The Sunlight Foundation recently named Liz Barry and her group at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) as OpenGov Champions. Sunlight highlights these champions for their work and ingenuity in furthering govt transparency.
Ms Barry and the PLOTS team is perhaps best known for using kites and helium balloons to map the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, the only high resolution images out in the media at the onset of the catastrophe. PLOTS uses "mapping and other scientific DIY methods to empower local residents and activists to issue their own data sets to better engage with their local governments in environmental and other issues in their communities."
Be sure to check out their many maps available in the PLOTS open data archive. And for all of you DIY scientists, you can chip in to the PLOTS DIY spectrometry kit kickstarter campaign and help them build a spectrum-sharing wiki.
ProPublica investigation shakes loose TV station public inspection files listing local political programmingSubmitted by jrjacobs on Tue, 2012-09-11 20:17.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a rule that says that TV stations must keep a list of political ad buys and make it available on request by the public. However, until recently, stations weren't required to post this data on the Internet, and so the only way to get the records was to physically travel to the station in person.
However, thanks to ProPublica's Free the Files project -- and especially their Free the Files volunteers!! -- this critical issue has been spotlighted and this summer the FCC passed a rule requiring the stations in the nation's top markets to upload the files to the FCC's website https://stations.fcc.gov/.
The system is far from perfect and has a lot of limitations -- eg. there's not a great search! -- but it's a good start.
Rachel Maddow highlighted this issue of transparency in political advertising on a recent show:
The U.S. Census Bureau is going through the final integration tests for the next TIGERweb release. TIGERweb v2.0 (beta) will consist of a new set of map services using American Community Survey (ACS) 2011 source data, an upgraded viewer application based on comments received from our users, and a relocation of our Census 2010 viewer to TIGERweb2010. We hope to release this new version the week of September 17, 2012. Expect more information about this release later this week.
If you have any questions or comments about TIGERweb, you may contact us by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the LA Times, Matrix producer Joel Silver has just purchased the WPA-era post office building in Venice, CA. The Venice PO is one of over 800 post office buildings on the National Register.
I'm quite verklempt about what's happening to the USPS. Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress "To establish Post Offices and post Roads." As Congressman Dennis Kucinich said in the first DemocracyNow segment below, "Universality is the bedrock of a democracy." For more information and to find out how you can help save the US Postal Service, go to SaveThePostOffice.com.
A friend just alerted me to the existence of the Sunlight Academy, "a collection of interactive tutorials for journalists, activists, researchers and students to learn about tools by the Sunlight Foundation and others to unlock government data." They've got training modules for tracking govt, unlocking data, lobbying, data analysis, and research tools. Very nicely done! I wish there was a site training.fdlp.gov for the Federal Depository Library Program ;-)
Whether you are an investigative journalist trying to get insight on a complex data set, an activist uncovering the hidden influence behind your issue, or a congressional staffer in need of mastering legislative data, Sunlight Academy guides you through how to make our tools work for you. Let’s get started!
HT to my friend Sue Lyons for alerting me to the Sunlight site and suggesting it as a model for the FDLP to follow!
Robert Groves, Census Bureau Director, resigned August 11, 2012 to become Provost at Georgetown University. We wish Director Groves well! Tom Mesenbourg, the new acting Director, writes that "The Times, They Are a-Changin’". I really enjoyed Director Groves' openness and tell-it-like-it-is communication style -- whether it was explaining why some census surveys are mandatory or ripping into GOP members of the US House Appropriations Committee for attempting to eliminate the ACS. Let's hope that Acting Director Mesenbourg will continue to communicate openly with the public in explaining the inner workings of the US Census Bureau and it's important work. That is all.
We face a challenging future. Resources will be constrained and possibly reduced. Getting businesses, institutions, and households to participate in surveys and censuses will become more difficult. Policy makers, public and private decision makers, and the general public demands for relevant, timely information will grow, and users will expect information to be easily accessible and to be available for small geographic areas and small population groups.
