apps from the Knight Grant:

Influence Explorer

Influence Explorer now contains frequently updated campaign finance data from the FEC! High five to Ethan for all of his work on this. The new data shows up-to-date fundraising for candidates and PACs, as well as new tables for Independent Expenditures. Alison worked on new data updates for campaign contributions, federal grants and contracts, and federal advisory committee data so that IE stays as accurate and relevant as possible.

Andrew has mostly been toiling away on Sunlight's upcoming regulatory-comments-tracking site, but also snuck off to speak at Transparency Works last week in Vilnius, Lithuania.


It's been a long time coming, but OpenStates has reached all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico in either production or experimental status! This is a huge accomplishment and a testament to James' dedication, talent and lack of anything else to do. Document-related features will be coming to the API, laying the groundwork for much-awaited full text search and document comparison.

Paul and Thom have been working hard on data quality improvements to move the remaining states from experimental to production status. The team will soon begin work on a new web interface for OpenStates, opening up the API data for anyone to browse.

Semi-public Scraper Project

Daniel put together a mini-site for the not-yet-quite-ready-for-the-public scraper project that uses ScraperWiki to collect congressional information. We ran some initial trials of the project at PyCon and a ScraperWiki event here in DC. We'll be making a decision soon if this project will graduate from the experimental stage. If so, we'll be sure to announce it here.

Team Journalistic Integrity

Jacob has expanded the super PAC tracker to include all independent expenditures and electioneering communications, as well as all committees making independent expenditures or electioneering communications.

Ryan's had the opportunity to report on two national news stories -- the Trayvon Martin shooting and the Virginia ultrasound bill -- using the SuperFastMatch technology that is being developed by Media Standards Trust. She used the tool to identify states that had adopted model legislation written by special interest groups. Ryan has also been working on stories and projects related to campaign finance in order to reveal who really influences the way Washington works and how they do it.

Lee has been working with Planet Money and This American Life on the value of congressional committee assignments and figuring out how much lobbying lowers corporate tax rates. Check out This American Life episode 461 that features the work of Lee and the rest of the Sunlight Foundation!

Team Leadership

Tom has been doing some traveling: San Francisco the K3 kick-off meeting with IDEO, and Austin to join a panel at SXSW and eat some tacos (mostly the taco part). In between he worked with Ryan on her SuperFastMatch project. At the moment he's working on hiring and a project proposal; next week it's back to the west coast.

Team Retribution

Hellcats promotional image

Ali has spent much of the past two months undoing an organization-wide re-branding she secretly undertook late last year. Ali was a huge fan of the CW's cheerleading show Hellcats and spent many months creating themed templates for all of our sites. You should have seen the theme for the Labs site: Alice, standing at the side with her injured wrist, giving the evil eye to Lewis and Marti as they practice. She'll have to find another outlet to mourn the cancellation of the show though; it doesn't quite fit into our mission as a government transparency organization.

This is a lie. Ali didn't send me anything for this update so I got to make it up for her.


  • Tim just returned from China bearing gifts as consolation for any servers that broke during his absence.
  • Poligraft is about to get faster and more accurate thanks to swell work from Dan.
  • Capitol Words might be getting some new data sets soon. More on that in a future update.
  • Eric has been working on getting a new government information search and alert web site ready for launch.
  • Using technology developed from his compulsive need to track every item he purchases, Daniel has been working on a prototype of a bar code scanning app that would connect products to the political contributions of the companies that produce them.
  • The final six sectors of SubsidyScope have launched!
  • Our new designer, Amy Cesal, will be starting next week!
  • We are still hiring.
  • Album of the month: Threads by Now Now.
  • Smoothie of the month: black cherry, strawberries, cocoa powder, and avocado from Yola.

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Labs Update: February 2012


Previously in Sunlight Labs: Influence Explorer redesigned, James moved to Boston, and Capitol Words was released. So then why is Luigi cleaning out his desk? Where did Transparency Data go? Why is Ethan calling in to the morning check-in meeting? Find out on this episode of Labs Update!


Let's start off with some terrible news; Luigi Montanez has up and left the Labs. He'll be working for a new startup in the world of politics so I'm sure you will see much more of his amazing work in the near future. The local frozen yogurt and frozen custard shops will feel the loss of his business.

We also recently said goodbye to designer Chris Rogers. Did you like our Indecent Disclosure poster or the Transparency Camp 2011 branding? That's just two examples of her fine work.

...lead to open positions!

Sunlight Foundation is hiring!

