FOIA…and Rick Astley

As I’ve talked to technology for transparency activists over the past year, one thing that’s repeatedly come up is the importance of traditional transparency tools — partnering with the mainstream media to get the word out tends to be more effective than going it alone with phones and websites, for example. One key aspect of this “old school” activism is the use of freedom of or right to information laws (FOIA/RTI) in different countries — officially requisitioning information from the government. This doesn’t always work, of course; bureaucratic processes often draw out the process interminably, and some governments simply don’t have the capacity to keep track of the kinds of data transparency activists would like.

Today, I stumbled across of the best uses of public record requests I’ve seen since I’ve started paying attention to this field. Thank you, Oregon House of Representatives, for this gem, created with the help of a public records request for hours of film of the February 2010 legislative session:

More information on how this beauty came to be, and the role that public records requests played, here: How one Oregon lawmaker convinced his colleagues to ‘Rick Roll’ the state legislature