The Sunshine Review

2009 March 25
by Attorney Mark Dumas

The internet can be a powerful tool for open government, but sometimes a great idea doesn’t achieve its potential.  For Connecticut, the Sunshine Review is a good example of an opportunity lost for freedom of information.

The Sunshine Review is a “wiki” where anyone can publish a report on transparency in state and local government.  For those of you who don’t know what a wiki is, here is what Wikipedia has to say about them.

A wiki is a collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis.

Unfortunately, the collaborative and community aspects of the Sunshine Week wiki have not taken off.  Few of Connecticut’s cities have been reviewed and those that have been reviewed have not been reported on thoroughly.  The page for Connecticut is okay, but it isn’t the go-to resource that one might hope to find for such a website with a grand concept like the Sunshine Review.  But the potential is there.  Just take a look at the New Orleans review.  It may not be flashy, but it gives you the basics.  For most people, that’s all they ask to see.

So if you are a local activist or journalist, consider taking a few minutes to update your local city or town’s report.  The internet will thank you.

One Response leave one →
  1. 2009 April 10
    Diana Lopez permalink

    I appreciate this generous review of our website. It is true that the collaborative and community aspects of Sunshine Review can improve, as our site is not exhaustive in its reporting. This, however, is exactly why the wiki format works so well for this kind of project: we need people like you (or you, Mark!) to participate in building the resource. This not only helps us present a good product, it also greatly increases the amount of information available on a single government entity or transparency issue in one single page, saving concerned citizens research time.

    More importantly, asking citizens to participate in compiling information directly involves them in the political process. What better way to improve the feeling of citizen efficacy?

    We started in July of 2008 and have grown quickly. We expect to continue growing and improving, and appreciate the encouragement from people like you.

    -Diana Lopez
    Editor, Sunshine Review

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