If you haven't noticed, this is a really great place to work. Talented people, a fun environment, and lots of nearby delicious food. We also do really important work.

We're even offering a referral bonus: if we hire your suggestion, I'll give you a sincere hug.

Sunlight Seattle and Influence Explorer

Goodbye, Transparency Data! As part of an effort to streamline our branding, has been transformed into If you rely on the Transparency Data API, do not fret; it is the exact same API at a new URL and with much nicer documentation. All calls to Transparency Data URLs are being forwarded to the new domain so don't freak out thinking that all of your projects have broken.

In data-related news, Alison has recently refreshed state campaign finance data with the latest dump from Ethan has wrapped up development on a project I hinted to at the end of last year where we will be pulling in timelier, but messier, data directly from the FEC. Andrew has been cleaning up much of IE's JavaScript infrastructure and working on a new site highlighting influence on the regulatory process.

Influence Explorer team lead Ethan has moved to Seattle, but will still be working remotely for Sunlight. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Seattle is quite limited so I've no witty jabs to include here. If you have any, please contact me.

Sunlight Boston and the Open States Project

It's like a spin-off of your favorite sitcom, but just as good as the original. Sunlight Boston is fully staffed with new hires Paul Tagliamonte and Thom Neale. Rounding out the team is a new data quality intern, Nina Psoncak. They're based out of a hip co-working space so if you find yourself in the area, stop by, compliment their code, and tell them how much cooler they are than Sunlight DC.

And they are getting work done too! Scrapers have been fixed and/or updated for California, Delaware, Colorado, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. billy, the underlying scraping system, now allows for the merging of legislators. The Open States API has been updated with several feature requests to better support mobile clients.

Sunlight Live

We took the State of the Union address as an opportunity to try out our new Sunlight Live platform, Datajam. Dan and Luigi (before his defection) did a really amazing job on the project. The event administration tools and chat module are super slick.

Upwardly Mobile

Upwardly Mobile cow

I've talked about it for months, but seriously, we are wrapping up Upwardly Mobile! The finishing touches are being added (animated cow, need I say more?), communications and organizing are planning the launch, and I'm wrestling with final tweaks to static maps generated with matplotlib.

Work begins on the third Knight app soon! We'll have an exciting announcement about a new partner that will be working on it with us.


As the number of APIs we offer increases, so do the number of client libraries needed to work with each service. The madness must stop! Paul has started work on python-sunlight, a grand unified Python wrapper for (eventually) all of Sunlight's APIs. We are launching with support for the Capitol Words, Congress and Open States APIs. An experimental version of the Influence Explorer API is included and work on the Real Time Congress API will begin soon. Just pip install sunlight to get started. Python and Sunlight are BFF.


As the Subsidyscope project winds down, Kaitlin and Drew have updated the data with the latest release from and prepared six more sectors for impending launch. They've also been working with Superfastmatch for some upcoming projects.

Team Journalism

The Sunlight Reporting group has historically been responsible for all journalistic output, but in recent months Labs has been taking an increasing role in our reporting. We've got access to these vast data sets, so why not do something worthwhile with them, right?

Joining the team is new hire Jacob Fenton who will be working as our embed in the Reporting Group. Since starting at Sunlight he's been knee deep in the swampy morass commonly known as raw FEC campaign finance reports. Ryan and Lee have been covering super PACs and elite donors for the 2012 presidential campaign.

Team Sysadmin

With our ever expanding troop of remote workers, Tim was tasked with finding a solution to replace our existing (and terrible) conference call system. Using ambient mics mounted in the ceiling, a mixer, a web cam, and Google Hangouts, Tim was able to rig up a solution that works surprisingly well!

our ceiling robot microphone

When the robot's nose glows green, you know you are being broadcast.

Team Tom

Tom has been (with much help from James and Daniel) setting the groundwork for a new scraper project (GASP!, literally) that we'll be asking you all to lend a hand with (stay tuned for more on that). Otherwise it's been the usual glamorous mix of contracts, grant reports, negotiating metrics and dealing with turnover. But he did buy a BeagleBone, which is kind of exciting (less so for Tim, who's been receiving a lot of tedious questions about rc.d and wpa_supplicant as a result).


  • Ever wondered if there are any crazy late night Tweets from members of Congress that get deleted the next morning? Eric is working on a project that will help uncover long lost updates from Congress.
  • Shouldn't come as a surprise, but there's been another awesome update to Congress for Android consisting of design updates and search features.
  • Daniel released Lapidus, a metrics tracking dashboard we will be using internally to track our goals.
  • February should see the release of the 180° project which will turn the cameras on the audience at Congressional committee hearings.
  • Ali has been slowly rolling out our new logo as the rebranding effort continues. The next few months should see updated identity on all of our properties including a completely new!

    new Sunlight Foundation logo

  • An awesome new release of the Congressional Roku app is coming soon.

