Technology Review says that "Some states -- including swing states -- are more vulnerable to glitches that could tip the election. But the lack of a paper backup means such errors can go undetected."
- The States with the Riskiest Voting Technology, By Mike Orcutt, Technology Review (October 31, 2012).
Next Tuesday's presidential election will likely be extremely close, magnifying the potential impact of vote-counting errors. So it could be problematic that several states rely on computerized voting machines that don't print out a paper record that can be verified by voters and recounted by election officials if necessary.
Spammers Using Shortened .gov URLs, by Ravi Mandalia, Parity News (20 October 2012).
Cyber-scammers have started using the 1.usa.gov links in their spam campaigns in a bid to fool gullible users into thinking that the links they see on a website or have received in their mail or newsletter are legitimate US Government website.
Spammers have achieved these shortened URLs through a loophole in the URL shortening service provided by bit.ly. USA.gov and Bit.ly have collaborated thus enabling anyone to shorten a .gov or .mil URL into a trustworthy 1.USA.gov URL.
The Government Printing Office (GPO) and the National Archives' Office of the Federal Register (OFR) have released a mobile Web application (app) on the daily public activities of President of the United States. Here is the announcement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2012 No. 12-40
GPO AND NATIONAL ARCHIVES RELEASE PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS APP
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and the National Archives' Office of the Federal Register (OFR) have released a mobile Web application (app) on the daily public activities of President of the United States. The app is part of both agencies efforts to support The White House digital strategy for the Federal Government by ensuring the American people have access to Government information on any device. The Presidential Documents app includes the President's:
* Executive orders
* Communications to Congress and Federal agencies
* Approved acts
* Nominations submitted to the Senate
* White House announcements
* White House press releases
The app has user-friendly search capabilities allowing users to access content about the President by searching by date, category, subject, or location, which includes a map feature. This is the first time GPO has enabled an app with a geolocation feature providing users with access to the most recent content near their location. The public can take advantage of the free mobile Web app on most major mobile device platforms. GPO and OFR also make available the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents on GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).
Link to app: http://m.gpo.gov/dcpd
"GPO continues to build upon its reputation as the digital information platform for the Federal Government with the development and release of the Presidential Documents app," said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. "GPO and OFR have enjoyed a successful partnership for more than 75 years to make Federal Government information available in print, online and now on mobile devices."
"OFR continues to push the envelope on public access to critical government information. Innovation is a key component to the NARA strategy and providing access via mobile apps is a great example of how OFR is embracing technology. I am very excited and proud of NARA's relationship with GPO on this communication achievement," said Archivist David Ferriero.
The Presidential Documents app is the third app released by GPO; other apps include the FY 2013 Budget app and the Mobile Member Guide, which provides users with official biographical information about Members of the 112th Congress. GPO has also supported the Library of Congress in creating an iPad app for the Congressional Record. The Presidential Documents app represents the first app for the OFR and the third app for the National Archives....
Eric Mill announced today on the openhouseproject mailing list that he and Josh Tauberer (of GovTrack.us) and Derek Willis have completed a milestone in their project to produce a public domain scraper and dataset from THOMAS.gov. Here is the text of his message with links:
I've been working for the last month or two with Josh Tauberer (of GovTrack.us http://govtrack.us/) and Derek Willis on a project to produce a public domain scraper and dataset from THOMAS.gov http://thomas.gov/, the official source for legislative information for the US Congress.
It's a reasonably well documented set of Python scripts, which you can find here: https://github.com/unitedstates/congress
We just hit a great milestone - it gets everything important that THOMAS has on bills, back to the year THOMAS starts (1973). We've published and documented https://github.com/unitedstates/congress/wiki all of this data in bulk, and I've worked it into Sunlight's pipeline, so that searches for bills in Scout https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/search/federal_bills/freedom%20of%2... use data collected directly from this effort.
The data and code are all hosted on Github on a "unitedstates https://github.com/unitedstates/" organization, which is right now co-owned by me, Josh, and Derek - the intent is to have this all exist in a common space. To the extent that the code needs a license at all, I'm using a public domain "unlicense https://github.com/unitedstates/congress/blob/master/LICENSE" that should at least be sufficient for the US (other suggestions welcome).
