Participatory Bureaucracy

I’ve been playing with Transparency Corps, which I would like to write about. Besides being intriguing it would make my time marking up earmarks in the system research time rather than distraction from work.

It’s an interesting experience doing the earmark project, wherein you, the human, transcribe the vital data on earmark letters for the thousands of mysteriously funded projects that roll down the hill unto the masses. I am terrified of getting something wrong, and I already have once, but have no way of fixing it. Alas.

It’s nice to think of Sunlight getting all this civically-minded mechanical turk data, I’m almost more interested in the people, who, like me, are suddenly poking their noses in and wondering what these occult bit of government actually do. You simply cannot transcribe these earmarks without thinking about them. Some of them look like damn good ideas. Some of them seem just a bit off. Scariest, some of them so obviously have not been thought about by any human being between the requester and you- completely sliding through the government system in a form letter of appropriations. (Also, what the hell is with none of these earmarks giving funding amounts? )

Go to, sign up, and try out a few earmarks. For a boring task, it’s a pretty interesting experience.