“The Sunlight Foundation on Tuesday released a downloadable Google Earth layer that plots what it says are some 1,500 earmarks attached to a proposed U.S. House of Representatives defense spending bill. The Washington-based group describes its mission as promoting political transparency through use of Internet technologies.”
I have to think that one of the real take-aways from the mash-up phenomenon is this kind of data visualization. In the initial wave of web applications, we provided windows into data — but generally geared around specific tasks or workflow. Lots of basic CRUD “enter an order”, “lookup my profile” type stuff.
Now we’re starting to see APIs and services that let us plunge into all that interesting data we’re collecting, and the low-hanging fruit seems to be aggregation and visualization. Taking things like public databases and mapping them, or integrating sales data with a product image catalog. The plus side in government certainly seems to be that we’re seeing an increasing number of mash-ups that provide increased transparency into government operations and spending by displaying simple visualization extracted out of the reams of official data. Maybe we’re moving towards Governmental-Accountability 2.0?