June 24, 2009

Website shows power of crowdsourcing in transparency movement

The Guardian provides another example of how powerful a cadre of open government activists working in unison can be. In this case, hundreds of activists started working on a website the paper recently created, developed and launched that focused on uncovering the details of the MP expense scandal.

The Daily Telegraph may have had a team of 25 journalists working on the MPs' expenses - but within 10 minutes of the launch on Thursday afternoon of the Guardian's crowdsourcing application to examine them there were 323 people, almost all outside the Guardian, doing the same task.

The application itself was developed at breakneck speed: coding began on Thursday 11 June, and was complete - aside from ongoing bug fixing as people began using it - by 3.30pm Thursday 18 June.

Less than 30 minutes after the launch, activists reviewed over 2,000 expenses. You can view the website here.

The Guardian is also developing unique features such as a "Top Reviewer" list that notes who has done the most contributing to the site.

As an interesting technical note, the software used to create the website (a web framework called Django) is the same I used to create TransparentNevada.com.