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Civic minded hackers from all over the world recently organized themeselves for action as a part of the International Open Government Hackathon. The team from Portland, Oregon decided to make use of a platform called ScraperWiki that can grab data from government websites and turn into more consumable formats via the ScraperWiki API. Their work is an excellent example of developer ingenuity at unlocking data that is hard to use but still very useful.
One of the major purposes of a Web API is to expose a structured content that you can use in your own app, create some great mashup and share it with your friends. But what do you do if a popular app does not expose any API? If you're a developer, you write code to scrapes the app's content and transform it to a format you need. It's admittedly murky legal territory, but ScraperWiki makes that process easier by providing a console and an API to access the data you collect.