Welcoming the Posse

A big welcome to friends of the Sunlight Foundation! Today’s Sunlight post marks LittleSis’s first real steps out into the wide world of the internet. We’re very happy that transparency’s posse is getting a first peek at the site, because we designed it for people like you: people focused on breaking through the information barriers that hurt our democracy.

From Wall Street to Washington, the need to bring transparency to powerful social networks is urgent. This has become increasingly clear over the past six months, as the economy has sunk to new depths, and leaders in business and government have formulated deeply unpopular responses to the challenges that the country faces.

By tracking the relationships of powerful Americans – everything from campaign contributions to family ties – LittleSis opens up these networks for public inspection. “Big Brother” is commonly used to describe a situation where the electronic eyes of the powers that be are vigilantly watching citizens for misbehavior. LittleSis is a website where the electronic eyes of citizens are vigilantly watching back.

The Sunlight Foundation first began supporting LittleSis.org about six months ago. At the time, the project was still a raggedy prototype. It was, and still is, a project of the Public Accountability Initiative, an emerging nonprofit founded by me, Matthew, and several other veterans of academia, activism, and the world of web 2.0. Sunlight recognized the urgency of the project and its goals and threw their support behind our project. We’re very grateful for their support.

Like all of you, and like Sunlight, LittleSis is part of a movement to bring transparency to government and open up the channels of power in this country. At a time of great crisis and enormous challenges, it’s movements like this one that will turn the page on an era of failed leadership and failed policy, and hit refresh on our democracy.