“As soon as his name began to resonate in the political sphere, we were able to get a profile up pretty quickly,” says Van Dongen. Freeman’s profile was quickly linked to from The Plum Line, Greg Sargent’s political blog at WhoRunsGov which works hand in hand with the site to chronicle political power in D.C. as it happens.

“It represented the perfect storm of what we were trying to do,” says Van Dongen. “Let the people who know these public figures tell us who they are.”

True to its Wiki-ness, WhoRunsGov will open to public editing in the spring or early summer, allowing anyone to submit changes or additions that will be cleared by an editor before being published live on the site.

LittleSis, too, is still in its beta version, says Matthew Skomarovsky, one of the site’s founders, though it is building a list of contributors, who are called “analysts.” He suggests that this flowering of online projects is both a function of Web sites becoming easier to build, and a reaction to the secretive years of the Bush administration: “When government fails to open itself up, you find that people will open up government.”

Kate Klonick is a journalist in New York City. She has written for ABCNews.com, Esquire, The Guardian, The Washington Independent and Talking Points Memo.