Visualized news

Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation wonders about extending the idea in the infrastructure project into her territory: tracking Congress.

I wonder what the analogue to what might be in our world of Congressional activity? A Google map of earmarks? A map that reflects where lawmakers have their fundraising events with lobbyists? (Yes, still permitted.) A Gawker Stalker effort that tracks lobbyists visits in the halls of Congress? A map that shows the land deals lawmakers have that also shows earmarks from the same members? A map of lawmakers daily schedules, each point representing the location of the group/business/person the lawmaker is meeting with (not the location of the meeting). More ideas?

How about mapping a politician’s donors to see how much comes from local support vs. outside interests (i.e., how much comes from Washington itself)?

How about mapping that against corporate headquarters in industries (e.g., someone on a health oversight committee gets lots of donations from New Jersey because there are so many pharma companies there)?

How about timelines showing how active each congressman is, visualizing their productivity: bills introduced, votes, and such?

How about mapping that against the timing of donations from various industries, showing the correlation (if not cause-and-effect)?

I’d like to animate the Washington Post’s wonderful candidate tracker against time to see who’s paying attention to what states when and what pays off.

What else?

  • Rather than a simple animation I have always wanted to see an interactive timeline ( combined with a goole map. So as the timeline is dragged to show a different period of time the google map updates itself to show the relevant points.

    I think think this would be quite useful for what you are suggesting.

  • How about aggregating the congress trackers that exist? There are groups tracking very closely how each member of congress treats their issue, but few do a great job of tracking all members on all issues. An aggregator could fill that gap. Also, it could include data about lobbyist meeting/donation/fundraiser amounts and dates, and compare that to the voting records. All the info is out there, but it hasn’t been collected neatly. A visual aggregateor (timeline, graph, or map) could achieve this beautifully.

  • Don

    Allow me to brainstorm by combining the first two excellent posts to propose an interactive timeline aggregation of contributions and votes. An automated association between a given contribution and interest in the outcome of a particular vote remains elusive.

    Hypothetically speaking Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) may passionately care about immigration bills that impact it’s supply of cheap labor, but it couldn’t care less about inner city health care bills. ADM’s associative attribute would indicate a strong interest in immigration and a weak interest in urban health care. An automated association relieves a politically savvy person from the tedium of manual maintenance.

  • TLB

    I’d like a source of state data, such as the contributions to people like Huckabee. I wouldn’t be surprised if those contributions taste like chicken.

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  • This site has an interesting way of graphically displaying correlations between data sets.

    Pick to items and see how well they track each other. Lots of surprises.

  • Don
  • These are all great ideas. We’ll pursue them here at Sunlight. And some of what has been suggested — by Jeff and Dan– correlations between money and votes and timing — is happening at one of our

  • David

    Doesn’t already do a lot of this? Not that it couldn’t be improved significantly of course or that the data could be aggregated elsewhere…