Public.Resource.Org

Public.Resource.Org is a non-profit corporation whose motto is “Making Government Information More Accessible”.

From the organization’s articles of incorporation:

The specific purpose of this corporation is to create, architect, design, implement, operate and maintain public works projects on the Internet for Educational, Charitable, and Scientific Purposes to the benefit of the general public and the public interest; to increase and diffuse knowledge about the Internet in its broadest sense; to promote and facilitate the expansion, development, and growth of the public infrastructure of the Internet by any means consistent with the public interest through other activities, including, but not limited to, publications, meetings, conferences, training, educational seminars, and the issuance of grants and other financial support to educational institutions, foundations and other organizations exclusively for Educational, Charitable, and Scientific Purposes.

ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer

From the site:

Nonprofit Explorer includes nonprofit tax return data released by the IRS in April 2013 for tax returns processed by the IRS during 2012. This generally consists of filings for the 2011 fiscal year, but may include older records. The IRS data release includes only a subset of what can be found in the full Form 990s. Wherever possible, we’ve linked to PDFs of the full 990 for each organization, some going back ten years, collected at public.resource.org.”

ProPublica also has an excellent guide for investigating nonprofits.

iWitness: Explore social media content by time and place

Try iWitness here. Note: It works with Google Chrome and Safari, but not Firefox or Internet Explorer.

About iWitness, from the iWitness FAQ:

Q: What is iWitness?
A: iWitness is a free, web-based software tool that makes it easy for people to explore social media content by time and place.

Q: How does it work?
A: iWitness scans social media services for content that a user has attached a location to. Any content without a location attached to it does not show up in iWitness.

Q: What social media services does iWitness support?
A: The initial release of iWitness scans Twitter and Flickr. It can also show photos and videos posted to Twitter that are hosted on the following services:

Photos: Twitter, Instagram, Twitpic, Twitgoo, Lockerz
Videos: YouTube, Twitvid, Vimeo

Q: What about Facebook? I love Facebook!
A: We love Facebook too. But Facebook doesn’t let us access the location associated with a piece of content. We hope they will in the future. Fortunately, iWitness is an open-source tool, meaning anyone can modify it or extend it to support new services.

Q: What browsers does iWitness work on? Can I use it on my phone or tablet?
A: iWitness works with WebKit-based browsers such as Google Chrome or Safari. You can use it on an iPad, but it’s not designed to work on the small screens of mobile phones.

Q: Where does the source code live?
A: You can access the source code repository at https://github.com/adaptivepath/iWitness.

Q: Who created iWitness?
A: These folks:

Adaptive Path design team
Product Concept, Project Lead, and UX Design:
Jesse James Garrett
Visual Design: Vanessa Stepanenko
Project Manager: Eun-Joung Lee

New Context development team
John Andrews
Alex Burkhart
Mike Enriquez
Adam McCrea
Jerry Nümmi
Project Manager: Mike Doel

Political advertising data

Wanna know how much a candidate, party or PAC paid for that 30 second ad you saw on TV?

As of August 2012 the Federal Communications Commission TV Station Profiles & Public Inspection Files
website
includes “political files” for local television stations affiliated with the top four national networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox) located in the top 50 DMAs (Designated Market Areas). The political file documents include detailed information about political advertising, including the cost of specific commercials.

Search by call sign (e.g., WXYZ), network affiliation (e.g., NBC), channel number (e.g., 26), or facility ID number (e.g., 123456).

ProPublica’s Free The Files project is extracting information from those FCC documents to make it possible to search and analyze the data.

Staying on top of it

Google Alerts are a quick and easy way to keep up with news, blogs, updates to company web sites — anything you can find with a Google search.

To set up an alert go to www.google.com/alerts, type in a search, give your email address, and you’ll get an email whenever Google finds new results for that search.

You don’t have to have a Google account to use Google Alerts, but if you do have an account you can edit your alerts by tweaking the search and changing the frequency of the emails.

Advanced Google search features help make sure your alert doesn’t send you irrelevant stuff:

Use double quotes to search for a name or an exact phrase: “frank biden” won’t find Francis W. Biden, but it will eliminate results that list Joe Biden and some other guy named Frank

Search within a specific web site: “boynton beach” site:sun-sentinel.com or “palm beach” site:nytimes.com

Use a wildcard to replace words: “* scott signed * bill finds Governor Scott signed a bill that would allow prayer and Rick Scott signed House Bill 1513.

More Google search tips here and here.