May 1, 2006

insight machine: the sunlight foundation

The Sunlight Foundation officially launched last week.

The Sunlight Foundation was founded in January 2006 with the goal of using the revolutionary power of the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing, and thus help reduce corruption, ensure greater transparency and accountability by government, and foster public trust in the vital institutions of democracy. We are unique in that technology and the power of the Internet are at the core of every one of our efforts.

They are blogging. For example, I like Ellen Miller's post on Information Mashing and the Accountability Matrix:

Information Mashing. Don't you just love that term? It's one of the major goals of Sunlight and while we've been working on it for the past couple of months we have a ways to go before it happens in any substantial way. Our goal is simple: integrate in a user-friendly way individual data sets (like campaign contributions, lobbyists and government contracts) that makes the whole larger than the sum of its parts.

We'd like to create something we've dubbed an "Accountability Matrix." A website where, with one click you can look up a major donor and see not just their campaign contributions, but also their lobbying expenditures, the names of members who've flown on their private jet, the names of former congressional staffers they've hired, and so on.

Exactly: mashup multiple data sources to provide a single comprehensive view, with traceability back to the original sources of the data. Editorial integrity, non-partisan analysis, and reliability/reputation of sources will be critical success factors for Sunlight, but this looks like a very promising step toward the insight machine for US government and politics.

Posted by Gene at May 1, 2006 11:36 AM