Watching the Press
The growth of blogging and social networking has given readers a way to challenge some of the disinformation that is published by the press every day. We'll look at some of the projects which are shining lights where newspapers would rather they weren't shone and highlight some examples of press inaccuracies. Some of them will make you laugh. Some of them will make you angry.
SEO Kung Fu Spotlight
Previously, to shine a light in dark corners, you needed to cooperation of a publisher or broadcaster or someone working for them. Now you can do it onyour own, but it is foolish to expect that you can reach the same number(s) of people as these outdated behemoths, or even that you need to. Besides, they lie about their numbers, just as those who copy them do. Keeping an MP honest, for example, starts with an audience of one. This will be an entertaining talk on political impacts. The Commercial version is one you can pay Tim for: http://www.bloggerheads.com/seo-...
OpenCorporates :: Building an open global database the distributed way
OpenCorporates has one simple (but big) goal, to have a URL for every company in the world, to allow campaigners, journalists and governments match their existing messy data with the actual real-world corporate entities, and connect the data together. But we could never do this alone, and fortunately with the help of some cool tools, a few small bounties, and a fantastic community, we're not having to, and already we've got over 8 million companies in over a dozen jurisdictions. Here's how we did it.
what does the government spend money on?
It's an innocent enough question: What does the government spend money on? Now, I'm not an accountant and I'm not a statistician and personally I don't have a political axe to grind, I just want some answers to this question that make sense. This attitude gives me a lot of freedom: I don't have to get bogged down in any system of understanding spending unless it really helps. But this attitude also gives me a lot of opportunity, because I'm effectively feeling my way around this unfamiliar financial and political world, pushing for information that may or may not be useful in the end, asking questions that must seem really stupid to experts. But what does the Government spend money on?
Police State UK: open source citizen journalism
Helen Lambert & Denny de la Haye
Police State UK is a news and opinion website covering UK civil liberties (politics, policing, and the sometimes worrying relationship between them). The website runs on an open source content management system called YAWNS, written in Perl and running on Linux and Apache. We have an open content policy, encouraging readers to contribute articles. Although most of the content is written by us, we have had some excellent contributions from others - including articles from serving politicians and practising lawyers. We also run a successful Twitter account - probably more successful than the website itself in fact, with over 5,000 followers and counting. Recent events have seen us publishing a lot of articles on the right to protest, but we've also covered subjects such as ID cards, DNA retention, RIPA, CCTV and more - our areas of interest are broad, and we're particularly interested in how many of these issues seem to come back to similar attitudes on the part of the state. We report what's happening in Parliament, on the streets, and in posh Westminster policy seminars (we're still not sure how we got on that invite list).
"Ignorance of the law is no excuse". Yet, despite advances in opening up statute law, case law - which interprets frequently vague legislation and sets binding precedents - remains strangely limited in its availability. This project works to make case law genuinely accessible and usable. It also creates a platform for investigating case law as data: what can we uncover about the quality of legislation, or the likelihood of judicial error? In this way we hope to shine a light into some of the dark and dusty corners of the British justice system.
21st May 2011