"When the government makes data available in a structured format, it opens the doors to innovative and enlightening remixes of information known as mashups. Mashups are tools that can potentially be used by journalists, bloggers, and citizens—the Internet’s intelligent crowds—to better scrutinize government’s activities. When government does not make data available online, or makes it available but not in a structured format, third parties take it upon themselves to fill the void by implementing ingenious hacks."Another initiative that could help to make some of the information tied up in large databases more available is the Google sitemapping initiative. (I just noticed that Google has added some new developer tools)
One of the things I'll try to do over the next few days is try to identify the ten most useful government RSS feeds and the top ten government mashups. Brito mentions some private sites that are mashing up federal government data, such as Metavid, created by UC Santa Cruz.