Real Time Political Fact Checking?

From the Washington Post comes an amazing prototype tool that aims to fact check political speaking REAL TIME. It’s called Truth Teller.

Truth Teller is a news application built by the Washington Post with funding from a Knight News Prototype grant. The goal of Truth Teller is to fact check speeches in as close to real time as possible. The three-month prototype built by the Post is an enormous step in that direction.

The genesis of Truth Teller was fairly well captured in this Poynter piece, which came out around the time the funding was announced. (One note: the politician mentioned was Michele Bachmann — a she, not a he.)

Steven Ginsberg saw the future of fact-checking while listening to a politician tell lies in Iowa last summer. “It was one of those small parking lot affairs outside a sports bar and the candidate was there speaking to about 30 people,” said Ginsberg, The Washington Post’s national political editor. ”For about 45 minutes he said a lot of things that I knew to not be true, and nobody else there knew that.” Ginsberg thought there must be a way to offer people in the crowd a real-time accounting of the politician’s misstatements. He called Cory Haik, the Post’s executive producer for digital news, and outlined the issue.

For the prototype, we focused on the looming debate over tax reform, both because of timing and its import for the country. The tax debate will play out over several months and naturally lends itself to deceit and deception — even more so than many policy discussions. We hope that our application will help direct the conversation toward the truth as it is happening so that Americans get a fair shot at deciding this critical issue.

The Truth Teller app follows the text of the speech and matches claims to various data bases.
The Truth Teller app follows the text of the speech and matches claims to various data bases.

Calling All Coders

ToolsCalling all coders and web designers. help us conceptualize and build Apps For Activists at this MeetUp on Tuesday, January 15, 2013.

Calling all technologists, coders and designers – let’s meet a few Chicago community organizers and hear about how they work and see if we can build some tools or apps that will SOLVE some recurring problems they have and make their work more effective!

Chicago is the home of modern community organizing and we a hotbed of innovation and tool making. Let’s MIX these traditions and skill sets together to build a set of Apps For Activists that can be easily grabbed used, improved and re-used.

At this MeetUp let’s meet some experienced Chicago organizers and get a sense of how they approach their work. If people are interested in continuing to meet and do a design hack, we can lay the ground work for that effort.

At i c stars, 415 N. Dearborn Avenue, 3rd floor, 6pm to 8pm.

Update From Nonprofit Software Dev Summit

It’s day one for the gathering of coders, hackers, activists and technologists here in Oakland all focused on civic engagement and social justice sponsored by Aspiration Tec Here is the agenda and session notes. Some 125 people are discussing and sharing news around how technology can boost progressive social change. I am one of the older attendees here and it’s a kick to talk to the younger coders and activists a bout their take on the Internet and how social media and other online tools can bring people together for smart civic engagement and self-determination. I’m talking up the CivicLab, Apps For Activists and  and on Friday morning I’ll do a demo of the TIF Report – which I’ve started calling the TIF Illumination Project. The entire event is facilitated by the super-energetic and passionate director of Aspiration Tech, Allen Gunn, or Gunner, who demands we turn off all our electronic devices and FULLY engage and connect with one another.

Heading To Nonprofit Software Development Summit

Holy coders! Hundreds of socially minded hackers, designers and developers are heading to Oakland this week for the Nonprofit Software Developers Summit hosted by Aspiration Tech. Here are the session clusters on offer:

  • Nonprofit Software Essentials
  • eAdvocacy and Online Organizing
  • Nonprofit Web Development
  • Mobile Development and Mobile Security
  • Mapping and Geographic Information Systems
  • Business Process and Sustainability in NPTech
  • Data, Identity and Privacy
  • Open Source Content Management Systems
  • Nonprofit CRM (Constituent Relationship Management)
  • Free and Open Source Software for Nonprofits
  • Community and Technology

CivicLab co-founder Tom Tresser is going and he’s couch surfing while he’s there! Follow the action on Twitter @ #npdev and #civiclabchicago.

Join Us @ Pumping Station One

How can open source technology, design, and data accelerate social change and community improvement efforts? From Open 311′s city tracking system and the Grassroots Mapping of environmental impacts, to pedal powered electricity and LED banners at protests; design and technology have proven to be robust change agents.

CivicLab is entering the field with an initiative called “Hacks for Activists” (H4A). H4A seeks to build tools that solve common problems plaguing community organizers. We’re looking for activists, designers, coders, open hardware enthusiasts, and anyone with the slightest interest in technology for social change.

Our first meeting is being generously hosted by Pumping Station: One on Thursday Oct 18th, 7:00PM – 9:00PM. Snacks, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages provided! Here’s a few ideas we’re currently exploring but new projects are most welcome:

Sign Me Up: An SMS/web based tool to replace paper sign-up sheets at community organizing meetings.  Crowd Speaker: An application that would leverage participants’ cell phones as a collective public announcement system at rallies.

For more information and notifications about future meetings, you can contact bsugar [at], or visit our web site at

Please sign up on our Eventbrite so we can get an idea of how many to expect:

Attendees who have never been to our space, please sign and bring PS:One’s Liability Release with you. We’ll also have copies available at the site on the night of the meeting.

Join Us For CivicHack Work Session

Join us on Thursday, October 11 at the Multikulti Space from 6:30-830pm for our next civic hack work session.
RSVP using

We are working on three projects:

(1) Apps for Activists – Tools to solve persistent problems of organizing and community improvement efforts. First up on the lab workbench – “Sign Me Up/I’m Here!” tool to let attendees at rallies and public meetings connect with the organizers of the event. NEEDS: coders, web designers, knowledge of SMS messaging.
(2) Activist Speed Networking Night – Social change agents need some help hooking up with resources and allies – so let’s cook up a great evening of meeting, networking and music where people involved in community organizing and issue work can meet people and solve problems. NEEDS: people with special event production experience, graphic designers, commercial printing.
(3) The Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Report – You probably know that TIF’s sucked up $510 MILLION in Chicago property taxes in 2010. But you probably don’t know WHERE that money went and who got helped and who got hurt. Let’s find out. Calling all data hounds, civic coders, map makers, forensic accountants, fiscal policy wonks, good government geeks and neighborhood advocates – let’s pick one ward for a deep dive and really tell the whole TIF story for that community. More about TIFs here. NEEDS: graphic designers, researchers.
WHERE: Multikulti Space, 1000 N. Milwaukee, 4th Floor.
WHEN: Thursday, October 11, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
MORE INFO: [email protected], 312-804-3230