Datamob Updated, Mr. President

With President Obama firing off memos and executive orders on open government, FOIA obedience and Executive Branch ethics, now feels like a good time to make sure Datamob is up to date. Notable additions:

  • Capitol Words visualizes the most frequently used words in the Congressional Record and does so in more useful ways than those Wordle word clouds we see all too often. They have a blessedly simple API as well.
  • has made the full text of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (House Stimulus Bill) searchable with comments for each page enabled. Actual dollar appropriations from the bill have been parsed out by volunteers and entered into a Google spreadsheet. Their tagline says it all: “$850 Billion, 941 pages, and counting… somebody needs to read it!”
  • The Legislative Lookup API from Mobile Commons is a database that matches latitude and longtitude with the U.S. congressional and state legislators for that location. Could be put to good use in your pet mapping application. They even made it available as a standalone Rails app.
  • Represent from The New York Times is the kind of application you could use the Mobile Commons Legislative Lookup API for. It’s a nice way for New Yorkers to find their elected representatives and see what they’re up to.
  • The New York Times Congress API is what actually powers Represent (Represent!). The great thing about it is that it was built to work with other publicly available data sources, so you can use it with the seven-character code used to identify members of Congress in the official Biographical Directory, or the numeric ID assigned by GovTrack to individual member responses.
  • DC Bikes is another example of a good local application, mapping bike routes, bike thefts and bike-related Craiglist postings for Washington, D.C. bikers. It uses the same Mapnik toolkit EveryBlock uses to get their nice maps. Built by Development Seed for the D.C. Data Catalog‘s Apps for Democracy competition.
  • also came out of Apps for Democracy. Enter a Washington, D.C. address and receive information tailored to that location and organized into categories like Errands, Emergencies, Recently Reported Crimes, People, Transportation and “Did You Know?” I would love to see a New York version.

You can keep up with all the action in this space on the Open Government, PoliParse and Sunlight Labs Google Groups.




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