One of the most useful study aids I used in my college days (before personal computers) was my big set of multi-colored marking pens. I simply learn and understand things better when I copy them out, draw them, map or chart them.
A website that helps people like me better understand who is putting money into California's election campaigns does just that.
Dollar, Dollar, Bill is the nonpartisan off-the-clock hobby of Ryan Hughes, an attorney who works in the office of Assembly Speaker John Perez. The site has been live for just over a month.
The site checks the Secretary of State's campaign finance website three times each hour, grabs the most recent donor, spending and independent expenditure reports, and adds them to the charts for each of the California legislative and ballot measure campaigns. It also Tweets the numbers.
To do this yourself, you'd have to click open a lot of files on a few different places on the Secretary of State's website. For my own research, I still go to the official source where you can download spreadsheets and see the copies of the original documents, but for a quick look at what's happening in the election money battles, this is a quick option.