Change.gov, the website where President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team can interact with constituents, just unveiled a neat tool using startup technology — through Blist, the simple database for non-experts, the team is sharing its giant list of donors.
The transition team was already publishing the list as a simple HTML table, but using Blist makes the data much more interactive. You can sort the data just as you would on a spreadsheet — searching, for example, for the biggest donor, or for donors who work for Facebook (it turns out there’s just one). The table is embedded on the web page, so you don’t have to download a giant Excel file, and it also allows me to embed the data behind the jump in this post. (By the way, if the list covered donations to the Obama campaign proper, my name would be on it.)
National Journal’s David Herbert, a fellow Stanford Daily alum, sorted through the numbers and spotted Craigslist founder Craig Newmark among the new donors.
This is a big improvement for Change.gov and is one of the coolest ways the site is living up to its promise to increase transparency. It’s also a great showcase for Blist’s potential — it’s one thing to say the Seattle startup’s product is a ridiculously easy-to-use database, and another to actually have a compelling demonstration of its usefulness running on a prominent website. In my past life as a local government reporter, I often had to sort through reams of budget and salary information on spreadsheet printouts, so it would be great to see more government agencies sharing data via Blist. It would also be great if Blist was a little faster.