Feature Overview

LittleSis features interlinked profiles of powerful individuals and organizations in the public and private sectors. Profiles detail a wealth of information vital to any investigation of the ways power and money guide the formulation of public policy, from board memberships to campaign contributions, old school ties to government contracts.

The site currently offers profiles of over 185,000 people and 67,000 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.

Relationships

LittleSis offers some data about these people and organizations themselves, but it's focus is on the relationships between them. There are currently 1174041 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.

Our focus on relationships distinguishes LittleSis from other important research websites that emphasize biographical narrative and history of abuses in their profiles of powerful people, making it a more powerful and flexible platform for exploring and analyzing social networks. For example, Exxon Mobil's Wikipedia page can offer a strong narrative account of the company, but isn't well-equipped to track historical information on the executives and directors of the corporation, the boards they sit on, and the politicians they support.

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 Features

Our 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.

Data Sources

Much of our data derives from government records and other free services that collect them.

Data Summary

3,980,458 Citations
1,469,915 Relationships
251,583 People
93,157 Organizations
72,138 Business People
30,137 Businesses
18,052 Political Fundraising Committees
12,653 Academics
12,230 Lobbyists
9,496 Lawyers
9,013 Political Candidates
8,586 Public Officials
7,238 Private Companies
5,064 Elected Representatives
4,105 Media Personalities
4,045 Government Bodies
4,022 Other Not-for-Profits
3,768 Schools
3,103 Public Companies
2,121 Individual Campaign Committees
1,938 Philanthropies
1,785 Other Campaign Committees
1,555 Lobbying Firms
1,470 Membership Organizations
998 Law Firms
719 Industry/Trade Associations
619 Couples
475 Policy/Think Tanks
444 PACs
349 Consulting Firms
316 Public Intellectuals
300 Cultural/Arts
272 Media Organizations
257 Political Parties
218 Government-Sponsored Enterprises
167 Professional Associations
158 Labor Unions
135 Social Clubs
133 Public Relations Firms
82 Government Advisory Bodies
65 Academic Research Institutes
44 Elite Consensus Groups