[okfn-discuss] Fwd: News from CRP: OpenSecrets.org goes OpenData

Mr. Puneet Kishor punkish at eidesis.org
Fri Apr 24 13:55:25 UTC 2009

On Apr 24, 2009, at 8:09 AM, Rufus Pollock wrote:

> Should we write to them gently pointing out that this isn't really
> "open data" and asking them to remove the NC restriction in favour of
> e.g. Share-Alike. It seems rather disappointing to have a dataset like
> this with NC restrictions on it ...

Why even SA?

One thing we all should do, and encourage others to do, is to examine  
*why* we want to impose a license, any license. What good would a  
license on my data do to me? What would a license take away? These are  
important questions, instead of blindly applying a license du jour.

If no good purpose is going to be served with SA, why put that  
restriction? If all CRP wants is attribution then perhaps a BY license  
would be good enough.


> Rufus
> 2009/4/24 Jonathan Gray <jonathan.gray at okfn.org>:
>> Just in case people haven't already seen this...
>> (Its a shame data has NC restrictions!)
>> J.
>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> OpenSecrets.org Goes OpenData
>>  Award-winning website from the Center for Responsive Politics now
>> provides 20 years of downloadable money-in-politics data -- for free
>> MEDIA CONTACT: Massie Ritsch
>> Communications Director
>> Center for Responsive Politics
>> Direct: (202) 354-0111
>> E-mail: press at crp.org
>> WASHINGTON (April 13, 2009) -- Politicians, prepare yourselves.
>> Lobbyists, look out. Today the nonpartisan Center for Responsive
>> Politics is putting 200 million data records from the watchdog  
>> group's
>> archive directly into the hands of citizens, activists, journalists
>> and anyone else interested in following the money in U.S. politics.
>> For the first time in CRP's 26-year history, the nonprofit research
>> group's most popular data archives are fully and freely downloadable
>> for non-commercial purposes from the Center's website,  
>> OpenSecrets.org
>> -- a four-time Webby winner for best politics site online.
>> OpenSecrets.org will remain the go-to independent source for most
>> users interested in tracking money's political influence and, in  
>> fact,
>> the site has some new general-interest features as of today. (More on
>> those below.)
>> With today's announcement, skilled data-divers can explore the
>> information that's already aggregated on OpenSecrets.org to its full
>> depth. Web developers and database experts can grab federal
>> money-in-politics data that CRP's researchers have standardized and
>> coded, and mash it up with other data sets. Timelines, charts, maps,
>> other graphics and mobile applications are just some of the projects
>> that could result -- all powered by CRP's unparalleled data.
>> "Putting our data into more hands will put more eyes on Washington
>> and, we hope, engage more Americans in their government," CRP
>> Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said. "We hope that more people
>> counting cash will lead to more people making change."
>> The OpenSecrets OpenData initiative is being generously underwritten
>> by a three-year $1.2 million grant from Sunlight Foundation, which
>> supports uses of the Internet to promote greater transparency of
>> government and the interplay in Washington between money and public
>> policy.
>> "Building on its outstanding and long-earned reputation for accuracy
>> and integrity, CRP is giving the public the keys to take government
>> transparency to the next level," said Ellen Miller, Sunlight
>> Foundation's executive director and co-founder. "This will have a
>> long-term impact, undoubtedly inspiring many effective and creative
>> uses of the data by civic hackers, journalists and bloggers."
>> Center's Researchers Clean Up, Categorize Government Data
>> The following data sets, along with a user guide, resource tables and
>> other documentation, are now available in CSV format (comma-separated
>> values, for easy importing) through OpenSecrets.org's Action Center  
>> at
>> http://www.opensecrets.org/action/data.php:
>> CAMPAIGN FINANCE: 195 million records dating to the 1989-1990  
>> election
>> cycle, tracking campaign fundraising and spending by candidates for
>> federal office, as well as political parties and political action
>> committees. CRP's researchers add value to Federal Election  
>> Commission
>> data by cleaning up and categorizing contribution records. This  
>> allows
>> for easier totaling by industry and company or organization, to
>> measure special-interest influence.
>> LOBBYING: 3.5 million records on federal lobbyists, their clients,
