Google Donates $3.7 Million to Foster Open Government Data Standards
G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College, said that Google's funding is very welcome in this endeavor. "I think it's wonderful to have more and more use of technology to promote information about politics and government around the world," Madonna told eWEEK. "In the last 10 years, there's been a renewed interest around the world in American politics. I regularly meet with people from British, Japanese and other embassies to talk about American politics. We are no longer disconnected as nations. We are all part of a huge international community." That means that finding new ways to engage the world's citizens is critical, he said. "So the approach is literally that one of the only ways you can reach hundreds of millions of people almost immediately is through the use of these technologies," he said. "So what's not to like about that? We can learn more about the international community, and they can learn about us. It promotes the understanding of international culture."Google has been very active in disseminating information about elections, polling places and other civic information in the United States in the last few years.In October 2012, Google released a new Voter Information Tool Website to help voters find information about just about everything they need to know about the last year's general elections in the United States. The site included information about where voters could register, where they could cast their ballots and about the candidates on the ballots. The tool allowed users to enter their address to find information on their polling place, early voting locations, ballot information with links to candidates' social media sites, and voting rules and requirements in their voting districts. It's not the first time recently that Google has come up with cool innovations aimed at the nation's upcoming 2012 elections. Also last October, Google created the ability for online users to hold virtual presidential debate-watching parties that allowed them to "watch" one of the debates between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney inside a Google+ Hangout where their friends could also gather. The Oct. 16, 2012, event, which was created by Google's YouTube unit, allowed groups of friends to watch the event live while sharing snarky comments online. The first presidential and vice presidential debates were both streamed live on network television as well as online, including on YouTube's Election Hub site. The virtual debate-watching parties came just two months after YouTube unveiled its YouTube Elections Hub, where voters can visit to view streaming video of the candidates and races through Election Day on Nov. 6, 2012. The site covered streaming video of both the Republican and Democratic national conventions and included videos of a wide range of political events since the conventions.