Programmable web just pointed to a really interesting mashup competition. Sunlight labs announced the Apps for America contest and the idea is to attract programmers that will use a series of data APIs to “make Congress more accountable, interactive and transparent”. Among the criteria two stand out:
- Usefulness to constituents for watching over and communicating with their members of Congress
- Potential impact of ethical standards on Congress
The design goal is accountability and that indeed is a perfect case for society oriented design. While people in Europa love to scold the US for their lack of data protection and privacy laws, just looking at the APIs the contest proposes to use makes me salivate for something similar in France. If you look at the Capitol Words API for example, just imagine the kind of discourse analysis one could build on that. Representations of what is said in Congress that make the data digestable and bring at least some of the debate potentially closer to citizens. The whole thing is just a really great idea…
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