Via Skye Bender-deMoll, an old acquaintance from Santa Fe days, a lovely little example of network mapping and the visual display of quantitative information in the service of the public good: Follow the Oil Money. This website lets you track the network of campaign donations from the oil industry, in its various tentacles, to U.S. politicians, with nifty pictures and charts.
As Skye explains, while all this information is a matter of public record, available from the FEC, working with that data is surprisingly hard. (I didn't appreciate just how hard when I wrote this.) Skye and his collaborator Greg Michalec have done a really impressive job of making this accessible. The result is good for hours and hours of entertainment and enlightenment, even if you think that it's all about constitutionally-protected and democratically legitimate freedom of speech, in the form of dollars, on the part of the companies. (Incidentally, if you do think that, please contact me about exciting business opportunities in Lagos.)
It would be fascinating, if perhaps scary, to see a parallel website for military contractors.
Posted at March 17, 2008 14:04 | permanent link