We cannot stress the importance of change.gov's CC license to this project. This project could be illegal without the proper licensing. And we would like to express our most sincere thanks to the transition team for releasing change.gov under the CC license thereby allowing us to create this resource in return!
Jimmy Wales and I have been seeking funding to create a "Transparent Federal Budget"(TFB) since Mar 2006. I consider this project to be a proof of concept for the Transparent Federal Budget (TFB) project. It has several very important aspects. It has transparent version control where anyone can see the changes. It has permalinks so that people can refer to the specific paragraphs in change.gov and specific changes to change.gov. And it hopefully soon will have an RSS feed of changes so people can be informed of changes automatically. (The current change.gov site only has an RSS feed of the news section.)
The idea of creating the 3rd party version control site was inspired by Tim O'Reilly's post. http://radar.oreilly.com/2008/11/change-gov-revision-control.html Tim, Karl Fogel, and I had actually discussed something similar to this setup for TFB at OSCON 2007. Karl Fogel (founder of subversion) had just done a presentation at the Radar Executive briefing session on "Why Congress Needs a Version Control System." Silona and Chris Messina (http://factoryjoe.com) had actually come up with a similar idea at a brainstorming session for legislation.wikia.com at the second ever barcamp.org at Stanford the year before in Aug 2006. So I literally stalked Karl after I found out he was presenting on this topic at OSCON.
I decided that doing change.gov was small enough and simple enough to be a good proof of concept for TFB so I recruited Brian Gannon to write the bot code. Basically I promised him babysitting time for his 6mon old and cupcakes for his wife (a longtime friend.)
LoTV is going to be releasing the bot code as GFDL the same as wikia and wikipedia. Not sure yet where it will be hosted. After talking to Artur Bergman, I decided that mediawiki had all the basic features that we needed and I asked Jimmy if I could host it at wikia.com. Angela Beesley then helped get the new wiki setup at wikia.com.
LoTV decided to do this in conjunction with wikia.com so that we could more easily involve the wiki community. Having bot generated content is new to the wiki space so we are figuring out how best to integrate it. But we hope it makes it easier to fact check and document change.gov because of the ability to do paragraph specific references.
Change.wikia.gov is a place to document discussion around topics on change.gov to refute or validate facts as they are published. Interactivity that would be hard for the transition team to monitor. This way the normal liability aspects do not exist.
In true web 2.0 fashion those discussions are not limited to change.wikia.com but can spread because of permalinks. These create a permanent point of reference for bloggers and other members of the press. Because of the version control, journalists can reference content that will not change.
Also with the ability to compare versions, Differences btn the sites on different dates is easily read.
for example - http://change.wikia.com/index.php?title=Learn_obama_biden_transition_age... You can see who was added to the transition team that day. This is a wonderful point of reference for any journalist watching the transition.
Features to add:
Looking for volunteer programmers to help add features to mediawiki and our bot.
Looking for wikians to help with the structure and rules of the wiki since we are venturing into new territory. Please come and discuss possible structures on change.wikia.com!
SO sign up NOW peeps!