I really like that blogging has taken off. What I like about blogging is that it offers “civilians” like me, a chance to voice my opinions without going through radio channels, news channels, magazine and newspaper editors, etc. It will be interesting to see in the future, if television and newspapers will be fading out as the go to site for news, and bloggers and YouTube videos will be the pseudo journalists? Are [media outlets] ready to learn something from Hollywood, as the Online Journalism Review writes?
I had never heard of sites like MapLight.org or Opensecrets.org until reading Web Mashups Turn Citizens Into Washington’s Newest Watchdogs by Michael Calore where bloggers, students, lobbyists or activists can use these sites as a sounding board about the money a politician receives and what he/she does with that money and about legislation, bills and other government issues. I think this is great! Politicians need to be accountable for the money they receive and if there are sites that make government officials accountable for their money, I think it can shake them up a bit. I have to go on my soap box for a minute. I think that politicians get away with too much and I think they need to be liable for what they do and do not do with money. With these sites that anyone can see and use, it gives America a good chance to know what is going in Washington. Calore states these new tools are providing an unprecedented level of transparency, exposing patterns of influence that otherwise would have remained invisible to ordinary citizens.
The only catch to MapLight.org, which I think is a little fishy, is that information can be added to this site, but it cannot be made public until the information is verified by a site administrator. This makes me wonder if the site administrator can pick and choose what they want to post. Are more severe issues that can contain incriminating evidence left out of the public database due to the nature of their content?
What I think would be a good thing for MapLight.org to do, is, a joint venture with News Mixer. The idea behind this would be for people who post to MapLight.org to be given the option of cross-posting their comments to their Facebook page so that their friends/fans are exposed to a site they might otherwise have not known about. For people like me who haven’t heard of this site before, this would be a good tool!