Category Archives: transparency

Oligrapher from LittleSis

The folks at LittleSis (the opposite of Big Brother) have just released a nice tool for creating “powermaps” using the relationships between entities in their database. Powermaps are an informal term for a type of network graph illustrating various types of relationships between (often multiple types) of people or institutions

The maps are quite lovely, built as zoomable SVG objects embedded in the webpage with elegant highlighting and mouse-over label reveals. The entities on screen supporting clicking through to the corresponding page in the LittleSis database. From peeking at the Oiligrapher source code on github it appears that the tool makes heavy use of d3 (of course) and some of the force-directed network layout code. They cite Mark Lombardi as a strong influence for the visual aesthetic. Not sure about speed/performance issues on larger networks, but this seems like a great tool for these types of relatively sparse illustrations.

Open Government Data

…the book

Josh Tauber (the guy behind GovTrack) recently wrote a book on Open Government Data. I think the chapter where he walks through the process of scraping and building a visualization is great, this kind of thing should be required reading for all non-coders who are interested in technology and transparency issues. It walks through really practical examples of why formats matter. Also liked the figure on the right for locating the strengths of various types of data formats with respect to intended use. Makes the great point that a “high-quality” electronic document isn’t always better for some purposes.
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CorpWatch API lauch!

For the past several months, Greg and I have been working on project to scrape corporate subsidiary ownership relations from Securities Exchange Commission filings. The first part of the project launched today! So now you can pull down company names and relationships for more than 200,000 publicly traded U.S. corporations and their subsidiaries from If writing code is not your thing, we also built an interactive browser for the data at

Continue reading CorpWatch API lauch!