ALEC model corporate legislation dump = a huge open data opportunity for automated corruption detection

I was just skimming through “ALEC Exposed,” a fantastic and disturbing document dump from the Center for Media and Democracy, which for the first time shows us over 800 pieces of “model legislation” drafted by and for corporations through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Hooray for whistleblowers!  And hooray for CMD for doing some great analysis and publishing to add context and show this stuff for the corruption of democracy that it is.

But I can’t help but think there’s a huge missed opportunity here to take it to the next level.  Imagine if all of these “model bills” were available via a machine-queryable API.  It would then be pretty easy to write a web-based system that would continuously monitor the APIs of state legislatures for new bills being introduced that had significant textual concordance with the ALEC model legislation.  Automated corporate influence detection!

“The Inheritance”

I just finished reading “The Inheritance,” a new book by New York Times foreign correspondant David E. Sanger. It’s a lucid, thoughtful look inside the Bush foreign policy legacy, with a strong focus on the challenging global security situations in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan that the Obama administration must contend with.   Sobering and worthwhile.

Why NASA Chose Plone, and What They Learned

Katie Cunningham, a technical lead at NASA, has written up a great three-part case study on her experiences managing a massive (and massively successful) project to relaunch the NASA Science website with Plone.

Part I: Why Plone?

Part II: Design and Development

Part III: Lessons Learned

Lots of great lessons in there about what it takes to manage a successful big-league government website project with a world-class open-source CMS like Plone.

And, while we’re on the topic of Plone for government agencies Ken Wasetis’ talk about Why Plone Works Well for Large Government Agencies is well worth watching.