There was a design competition earlier this year (Design For America) about making government data more accessible. While it's too late for that contest, something similar might be fun to do and provide some visibility for the group.
Update - someone gone and did nearly exactly what I was thinking of - http://mapper.nndb.com/ - back to the drawing board. -Andrew
They Rule is a network visualization that shows who sits on various corporate boards and government committees. The idea is to illustrate how companies and government are often connected in an 'old boy' network in ways you might not expect. The data was collected by hand and hasn't been updated since 2004.
I'd like to something similar that is updated automatically. There is tons of data on corporations available from the SEC that could be mined by a robot on a daily basis, and combined with other data (campaign finance data?, news articles?) to extend what They Rule does and keep it continuously updated. I've done something similar at Fuzzy Link Bot with music news. -Andrew
sites for inspiration
- The Information Aesthetics blog is a very good collection of excellent work in visualizations.
- Bestiario is a group out of Barcelona. I adore them because they don't let making sense get in the way of being beautiful. There stuff can be hard to understand, but I think they get at deeper truths and elicit more consideration because of it.
- Flowing Data - another blog with some good examples.
- Slashdot - Could Crowdsourcing Help the SEC Detect Fraud?