Freebase Hack Day – Open Government session by Greg Elin

November 11, 2008

Greg Elin, representing the Sunlight Foundation gave a talk at the recent Freebase Hack Day on “Government data sources, transparency opportunities, data catalogs and the Sunlight Foundation”.

Personally I think that Freebase would be an great platform for working on open government projects. Greg seemed very positive about Freebase too. Sunlight’s database IDs for US politicians are currently being loaded into Freebase as I type, so hopefully we’ll be able to make some nice political demos soon.

Greg’s talk was a very informative summary of who’s who in open data in the US, here are my raw notes:

The Sunlight Foundation give away ~$3m a year to fund tech projects in open government. They have a good summary of the government data out there.

eGovernment is generally supported in US, improvements rolling along, 1st generation IT initiatives, transparency is a given now, (especially thanks to the financial crisis) – but government big and slow and needs to be encouraged in the right direction, hence the Open Government Data Principles

Every big org’s website should have a “data catalog” page which is like an “about” page.
theinfo.org by Aaron Swartz – for people with large datasets (lots of government stuff) political parsers – critical mass of group of people parsing political data, NY times, FEC,  – code & techniques for parsing

watchdog.net data about representatives, cool visualizations + data feeds, big data dumps

public.resource.org – lots of bulk data

govtrack.us – xml dumps, scraps GEO, THOMAS –> XML

programmable web.com/government – tracking new government apis and mashups

everyblock.com – super local what’s new feeds

mysociety.org – high impact UK org, tracks foi requests, fixmystreet.com – tracks repsones very well