Opening Government with Python

On October 4th, we were lucky to be joined by James Turk from the Sunlight Foundation, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike. They are committed to improving access to government information by making it available online, indeed redefining “public” information as meaning ‘online,’ and by creating new tools and websites to enable individuals and communities to better access that information and put it to use.” James’s talk focused primarily on the collection, cleaning and publication of government data which can be a daunting task at times. One of the projects he works on called OpenStates.org features a report card which describes how difficult it sometimes is to get data from different government websites. You guessed it, James is a proponent of using Python to wrangle with this data and suggested using a library called scrapelib which comes out of the Sunlight Foundation. James’s slides are available along with the video of his talk for those who are following along at home.

We are very lucky to have Gabriel Florit from the Boston Globe join us for our next scheduled talk in our speaker series. The talks are meant to provide the participants with greater context, to understand why what they are learning in DST4L is useful.

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