Congress, PDFs, and CSVs

reading time 1 min

The Sunlight Foundation spent years meeting with congresspeople trying to convince them to pass laws to get various government data (fundraising domains, government contracts and spending, etc.) published electronically.

They eventually suceeded. However much of it was published in PDF or other unparsable formats.

So then they spent years meeting with congresspeople trying to explain the difference between a PDF and a CSV/MS-Excel. That was freaking difficult. I’m not saying that “old people don’t understand technology”, but these people certainly don’t. They have no interest in technology nor learning about it.

It was a watershed moment the first time a new congressperson actually understood the fucking difference between a PDF and a CSV (or… in layperson’s terms… an MS-Excel spreadsheet).

They felt like, gosh, maybe we’re finally seeing a generation of congresspeople that “get it”.

Who was that first congressperson? Some dude named Barack Obama.

I wonder whatever happened to that guy.

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Tom Limoncelli

Tom Limoncelli

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