  • February's afternoon snack of the month is the PBJ smoothie at Yola. Tell them Sunlight sent you and they'll look at you weird because they don't know who we are!
  • The sandwich gods are smiling upon Sunlight.

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Labs Update: December 2011


It’s the most wonderful time of year… Montgomery County property tax payment time! It’s also the holidays, which are quite nice as well. Things are wrapping up here in the Labs before we head off for winter break. We have a lot going on right now and even more big plans for next year.

In tangentially related news, Scott Weiland released a holiday album. I can sense your blank stare from here… please don’t let it distract you from reading the rest of this post.

Influence Explorer

The Data Commons team has launched a redesign of Influence Explorer that greatly improves navigation on long, complex profile pages. As you scroll, the navigation bars stay with you so that you know which data set you are currently viewing and can jump between them quickly. The year selector also follows you so that you can easily switch to different year views.

Ryan and Lee have been working closely with Ethan to dig through the data stored in Influence Explorer. Interested in reading up on lobbyist bundling for the Super Committee? How about the political ties behind Zuccotti Park? Want to find out how lobbying can reduce your tax rate?

In addition to all this lovely work, the team has been acquiring more timely campaign contribution data from the FEC, exploring the federal regulatory process and upgrading the server infrastructure.

Open States Project

James and contributors have been knocking out the states, bringing us ever closer to 50 + DC. Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, Arkansas and Nevada have all graduated from experimental status based on several months of stability. North Dakota and South Carolina were also recently added to the API.

James has been prepping the Boston Sunlight office, new home of the Open States Project. He just hired a new developer and has secured office space. I patiently await an invitation to the opening party.

Congress for Android

Eric released a major update to the Congress App for Android that includes a visual redesign and information on what’s coming up in the next couple of days on the floor of Congress. This is a really great release and Eric did a lot of great work on the new redesign. He’s got many plans for new features that will be included over the next year, so stayed tuned!

The section in which I post Chris' update verbatim

Chris wishes that there was a more eloquent and loquacious manner in which she could describe her continued work in the mobile game app and the 180 Project. Alas, these projects defy description as the day-to-day minutia of design eventually amounts to: move this there, rinse repeat. However, Chris is pleased to report that the completion of the 180 Project is in her sights, barring any timeline disrupting events. She is coding, thus all is well.

Team Sysadmin

Tim has been involved in the long and arduous process of upgrading our office network. As it currently stands, the new fiber connection is a frustrating 15 feet from the office. Tim can see it from the ceiling tiles above our server room, but it is caught up in insurance, contractor and building management turmoil. To ease his mind, he’s been configuring our new Juniper Junos EX-series switches. It’ll be like a cute little ISP here in Sunlight’s office!

Team C-Level Executive

Tom is freshly back from the TAI Bridging Session and News Foo. Aside from that he’s been working on filling our open positions and some end-of-year planning stuff.


  • Expanding on the Sunlight Labs Olympics, we’ll be participating in the Sunlight Foundation Olympics early next week. Results will be posted shortly thereafter!
  • We now have 40 instances running on Amazon EC2. I’m sure we know what’s on each of those boxes, right?
  • Drew has been lending a hand to reporting to keep their projects running while we search for someone to fill the open position.
  • Dan and Capitol Words. Soon. Promise.
  • Eric and Andrew begun a project on gathering the data to connect bills and laws to the regulatory process. This effort should yield lots of bulk data over the next month or two for the legal and legislative communities to use.
  • Kaitlin has updated the video endpoint in the Real Time Congress API to support some upcoming changes to our Roku apps.
  • Upwardly Mobile is coming together nicely. There will be lots of great things to show early in January.
  • Renaissance man Luigi Montanez authored How can software engineers help make government better? in the latest issue of the ACM’s XRDS (Crossroads) magazine.
  • The hottest Labs holiday gift this season is Well Dressed’s El Gordo burrito.

When working with raw meat for your holiday meals, remember: though Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants, bleach is better.

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Labs Update: November 2011


With a regularity typically seen only in cron jobs, the monthly Labs Update is coming at cha! As you read this post and plan your Thanksgiving dinner, listen to Thanksgiving Theme by holiday season favorite, Vince Guaraldi.

