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Field Trip, DC-Style

Last Wednesday the sun came out for the first time in days, and it finally started to feel like spring in Washington. I know this because I was outside during the afternoon, on my way to see a presentation by Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation. While I was sorely tempted to go slice golf balls at the driving range in East Potomac Park, I opted for the theoretical sunshine of Transparency 101: The New Web Tools instead.

Here's a tiny recap of a few of the tools Bill showed that were new to me.

Party Time — See all of the fancy parties, sporting events, snack times and other social events congressional candidates and incumbents are slated to attend.

Open Congress — With Open Congress, you can track a bill through the legislative process and in one fell swoop bring that information together with news coverage and other relevant information. You can look for a particular bill by how much it's been viewed, blogged about, appeared in news articles, etc.

Clean Up Data — You can use this site to import data from a spreadsheet and make quick global changes. It's a free service and you have to wait for them to email you the finished product, but it's pretty nifty.

Dabble DB — If you have a spreadsheet with data, Dabble DB will create a searchable database for you. It allows for more sophisticated grouping and queries, intelligent filters, sharing, and lots of visualization options. Librarians have used Dabble DB and lived to tell.

Happy (transparent) searching!

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