>> their fees and the issues they reported working on, dating to 1998.
>> Industry codes have been applied to this data, as well.
>>  PERSONAL FINANCES: Reports from members of Congress and the  
>> executive
>> branch that detail their personal assets, liabilities and  
>> transactions
>> in 2004 through 2007. The reports covering 2008 will become available
>> to the public in June, and the data will be available for download
>> once CRP has keyed those reports.
>> 527 ORGANIZATIONS: Electronically filed financial records beginning  
>> in
>> the 2004 election cycle for the shadowy issue-advocacy groups known  
>> as
>> 527s, which can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations,  
>> labor
>> unions and individuals.
>> To download bulk data from OpenSecrets.org, users must register on  
>> the
>> site and agree to prominently credit the Center for Responsive
>> Politics, along with other terms of service. CRP is making its data
>> available through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share
>> Alike license, which allows users to remix, tweak, build upon and
>> share the Center's work non-commercially. CRP will continue to offer
>> its data to commercial users for a negotiable fee.
>> OpenSecrets.org also offers a number of APIs (Application Programming
>> Interfaces) to give users direct access via web programming to data
>> displayed on OpenSecrets.org. Web developers are already using these
>> APIs to display OpenSecrets data on their web pages and create  
>> mashups
>> using live, up-to-date data.
>> Users can also share CRP data using OpenSecrets.org's widgets, which
>> can be placed easily on any website or blog. New widgets for the 2010
>> election cycle are in development.
>> Another New Feature: Enhanced Politician Profiles
>> In addition to making its data archives available, today the Center
>> has enhanced its online campaign finance profiles for members of
>> Congress. Visitors to OpenSecrets.org now have three options for
>> viewing the top industries and contributors supporting a particular
>> lawmaker: 1) money raised by the politician's campaign committee, 2)
>> money raised by the politician's leadership PAC or 3) money raised by
>> the campaign and PAC combined. More than 300 members of Congress are
>> also linked to a political action committee, ostensibly to raise  
>> money
>> to support other members of their party.
>> "Campaign committees and leadership PACs are two of the deepest
>> pockets in a politician's coat," Krumholz said, "so it's important to
>> watch them together to see who's potentially building the most
>> influence with a lawmaker."
>> OpenSecrets.org's enhanced profiles for members of Congress also now
>> allow users to download deeper tables of data-aggregated data and
>> "top" rankings, but not individual records, in a variety of formats
>> with one easy click. This feature will be integrated into other
>> sections of OpenSecrets.org in the future.
>> Krumholz said, "All these enhancements to OpenSecrets.org are about
>> one thing: showing more people how money's influence on politics
>> affects their lives--and empowering them to do something about it."
>> #  #  #
>> OpenSecrets.org's bulk data is now available for download through the
>> site's Action Center at
>> http://www.opensecrets.org/action/data.php.
>> The Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research
>> group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and
>> public policy. For more than 25 years the nonpartisan, nonprofit
>> Center has aimed to create a more educated voter, an involved
>> citizenry and a more responsive government. CRP's award-winning
>> website, OpenSecrets.org, is the most comprehensive resource for
>> campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available  
>> anywhere.
>> For other organizations and news media, CRP's exclusive data powers
>> their online features tracking money in politics. CRP relies on
>> support from a combination of foundation grants and individual
>> contributions. The Center accepts no contributions from businesses,
>> labor unions or trade associations.
>> --
>> Jonathan Gray
>> Community Coordinator
>> The Open Knowledge Foundation
>> http://www.okfn.org
>> ..

Puneet Kishor http://www.punkish.org/
Carbon Model http://carbonmodel.org/
Charter Member, Open Source Geospatial Foundation http://www.osgeo.org/
Science Commons Fellow, Geospatial Data http://sciencecommons.org
Nelson Institute, UW-Madison http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/
collaborate, communicate, compete

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