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Wrap Up: A Hackathon Here at the White House

We invited our We the People Write API beta testers here to the White House for a hackathon as part of the second annual National Day of Civic Hacking.

Here at the White House, we've been busy working to develop a Write API for We the People, our online petitions platform.

The API (which stands for Application Programming Interface) is a set of methods that will eventually allow people to sign White House petitions using new technologies, and on sites other than While We the People already has more than 14 million users, we want to open up the platform -- and make it even easier to petition the White House.

That's why, last week, we invited our Write API beta testers here to the White House for a hackathon -- a chance for civically minded technologists, developers, and open-data enthusiasts to code projects based on the API -- as part of the second annual National Day of Civic Hacking.

Hackathon at the White House

Our beta participants came from across the country to work on their projects here at the White House. It's always incredible to see what people build with the tools and technologies we release, and this hackathon was no exception. We saw some truly amazing demos at the end of the day -- integrations with existing third-party sites, plugins for popular website platforms, and innovative ways to sign and organize around petitions.

Check out the Storify to see more from the event, and stay tuned for more announcements about the API:

The Write API we’re working to develop, when released, will complement our already-released Read API -- which has provided powerful new tools to anyone who wants to analyze the data behind We the People. You can learn more about that here.

Sound interesting? Click here to apply for the Write API beta.

Check out some of the projects from the hackathon here and on GitHub:

  • - an analytics dashboard, including tools to chart signatures over time, map signature locations, and assess social media reach. 
  • R We the People is a package for the R statistics environment. It allows users to load petition data, run ad-hoc analysis, and create exploratory visualizations. Examples include word clouds of petition text, and summaries of the issues over time. 
  • We the Entities adds rich entities, sentiment analysis, and other text-based analysis on We the People petitions. 
  • Petitions Newslink: An application tracking public engagement by linking news items to We the People petitions. 
  • We the People Gem: This tutorial walks Ruby developers through the process of installing and using Jeremy McAnally's We the People Ruby Gem
  • We the People WordPress plugin allows you to Easily embed We The People petitions into your WordPress site via shortcodes and widgets. 
  • API Module for Node.js simplifies access to the API for developers using that platform.
  • Google Spreadsheet Integration lets you search and process petition data directly through Google Spreadsheets.
  • Petition Kicker pulls petitions from We The People and shows the ones that are closest to the response threshold.
  • Pulse is a dashboard that predicts when petitions will cross the 100,000 signature threshold.
  • Instant Search provides an autocomplete search of We the People petition using Twitter's typeahead.js library and integrates sentiment analysis from the We the Entities and We the Visualization.
  • Where the People can be used to generate visualizations of where a given petition's signatures came from, with signatures displayed as a percentage of population at the county level.