It’s been a little slow on the blog front this week.
September is busy season for librarians at AU, what with the rise in in-class instruction sessions and requests for early semester research help. Certainly my on-campus schedule has taken a turn for the hectic — so you can imagine it takes a pretty awesome database to bring me back to the world of the virtual, pre-October.
First Street is, indeed, an awesome new addition to our library’s list of online databases — particularly for COMM faculty and students who are interested in public communication, political communication, or data visualization. It is, in sum, a “political intelligence platform,” or interactive tool for visualizing the many types of relationships that shape U.S. policy.
Users of First Street can literally “connect the dots” between various entities surrounding a piece of legislation, including but not limited to:
- 240,000 congressional and federal staffers;
- 43,000 registered lobbyists;
- 31,000 FEC PACs;
- 7,000 registered lobbying organizations and their 33,0000 clients; and
- 18,000 congressional and federal organizations.
With over 10,000 pieces of legislation entered to date, this makes First Street home to a map of over 2 million direct connections — most of which it renders quite beautifully in its “Coalition Builder” sub-tool.
While this Builder takes some getting used to — it can be slow to render, and quickly gets mind-bogglingly complex (rather like policy research itself) — it’s still a fascinating feature, and well worth exploring with the help of FirstStreet’s video tutorials.
For those less interested in FirstStreet’s visual tools — the database also facilitates traditional text searches, and includes FEC data and filings from 1993 to present.
Check out FirstStreet by visiting the Library’s Databases A-Z page, or by clicking here (AU authentication required).