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Reading Your Inbox for Political Dollars

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, June 7 2011

You know how Rapportive can serve up social data keyed off your Gmail inbox? Meet Inbox Influence. It does the same thing, basically, but with details on the political money tied to the people and organizations in your email inbox.

At a press conference this afternoon at PdF '11, Sunlight Labs' director Tom Lee described the tools as providing "ambient annotations" on political dollars. Lee, and Sunlight Foundation executive director Ellen Miller admitted that the data isn't perfect (false positives, messy data, and the like), but said that those flaws point to the need for better political financial reporting in the United States.

Inbox Influence is available as a Chrome and Firefox plug-in, and also works as a browser bookmark. Matching up people with the what databases know about them -- from Twitter databases to FEC databases -- is the next frontier on number of different areas, including in presidential campaigning. There's a certain appeal, for example, in a political campaign targeting potential supporters who also have big numbers of Twitter of Facebook followers.

All of this data is already available, yes, but making it so ambient and so enmeshed in your social network puts a new spin on "public." Give Inbox Influence a whirl and see what you think. And here are the details on the nuts and bolts of how it works.

Note: Our Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry are senior advisors to the Sunlight Foundation.

You know how Rapportive can serve up social data keyed off your Gmail inbox? Meet Inbox Influence. It does the same thing, basically, but with details on the political money tied to the people and organizations in your email inbox.

At a press conference this afternoon at PdF '11, Sunlight Labs' director Tom Lee described the tools as providing "ambient annotations" on political dollars. Lee, and Sunlight Foundation executive director Ellen Miller admitted that the data isn't perfect (false positives, messy data, and the like), but said that those flaws point to the need for better political financial reporting in the United States.

Inbox Influence is available as a Chrome and Firefox plug-in, and also works as a browser bookmark. Matching up people with the what databases know about them -- from Twitter databases to FEC databases -- is the next frontier on number of different areas, including in presidential campaigning. There's a certain appeal, for example, in a political campaign targeting potential supporters who also have big numbers of Twitter of Facebook followers.

All of this data is already available, yes, but making it so ambient and so enmeshed in your social network puts a new spin on "public." Give Inbox Influence a whirl and see what you think. And here are the details on the nuts and bolts of how it works.

Note: Our Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry are senior advisors to the Sunlight Foundation.