What’s it all about?

virtualid.png

Spurred by Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, politics has gone high-tech. Politician’s now have home pages, blogs, and even myspace.com pages. There’s also a plethora of information about them– campaign funding data, voting records, contracts awarded, etc., not to mention the colorful commentary found in the blogosphere.

The problem is that all this data is scattered across the internet. The various public databases don’t talk to each other, and there is no directory of politicos. There is Google, of course, but to compile a politician’s comprehensive virtual identity requires a great amount of sifting and sorting of Google results.

Connecting the Dots

opencampaigns.com is about software tools to help with this problem. How do we connect these databases of related information to help the public ‘connect the political dots’? How do we leverage ‘Web 2.0’ technologies so that the community, together, can build a directory of politicians and other politicos, instead of Googling alone?

In this blog, I will discuss various efforts in this arena, including some of my own projects. My projects include:

politicos.us — Under construction, this site combines campaign funding data with user-generated data about California politicos. It is one of the first efforts at allowing users to not only ‘consume’ political data, but add to it, with the goal being to create a directory of ‘comprehensive virtual identities’ as in the picture above.

sfpoliticos — This site is a directory of San Francisco politicos, including politicians, watchdogs, and journalists. Like politicos.us, anyone can add information.

whosfundingwhom.org — Developed by myself and USF students, this software helps users visualize the campaign funding and contracts data of the city of San Francisco.

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