[…] the idea is to offer the data in one of several standardized formats, ranging from a simple text file that can be read by a spreadsheet program to the XML format widely used these days for the exchange of information between Web services. Other data is presented in formats that are meant to feed into mapping programs.
The value of this, of course, is that when information is made available this way, then anyone can analyze it or write a program to do so.
I know everyone has an opinion about Obama, but you have to admit, he’s pushing some exciting things through in terms of real-time communications from the White House and accessibility to information. I don’t know how much influence he had on this particular site, but things like this aren’t something we would have imagined 10 years ago.