All posts tagged ‘contest’

File Under: Databases, Visual Design

Sunlight Labs Offering $5K for Best Government Data Mashups

designforamerica

Artists, web developers and data visualization geniuses, here’s a chance to strut your stuff, serve your country and win some serious money in the process.

Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides tools to make government data more transparent, has announced a new contest called Design for America. Billed as a “design and data visualization extravaganza,” Sunlight is encouraging the public to create and publish data visualizations that help make complex government data easier for people to digest and interact with.

There are several different categories open for submission, including: visualizations of Recovery.gov data that shows how the stimulus money is being spent, visualizations showing how a bill becomes a law, a redesign of a .gov website, and a redesign of any government form. Top prize in each category is a cool $5,000.

Creations can be in any form — a website, a game, a poster, a sculpture, whatever — though we suspect most of the entries will be either posters or interactive Flash graphics.

The contest is being run by Sunlight Labs, the skunkworks wing of the larger Sunlight Foundation. The Sunlight group spends most of its energy collecting government data, organizing it into publicly accessible databases, then creating tools that make it easier for ordinary people to access that data. The non-profit works with organizations like OpenCongress, MapLight, FollowTheMoney and USASpending.gov. Sunlight also maintains a list of APIs developers can use to access the data.

The Design for America contest encourages participants to sift through the vast datasets available from all of these organizations, as well as the datasets maintained by Sunlight Foundation and any raw government data that’s available. As the Sunlight Labs blog says, the goal of the contest is to “tell interesting stories” that go beyond what can be an overwhelming amount of unfiltered data.

Visualizations can be in any medium, not just the web, so if you’re a video or infographic specialist, you can still enter the contest. The main criteria for judging are the visual quality of the artwork and how well the underlying information is conveyed.

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File Under: Business

Amazon Contest Eyes AWS Developers

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon Web Services today launched a contest for developers building their web business off of services like EC2 and S3. The Startup Challenge will award one winner $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS credits, plus potential investment from Amazon.

New startups are commonly using one or more of these web services available from Amazon:

  • EC2 hosts web applications. Our tutorial helps you Get Started With Amazon Cloud Computing.
  • S3 is the “simple storage solution” used by even big name startups, like Twitter.
  • EBS provides persistent storage to EC2.
  • SimpleDB is in beta and provides access to structured data.

In early October Amazon will pick five finalists in the contest, which the public can vote on. A panel of judges will determine the eventual winner. The contest application form is straightforward, with seven long form questions to answer, including the problem being addressed and target customers. Anyone with a qualified entry (I’m assuming this means a site that uses AWS services) receives $25 in AWS credits.

Need some inspiration? Amazon has a list of AWS case studies that show how sites are using their services.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Firefox Declares Best Firefox 3 Extensions

Extend Firefox marchMozilla Labs announced the winners in their contest for the best Firefox 3 add-ons. The Extend Firefox contest received over 100 entries. Tags and bookmarks ruled the winners. See if you can find one or two new extensions to try out.

Best New Add-on

Pencil is a user interface prototyping tool. Not your ordinary extension and it could be useful, too.

Tagmarks is tagging in a click. Rather than use words to describe a bookmark, click icons.

HandyTag uses text tags, but doesn’t make you create them yourself (though you still can). Grabs common tags from del.icio.us and other sources.

Best Updated Add-on

Read It Later has almost hit 1.0. This extension makes it easy to create a “to read” list without the clutter of using standard bookmarks.

TagSifter provides several different ways to browse through the tags you’ve already created. Advanced users can use some fancy logic syntax to find just what they want (i.e., tagged with movie and comedy, but not jackblack).

Bookmarks Preview brings coverflow to bookmarks. Scroll through thumbnails of the pages before deciding where to go.

In addition to these six, the judges also chose some excellent honorable mentions (Close and Forget is a neat idea, if not a little paranoid). Also, probably in honor of sponsor Last.fm, the judges named Fire.fm the best music add-on.

Lifehacker is running a poll asking which of the winners and honorable mentions are best. It’s sort of a People’s Choice award. So far, Read It Later and Fire.fm are tied for a distant second behind None of the above. Tough crowd.

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