Friday, May 28, 2010

Award Season

At the Gov 2.0 Expo, Clay Johnson of the Sunlight Foundation, an organization devoted to political transparency, explained how Sunlight Labs has sponsored two design contest in successive years. Last year the group encouraged programmers and artists to create mash-ups using data that Sunlight had harvested, and this year sponsorship focused on software applications derived from government data on Johnson showed a gallery of winners from Apps for America 2: The Challenge. He apologized for displaying non-interactive versions of the winning web content with his screenshots in his "static" electronic slideshow.

The winner for redesign of a government website went not to one of my Foley winners, but to a heavily used but not-so-bad-to-begin-with website: The Redesign of from We Are a Good Company emphasized the rhetorical presentation of the website. As they put it, "The IRS presence on the web could be a powerful tool to educate people about their taxes, helping the average American understand how and why they pay taxes."

For best visual explanation of a complex process, the laurels went to How Our Laws Are Made. Johnson also explained how his own idea for an explanation of Senate rules only got one entry, albeit a praise-worthy one.

The motion graphics and dynamic typography project Cool Kids at the White House, which shows who has meetings with whom, was built with Adobe Flex, which I have also used in my own work. But I was a bit surprised to hear Johnson apologizing to Adobe, because his provocative manifesto Adobe is Bad for Open Government, which he defended on air, raised a number of excellent issues about openness and readability.

You can read more about this year's winners and runners-up here. Johnson also announced the new Design for America contest, which encourages developers to exploit content at,, and a number of other data sources.

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