The site currently offers profiles of 171352 people and 60979 organizations in varying stages of completion. These include, but are not limited to:
- Politicians: members of Congress since 1979, governors since 1974, Bush and Obama administration officials.
- Business people: Fortune 1000 executives and directors, members of the Forbes 400.
- Lobbyists who have lobbied on behalf of Fortune 1000 companies.
- Government bodies: US House & Senate; agencies ranging from the Department of Defense to the IRS.
- Businesses: Fortune 1000 companies, lobbying firms, top law firms, and other private companies.
- Non-profits such as foundations, think tanks, and political organizations.
RelationshipsLittleSis offers some data about these people and organizations themselves, but it's focus is on the relationships between them. There are currently 1011466 relationships linking entities profiled in the database. The word "relationship" is broadly defined, and can include:
- Organizational affiliations: employment, directorships, memberships.
- Donations: political contributions, grants.
- Social: family ties, mentorships, friendships.
- Professional: partnerships, supervisory relationships.
- Services/contracts: legal representation, government contracts, lobbying services.
Moreover, LittleSis's data model minimizes bias and maximizes its reusability by other projects like mashups and network visualizations. Moreover, relationships can be easily aggregated to reveal patterns, saving users the manual tabulation. For example, LittleSis automatically shows which organizations are linked through common personnel, and which people donate to the same set of political candidates.
Wiki FeaturesOur data derives from government filings, news articles, and other reputable sources. Some data sets are updated automatically; the rest is filled in by our user community.
Making edits on LittleSis is more like adding friends on Facebook than modifying a Wikipedia page. The editing process mostly consists of adding relationships between people and groups. Users don't have to be great writers or learn a special formatting language in order to contribute quality information to LittleSis.
We have made accuracy a major priority for LittleSis; LittleSis implements stricter editing controls than typical wikis. Editors – called "analysts" on LittleSis – must provide a reference link for every update they make, and links must point to authoritative sources. This requirement not only ensures credible data, but also provides researchers with valuable links to further information.
Unlike Wikipedia, editors have to sign in to make edits. Registered users can choose to keep their real name hidden, but are still accountable to the community: all modifications to data are logged, so users that make inaccurate or malicious edits can lose editing privileges. Currently, LittleSis staff members enforce these standards, though the user community will eventually be self-policing.
Analyst NotesThe LittleSis developers are admittedly latecomers to Twitter. Microblogging makes nuanced argument difficult, but is quite effective for documenting simple facts and leads. What better model to mimic, then, for LittleSis’s analyst note system?
We’ve decided to modify Twitter’s format to make it more flexible for LittleSis analysts, thus feeding many birds with one worm:
- Notes let analysts keep memos — public or private — that make their own research easier and more complete. Notes are more useful when concise, but aren’t limited to Twitter’s 140 characters.
- Notes let analysts “alert” other analysts using Twitter’s @username markup. Multiple analysts can be “alerted” within one note. A private note can only be viewed by its author and any analysts it alerts
- Notes can link to any combination of entity, relationship, and list pages using a simple markup. For example, @entity:1 will create a link to Walmart, whereas @entity:1[biggest company in the world] will create a link to the biggest company in the world. @rel and @list work the same way.
- While notes are designed to the above needs, all of which LittleSis analysts have asked for, we encourage you to experiment with them and find new uses we haven’t thought of.
Data SourcesMuch of our data derives from government records and other free services that collect them.
- Data about members of Congress come from the Congressional Biographical Directory, GovTrack.us, and Project Vote Smart.
- Political contribution information is from the Federal Elections Commission.
- Corporate board and executive information comes from the Form 4 and 10-K filings of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- Lobbying data is from the US Senate's Lobbying Disclosure Act database.
- Government contract data from the Federal Procurement Data System, by way of OMBWatch's FedSpending.org.