Halloween Open House

If you didn't make it out to our Halloween Open House, then you missed out, my friend! Between the dry ice, Chocolate City Beer, taquitos, halloween costumes, photo booth and demonstrations of a colloidal suspension, we actually got a few chances to talk about the work we do here!

The best part, though, was Eric's Kinect and Processing powered rendition of Vigo the Carpathian. You can find the source code on GitHub.

Goodbye and Hello

We recently bid fond farewell to our reporting team embed, Aaron, who has taken a job with the Huffington Post. His position is still open, if you are interested in applying.

Joining us in the Labs is Lee Drutman. He will be working as our data visualization fellow, exploring interesting uses of the data with which we work.

Six Degrees of Corporations

Ever had to identify a unique corporation in a large government data set? How about corporate subsidiaries? You know that it can be almost impossible, but our new project, Six Degrees, shows you just how actually impossible it can be. The project looks at DUNS numbers used in federal spending data and finds that inaccuracies in reporting, among other issues, make the identifiers virtually useless.

Kaitlin and Drew created Six Degrees from their work on Subsidyscope. My description isn't doing the project any justice so go check it out for yourself!

Capitol Words

Soooooo close! A few weeks ago we gave an internal preview of Capitol Words to the rest of the Sunlight staff. The feedback was so good that we felt it had to be incorporated before the official launch. Caitlin and Dan have been working hard on the new features and should be finished within the next week or two with a launch soon after that.

Upwardly Mobile

Formerly named Moving Up, Upwardly Mobile is the second in our series of Knight Foundation funded mobile applications. Having a tough time making ends meet? Upwardly Mobile helps you find other ares of the country where someone in your occupation can make a better living. We're pulling in a number of government data sets that will be fully explained as we near launch. Caitlin is just wrapping up Sunlight's first responsive design for the project and it is looking amazing. I'll be templateing and making it all work over the next few weeks. Look for a blog post later this month about the progress!

Influence Explorer

With election season upon us, the Influence Explorer team has been working on tools for tracking candidates and contributions. We've often pointed out the problems with less-than-timely release of data, especially campaign finance data. The issue is painfully evident during elections when clean data can be many months behind. You go into the voting booth without knowing what has happened in the previous weeks or months of the campaigns. We're limited by the FEC release schedule, but there is a plan in place to get some information to you as soon as we can. Ethan should have more details for you soon.

In addition to these new features, Alison has added a new data set, Lobbyist Bundled Contributions, and has refreshed EPA and federal campaign finance data.

We're embarking on a complete refresh of the Sunlight Foundation brand! Along with a new logo and updated visual design, we are rethinking the organization of our content. The new will be organized around the work we do and not our internal team structures. We'll be pulling in some of our department specific sites like labs and reporting back under the Sunlight Foundation umbrella.

Ali recently blogged about the design process and gave a sneak preview of our new logo. Meanwhile, I've been whining about having to setup WordPress and have been trying to find ways to weasel out of it. We'll be blogging more about the progress and hope to launch late 2011 or early 2012.

Sunlight Live and Datajam

October saw the first Sunlight Live produced on the new Datajam platform. The card system has been completely rewritten in both the front-end and the admin. While we've so far reused the existing 3rd party widgets, Dan and Luigi are continuing to implement our own versions that will make Sunlight Live even better than it currently is.

Team Executive Leadership

Tom has been spending a lot of time on grant reporting, proposal documents and making sure things are in motion for staffing back up in DC and Boston. He also briefly embarrassed himself by attempting to close some tickets on Capitol Words (this was a mostly terrible idea). And he spent some time out in SF for the Code for America Summit, which was both fun and inspiring.


  • Chris has been busy working on design for the 180° Project.
  • Daniel's been plugging away at an analytics dashboard that will be used to provide an at-a-glance overview of various types of traffic and impact analytics.
  • Minor updates were released for our native mobile apps, Congress for Android and Real Time Congress for iOS.
  • Tim now has graphs of everything our servers are doing. He has also been shutting down old and unused servers, much to our checkbook's delight.
  • Kaitlin attended Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw, Poland.

Official Sunlight Labs Thanksgiving side dish: Oyster stuffing.

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Labs Update: October 2011


We've had the first hint of fall here in DC with Metro switching from AC to heat. Grab some apple cider and a baked good while you read this brisk update from Sunlight Labs.

Eric Mill, International Man of Transparency

Fundacion Ciudadano Inteligente logozs

For the last two weeks, Eric has been in Santiago, Chile, working in the offices of the Fundacion Ciudadano Inteligente. There, he's been chipping in on an API over Chilean parliamentary data, imparting what knowledge of JavaScript and Android he can and learning about the open government scene in Chile.

