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politiwidgets.jpg
Many Eyes, YouCalc and FusionCharts (disclaimer: infosthetics.com sponsor) are a few existing online services that allow for the easy integration of infographics and online content. Some services skip the user-driven authoring, and are already merged with powerful datasets, such as for football, soccer, or other sports.

PolitiWidgets [politiwidgets.com] now takes this idea to the political realm. PolitiWidgets is a recent initiative by Open Data evangelist Sunlight Foundation that aims for a better distribution of politically relevant data in online media. These easily customizable political infographics are specifically designed to be embedded in blog posts or online journal articles, encouraging readers to explore constantly updated facts that support the written content. The widgets can contain various data attributes, ranging from Vote Reports over Campaign Contributions to Earmarks.

Clay Johnson at InfoVegan, however, just formulated an interesting critique of PolitiWidgets in terms of the apparent lack of context to understand the information shown by these widgets. While they reveal specific facts, there is no comparison or historical meaning, making useful insights about the information shown difficult to impossible. For instance, is receiving a donation of $12,000 from a company significant or not? Did the lawmaker ever make decisions that affected this company?

See also VoteEasy.

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1 COMMENT

politiwidgets is pretty much a fake site and shouldn't be promoted here without notice of this major caveat and perhaps a discussion on how information can be used for as, well, misinformation.

just to give you an example of what i'm talking about, for rep. James Inhoffe - politiwidgets reports a maximum campaign contribution of $5000 dollars from an obscure company. opensecrets.org reports a total from pac and individual contributions at $41,800 from the koch company, a well known conservative / libertarian financier.

however, for rep. barbara lee, a democrat, the site does in fact use the total from individual and pac contributions as listed on opensecrets.org, with no distinction between individual and company donations from gilead sciences.

Tue 16 Nov 2010 at 12:54 AM
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