To respond to this future we must change. We need to change the way we collect, compile, and produce statistics. We must offer multiple response options that facilitate reporting and reduce reporting burden. We must be more attentive and responsive to data providers concerns. And finally we must find ways to integrate Census Bureau data sets with public and private data sets to develop new low cost products. I am excited about the initiatives we currently have underway that promise to transform our methods, processes, and products and you will hear more about them in future blogs.
I have been at the Census Bureau for almost 40 years, but I am more convinced than ever that we need to continue to innovate. Our employees have demonstrated that they can be engines of innovation and over the past several years, they have submitted hundreds of great ideas that save money and improve products and processes. We also need to be attuned to the concerns of our data providers. In January 2013, we will roll out an Internet reporting option for the American Community Survey that will make reporting easier for sampled households.
We also need to make our statistics more accessible, both for every day users and those who are just discovering them. On July 26, we released our first-ever Application Programming Interface (API), allowing developers to create apps using 2010 Census and American Community Survey information. We are already seeing developers create some great apps from the API.
During the first week of August, we followed up the release of the API with our first-ever mobile app, America’s Economy. This app provides users with instant access to 16 key economic indicators from not only the Census Bureau but also the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The economist in me finds this app a cool new tool, and I encourage all of you to check it out and tell us how we can make it even more useful.
Hot off the presses, the August 2012 Library of Congress Digital Preservation Newsletter is now available. In this issue:
- Summary of DigitalPreservation 2012
- Rescuing the Tangible from the Intangible
- From AIP to Zettabyte: Comparing Glossaries
- One Family's Digital Archiving Project
- Fighting the Battle for Fleeting Attention
- Profile of William Kilbride
- Training Digital Curators
- Upcoming Events (Designing Storage Architectures, NDIIPP at Book Festival and others)
- Meetings Roundup (Open Repositories, Preserving Online Science, Data Intensive Research)
- Resources (Digital Disaster Planning, Digital Preservation in a Box, and others)
Y'all should attend. The speaker is Abbie Grotke, who was one of our group of guest bloggers from the End of Term Archive last month. Register early. Or have a viewing party so you can share one Webinar connection with multiple people. But do it. You won't regret it!
FEDLINK invites you to the next Library of Congress Area Studies Webinar Series: "Web Archiving at the Library of Congress and Around the World," to be held on Thursday, August 30, 2012, 2:00-3:00pm ET.
Since 2000, the Library of Congress has been archiving born-digital web content documenting a variety of events and themes. The Webinar will provide an overview of the Library's web archiving program and a look at international work and collaborative efforts by libraries, archives, and other organizations.
The speaker is Abbie Grotke, the Web Archiving Team Lead in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress. She came to the Library in 1997 to work on American Memory digitization projects. Since 2002 she has been involved in web archiving and the digital preservation program at the Library of Congress.
This program is FREE however there is a maximum capacity so registration is required.
The webinar will be recorded and available for later viewing if you are unable to participate.
Please register by Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GNBSWYM.
If you experience problems with the registration link - please email your name/email/library name to email@example.com and we will get you manually registered for the webinar.
For more information or to request ADA accommodations, please contact Dr. Anchi Hoh, Program Management Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a heads-up and a hat tip: Juri Statford from UC Davis has just published an Index to Reports Published in the Appendices to the Journals of the California Legislature 1905-1970. Congratulations Juri. This is a significant piece of work and will help librarians and the public get better access to historic California reports.
The California Legislature published reports in the Appendices to the Journals from 1849 to 1970. The Appendices include reports produced by California executive agencies as well as the California Legislature. In a few instances, the reports include work by the United States federal government or the University of California.
This index provides references to over eighteen hundred reports published in the Appendices between 1905-1970. The reports cover a number of subjects including agriculture, state budget, banking, insurance, labor, education, social welfare, taxation, and water and natural resources.
Bibliographic access to earlier reports from 1849 to 1904 is provided by the Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States, California 1849-1905 by Adelaide R. Hasse. (editor's note: the early CA and other state indexes are available in Hathitust)
Stratford, Juri. (2012). Index to Reports Published in the Appendices to the Journals of the California Legislature 1905-1970 University Library, University of California, Davis.
[posted with permission from Juri]