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After lunch, we went around in small groups to stations where folks each had 7 minutes to demo their sites. Some very cool stuff is going on, including (and, damn, I lost my notes so I apologize for what I’m forgetting):

Metavid takes C-SPAN feeds of public domain video of our government in action, strips out the copyrighted stuff, and makes it all searchable by indexing the close captioning provided by our government. Once you’ve found the clip you want, they give you the code to embed it in your site. Way cool.

Front Porch Forum is a Vermont-based service that uses email listservs and the Web to let geographical neighbors talk to one another. It’s a terrific and simple idea that happens to have been executed so well that in one case, 90% of homes have signed on. They’ve found that the optimum size for a virtualized neighborhood is about 300 real homes.

Congresspedia is an open Wikipedia-style wiki with entries for every congressperson, every bill and every rule.

Can you guess what FedSpending has lots of data about? You’re right! It’s a project by OMB Watch, and is funded (as several of these projects are) by the Sunlight Foundation.

The Capitol News Connection feeds 230+ public radio stations with stories pertinent to their localities.

MorePerfect is a wiki where people can use the wisdom of the political crowds to craft language for bills, proposals, referenda, etc. Rather than aiming at “neutrality,” the way Wikipedia does, it aims at contributors being “constructive.” So, if you disagree with a bill, you’re asked not to reverse its meaning and insert stupid comments. Instead, create your own bill. They even have posted the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights as wikis, asking people to improve them.

The Gentilly Project has volunteers in New Orleans color coding houses on maps according to their state of repair. Part of the story is what they’ve learned about getting volunteers to do the work efficiently, which includes having a deadline, breaking a big project down into little steps, and being sure all the sub-projects are transparent to one another. The other part of the story are the results, which reveal that we have to make lots more progress, and that the progress is not as unevenly distributed as one might think.

The Campaigns Wikia is an ambitious attempt to gather information about significant campaigns around the world, using the Wikipedia format.

Lots and lots going on, building an infrastructure of facts and relationships that is direclty valuable, but, perhaps even more important, will be the source for mashups and visualizations we haven’t yet thought of. [Tags: ]

On second thought, just read Ethanz’s descriptions of the projects. Way better than mine.

One Response to “[sunberk] Cool democracy tools”

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