September 2008

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2008. has launched a new site, ibelieveinopen, asking candidates (and citizens) to take a pledge for openness:

I believe candidates should:

  • Support reforms that increase government transparency and accountability.
  • Make campaign promises specific and measurable, and report progress on promises and their metrics at least semi-annually.
  • Publish the content of his or her daily schedule, including meetings with lobbyists and special interest groups.
  • Support reforms allowing free access to scientific and survey data gathered by government institutions.
  • Support reforms that make it easier for Canadians to obtain government information they have a right to know.

As of today, there are 51 candidate pledges (29 Greens, 21 NDP, and 1 Libera)l.

You might consider sending your candidates an email asking them if they intend to take the pledge. This is what I sent to my candidates:


Will [Candidate Name] be signing this pledge?

51 candidates have done so already.

Hugh McGuire

Here’s what Twitter users think about their candidates
Voici ce que les utilisateurs de Twitter pensent de leurs candidats


Some of us are kinda, well, obsessed with the political jockeying south of the border, and this little Canadian contest seems almost beside the point (of course it isn’t). But anyway, for those of you who are data junkies at the best of times, and now suffering from Obamamania, and/or Palin fever, there are a few great projects out of the good ol US of A. [Would be nice to see the same effort and creativity put into Canadian politics, but I suspect that’s just dreaming.] Anyway, here a few nice sites to visit:, visual depiction of who’s in the news:
Everymoment Now : Obama Vs. McCain : Context and Scope to the 2008 US General Election (a site that digests all existing polling data, weighs it according to the polls’ past performance, and gives meta polling results, as well as some insightful commentary):


CafePress Meter (user-made t-shirt sales as polling indicator, apparently a far better measure than the traditional polls):

cafepress meter

Do you have any good US election data sites? Any good Canadian ones?

I just came across Many-Eyes which is a really great online collaborative data visualization tool designed by the IBM Collaborative User Experience (CUE) Visualization Collaboration Lab.

You essentially contribute a dataset and use their online visualization tools to see what you’ve got. A colleague added these Canadian City datasets and it was truly very easy and helpfull to find different ways to tease out patterns and to assess the best way derive a story from them.  The results provided us with a boundary object to facilitate our discussions on how we will design a report.

The options are great as you can create contemporary tag clouds, treemaps, network maps, flow lines, bubble charts, block histograms as well as your usual line graphs, pie charts and bar graphs.  They even have some rudimentory choropleth mapping tools.  You can view multiple variables and time series for a particular dataset which allows you to see change.

In our case, we will probably play with these tools and also excell graphs, present these to our graphic designers who will trace them into the look and feel of our report.  The best part is to know that we can communicate effectively without robbing the visualization bank and by moving forward on more interesting ways to tell our stories.


Carl Malamud in a Google TechTalk, “All the Government’s Information”:

[Thanks Eric!]