06/21/2011 03:12 pm ET | Updated Aug 21, 2011

Sunlight Foundation Launches New 'Inbox Influence' Tool

As longtime readers know, I love me some Sunlight Foundation. Especially the way they continue to create simple tools to penetrate the hidden world of political influence. And it's not just the tools themselves, it's the values that underpin their efforts. The Sunlight Foundation believes that ordinary people should have the means at their disposal to hold politicians accountable. And their latest innovation, "Inbox Influence," is their coolest tool yet.

Inbox Influence is a new tool from the Sunlight Foundation that allows you to see the political contributions of the people and organizations that are mentioned in emails you receive. This easy-to-use tool can be used for researching influence background on corporate correspondence, adding context to newspaper headlines or discovering who is behind political fundraising solicitations.

Inbox Influence provides details on any entity in the body of the email, plus information on both the sender of the email and the company from which it was sent. With it, you can even see how your friends and family have given to political campaigns. Perhaps Uncle Joe has more mainstream views after all?

If you have Gmail, you can use Inbox Influence. And as Sunlight's demonstration video shows, the tool is simple, elegant, and for all the detail it puts at your fingertips, it's remarkably unobtrusive.

Sometimes, I think that the future might not be so confusing and terrible!

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