Project Proposals23 Feb 2010 11:27 pm

The aim of this project is to make the ARRA data more meaningful to people
who might find the data reported at recovery.gov difficult to make sense
of, or difficult to relate to their own lives.

A news feed that can provide users with some context for what recovery act recipients are accomplishing locally might help to make the data more accessible to people, although I am still having trouble figuring out how to put together a news feed that could provide meaningful/useful context without overwhelming the context with noise.  Some possible sources might be feeds using google news, yahoo search, google blog search, and the NYT APIs.  The goal would be to combine  news feeds focused on  recovery act recipients with the recipient-reported data at recovery.gov, so that if a user is looking at particular recipients, s/he gets links to related stories.

I am imagining a web interface, maybe starting with a searchable grid
layout similar to the “advanced recipient reported data search” at recovery.gov
http://www.recovery.gov/pages/TextViewProjSummary.aspx?data=recipientAwardsList

but with the retrieved data focused on news feed information, together
with related ARRA funding data.  If possible, I would also like to create a
searchable map interface.

The ARRA data can be downloaded from recovery.gov, or possibly accessed through the RPI SPARQL project.  New York Times data can be accessed through several APIs — the Search and Tags APIs are promising for stories that make the national news, but other sources will be necessary for local coverage outside of the New York metropolitan area.

I am not sure what languages I will need to use for this project– in
addition to (possibly) Python, I guess PHP?

I am also not sure how doable this project will be given time constraints and
my starting knowledge.  I have some coding experience but not in this
context, and very little experience with web architecture or web
interfaces.

Currently I’m exploring different news sources to see what combinations of information can provide useful context for a user looking at recipients in a particular zip code.  In addition to the other difficulties already mentioned,
identifying news sources/searches that would be meaningful to users, without requiring a lot of winnowing on the user’s part, feels like the most important barrier right now.

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