Influence Explorer

Yet again, new data sets have been added to Influence Explorer and Transparency Data. This past week was the official launch of EPA violations, public comments on federal regulations and corporate employees that sit on federal advisory committees. The BP profile page is a great example of each of these new data sets. Andrew has also spent some time working on infrastructure improvements to allow us to keep our copy of the data up to date.

Real Time Congress

Before his international travel, Eric worked on adding Senate Floor information to both the Real Time Congress API and to the Congress app for Android and continued development on an upcoming website around alerts of government data. Being the spontaneous person that he is, he made a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Senate Office of Public Records to fetch documents relating to Senate Political Fund Designees, which he'll digitize and release as a CSV after returning from Chile.

The Open States Project

Open States logo

The Open States team has continued to expand their coverage with the addition of Nebraska and Iowa. The team is also working to add more special sessions and several features utilizing the actual text of legislation. James will soon be heading up north to Boston so be on the lookout in the coming months for exciting Sunlight North news.

Sunlight Live / Datajam

Luigi has continued to plug away at Datajam, a new platform to power Sunlight Live. In addition to the core platform, Dan has been working on a modular comment and discussion system for events. If you've been hankering to run your own real-time, data-driven events, you won't have to wait much longer. Datajam will be well-documented and open-sourced for everyone to use by the end of the year.


Clearspending 2011 has launched! In addition to the launch, Kaitlin and Drew have been working on a corporate identifier project. The site will feature a visualization of the impracticality of continuing to use DUNS numbers as the de facto standard for identifying corporations. It is based on a 2D JavaScript port of the Traer processing library and the "nice branching" processing sketch by Natasha Harper and Katie Adee. Kaitlin is currently working on two presentations for the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management conference (super wonky) and one for Open Government Data Camp in Warsaw (super European).


K2, the codename for our second Knight Foundation mobile app, is moving along nicely. The final name and logo are days away from approval, data has been finalized and scraped, and design is moving from comps to build out. Ryan, Caitlin, and I are quite excited about this app and hope to have something good to show you for next month's Labs Update.

Super Committee logo

The big news on the Foundation front is that we are embarking on a rebranding, redesign, and content reorganization of the main web site. Ali is getting to work on comps and mood boards and I'll be looking at a reorganization of our blog content. In addition to the redesign, we've been pushing out new campaign pages. See our Super Committee page to find out what we've been working on to bring transparency to the committee.

Team Design

Now back to full staff, Team Design has been swamped with new work. Chris has been knocking out presentations for Sunlight speaking engagements and worked on design for a few new projects. Caitlin has been working on Capitol Words (I promise, it's coming soon!) and K2. Ali has been working on the design for Kaitlin and Drew's corporate identifier site, a new visualization for federal budget projections over time, updates to Influence Explorer, the redesign for Sunlight Foundation and a microsite for the Reporting Group for research they're doing on financial databases.

Team Management

Tom has been doing the usual odds and ends, wrapping up some grant proposals and writing some reports for grants we've been working on. It's all very glamorous! Somewhat less boringly, he's also getting ready to head to the Code for America Summit next week. The big news, however, was the launch of Superfastmatch, a joint project with Media Standards Trust. Superfastmatch is an open source tool for quickly finding overlapping text between documents in a huge corpora. We've got some great stuff planned for Superfastmatch so stay tuned.

Team Sysadmin

Between searching for an entrepreneur to marry and making scallion oil pancakes, Tim has been working to improve our core infrastructure. In the office Tim has been buying new hardware to replace the switches we've had since we were a very small organization. Once the new hardware is installed and the chains of wireless routers are removed, we hope to have dead-zone free wireless access throughout the office. We now have data-filled Munin graphs for all of our servers. Tim also went to a Varnish meet-up at the SURGE conference.


  • Aaron has been helping our reporting group make improvements to their site that will allow users to keep up with electronic FEC filings, particularly those from presidential candidates and members of the Super Committee.
  • Our mobile game, Decipher DC, is on hold for the moment as Daniel works on an analytics and metrics dashboard.
  • I'm headed to sunny Miami, FL tomorrow for PyCodeConf. Send me a message if you are going so we can meet up!
  • The Labs is holding an open house later this month, so keep an eye on the blog here for information. We'll post invites once we figure out the maximum number of lasers and dry ice we can buy.
  • Goodbye, 1800 Cafe! You've fed us well with delicious scrapple, egg and cheese sandwiches since we've been here in Dupont Circle.

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