There's other great stuff in this organization, too - Josh made an amazing donation of his legislator dataset https://github.com/unitedstates/congress-legislators, and converted it to YAML for easy reuse. I've worked that dataset into Sunlight's products already as well. I've also moved my legal citation extractor https://github.com/unitedstates/citation into this organization -- and my colleague Thom Neale has an in-progress parser for the US Code https://github.com/unitedstates/uscode, to convert it from binary typesetting codes into JSON.
Github's organization structure actually makes possible a very neat commons. I'm hoping this model proves useful, both for us and for the public.
-- Developer | sunlightfoundation.com
Steven Aftergood reviews a new National Archives portal for declassified information:
- New Declassification Portal at the National Archives, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (October 4th, 2012).
The National Archives has set up a new online portal that provides an overview of declassification activity in and around the Arvhices, with input from the National Declassification Center, the Public Interest Declassification Board, the Presidential Libraries, and the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP).
The new section on ISCAP declassification decisions is of particular interest, since it provides links to the documents that have been newly declassified at the direction of the ISCAP, which receives appeals from the public for release of documents that agencies have declined to declassify.
- NARA and Declassification, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has two new ("beta") tools for finding and visualizing statistical data:
The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the large social-sciences data archive at the University of Michigan, is hosting a series of webcasts on October 1 through 3 that feature election data held in ICPSR's archives. The webcasts will show how to use them for analysis and teaching.
- Welcome to the 2012 ICPSR Data Fair!, ICPSR.
The event is designed for the social sciences data community at large including researchers, librarians, teaching faculty, students, and policymakers from around the world who are interested in the use of social science data.
The first day will provide an orientation to ICPSR's services, including a tutorial on navigating our newly redesigned Web site. Other topics will include the American National Election Studies, minority voting behavior, and using election data in classroom instruction.
The event is open to everyone, and will be conducted using GoToWebinar technology; you can watch each presentation from your computer without the need to download any software.
A schedule of sessions is available, including links to the sessions themselves.
Here are some really useful tools and projects that make data more useful and understandable. They are winners of the Knight Foundation "data challenge."
"The winning projects go well beyond collecting data to unlocking its value in simple and powerful ways, so journalists can analyze numbers and trends, and communities can make decisions on issues important to them."
- Six ventures bring data to the public as winners of Knight News Challenge, Press Release, The Knight Foundation (Sep 20, 2012).
The six winners are:
- Safecast: Creating a community of citizen and professional scientists to measure and share data on air quality in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities. The air quality effort is inspired by Safecast's success in providing radiation data following Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster.
- LocalData: Providing a set of tools that communities can use to collect data on paper or via a smartphone app, then export or visualize the data via an easy-to-use dashboard. The city of Detroit has used the tools, created by Code for America fellows, to track urban blight.
- Open Elections: Creating the first freely available, comprehensive source of U.S. election results, allowing journalists and researchers to analyze trends that account for campaign spending, demographic changes, legislative track records and more. Senior developers from The Washington Post and The New York Times lead the project.
- New Tools for OpenStreetMap: Launching tools that make it easier for communities to contribute to OpenStreetMap, the community-mapping project used by millions via foursquare and Wikimedia and becoming a leading source for open, street-level data. DevelopmentSeed will create the tools.
- Pop Up Archive: Taking multimedia content - including audio, pictures and more - from the shelf to the Web, so that it can be searchable, reusable and shareable. Founded by University of California grad students and SoundCloud Fellows, the project beta tested by helping archive the collection of the independent, Peabody-winning production team the Kitchen Sisters.
- Census.IRE.org: Providing journalists and the public with a simpler way to access Census data, so they can spend less time managing the information and more time analyzing it and finding trends. The project is led by a senior developer from the Chicago Tribune in partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).
Big Hat Tip to Kevin Taglang!
The annual meeting of the Association of Public Data Users was held recently in Washington and it produced interesting discussions and insights into the current state of and future directions for official statistics. Here are links to presentations from the conference and an excellent overview of the conference by Peggy Garvin.
- Association of Public Data Users 2012 Annual Conference, The Future of the Federal Statistical System in an Era of Open Government Data, Agenda and papers. (September 12-13, 2012).
- APDU 2012 Conference Explores the Future of Federal Survey Data, by Peggy Garvin, InfoToday (September 20, 2012).