Chris has a nice writeup about last nights ChiPy lightning talks. There were tons of interesting people there with very interesting projects. Apart from the announcement that we might be hosting PyCon next year in Chicago, the highlight of the evening for me was hearing about the amazing data hack that is ChicagoCrime. Adrian is a journalist/programmer who managed to glue together GoogleMaps with publicly available data from the Chicago Police Department. The main (perhaps unintended) things I took from his enthusiastic and humorous talk were:

  • screen scraping is fragile but it’s an important lever for fostering more elegant/robust information sharing.
  • screen scraping is fragile but it’s important for building new public applications that aren’t run behind closed doors at the Department of Homeland Security

I really, really want to get going on the GovTrack data scraping now.