Highlighted Site of the Week – Data.gov - State and Federal Communications

March 4, 2011  •  

Highlighted Site of the Week – Data.gov

Mashups have become all the rage on blogs and websites. A mashup is the craft of taking existing material (data, text, art), mixing it up, and turning it into a new derivative work. Some can be just fun, like taking two songs that were recorded decades apart and making a new song out of it. Some can be helpful, like combining information from weather websites, adding the power of Google Maps, and a dash of poignant Twitter conversations, and voilà – you have great detailed coverage of a storm during an emergency.

Some mashups can be very powerful. Today’s Highlighted Site of the Week is Data.gov. With its May 2009 release of government data sets by Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Data.gov allowed very clever people to put out mashups that could change our lives. Data.gov has two goals – “democratizing public sector data and driving innovation.”

The amount of information is staggering: elections, federal government finances and employment, state and local government finances and employment, banking, demographics, and much more. On the site, the data sets can be searched by category, by government agency, or both.

Here is where the artistry comes into play. Groups and individuals have mashed the data sets to come up with something quite revealing. One group, DataMasher.org, allows visitors to the site to combine data from Data.gov. Some of the results are interactive maps that show federal spending per U.S. Representative, total per capita contributions to political candidates, and federal spending per political contribution by state.

Another example is Tetoncode.com, which put together an API that shows federal contracts per state. And there is so much useful information being revealed about health care, FDA inspections, unemployment statistics, job prospects, and housing foreclosures.

I think we can expect to see mashups on blogs and across social media platforms as a standard in the near future. Who knows – they could become game changers in campaigns and elections.

What mashup would you like to create?

Images courtesy of Data.gov and Datamasher.org.

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