social networking in reverse 01.14.2009, 4:24 PM
posted by dan visel
A quick note to point out LittleSis, an "involuntary Facebook of powerful Americans," a project of the Public Accountability Initiative funded by the Sunlight Foundation. It's something like a networked telephone book of the rich and powerful: LittleSis aggregates publicly available information about America's officials, both public and private. If you go to, for example, John McCain's page, you can see information about the positions he's served in, political fundraising committees that have raised money for him, and individuals who have given him money. Clicking on the names of any of those organizations will go to the LittleSis page about them, so one can see, for example, with whom McCain sits on the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee. All of this information has been automatically gathered, but links to sources are given on all pages - the McCain information, for example, comes from GovTrack.us, watchdog.net, Project Vote Smart, the Congressional Biographical Directory, and FEC Disclosure Reports. Nor is it limited to politicians: one can learn that Steve Jobs was a Friend of Rahm Emanuel in 2004.
LittleSis is reminiscent of They Rule, a website from a couple of years ago that mapped out relationships between the members of corporate boards – maybe They Rule is Friendster to LittleSis's Facebook, having taken as a lesson what's happened on the web in the past few years with the rise of social networking. LittleSis is much more open-ended: one can spend a lot of time browsing LittleSis. There's also a wiki component: as the information is automatically gathered, not all of it makes sense yet – Bob Packwood, for example, turns up as both "Bob Packwood" (lobbyist) and "Robert William Packwood" (former Senator). More data sources are still being added; it's important that the sources of the data can be accounted for. It's an interesting project, and worth tracking.
One of the developers of LittleSis is Institute alum Eddie Tejeda; though he's moved to San Francisco, he's currently working with us to develop and new and improved version of CommentPress, which should be coming soon.
Posted by dan visel on January 14, 2009 4:24 PM
gw on January 19, 2009 8:06 AM:
Thanks for the update. Really looking forward to the new version of CommentPress!
marginalia on January 24, 2009 10:51 AM:
This is great news, is there any way to know when the new version will be available? And in the meantime, is there a way to download any of the old versions? We're trying to place a comment-based journal online, and it would be incredibly helpfull.