Mashup Congress, Win Money

Some of the most interesting mashup possibilities surround government and politics, so it's great to see the Sunlight Foundation yesterday announced the Mashup Congress Contest:

The Sunlight Foundation is celebrating Sunshine Week with a $2,000 prize for the best "Web 2.0 Mashup" about Congress. The contest deadline is March 17.

Contest judges are digital technology pioneer Esther Dyson, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

Entries will be judged on both creativity and how well they share information about Congress. New productions are encouraged, but any mashup created in the past six months is eligible.

What is the Sunlight Foundation? A noteworthy nonprofit founded last year with the goal of "using the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing, and thus help reduce corruption, ensure greater transparency and accountability by government, and foster public trust in the vital institutions of democracy. We are unique in that technology and the power of the Internet are at the core of every one of our efforts...based on the premise that the collective power of citizens to demand greater accountability is the clearest route to reform." The foundation's name is taken from Justice Louis Brandeis' quote "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

They've already had an impact with projects such as OpenCongress and Congresspedia.

Besides having an API of their own, the Sunlight Foundation also assists organizations in making data available by creating their own APIs. One such example is the very well designed and useful Follow The Money API from the Institute on Money in State Politics (see our earlier coverage on this).

And, over at Sunlight Labs they demonstrate some innovative uses of the governmental data they help expose. For example, two of their applications were just added to our mashup listings including the Earmarks map which helps you answer the question "Is the $1/2 billion dollars in 1753 earmarks on a single appropriations bill reaching your community?"

Earmark Map

Be sure to read the next Government article: 3 New Government APIs