March 17, 2005

Forgiveness, not permission: Retro–fitting the Semantic Web onto British Democracy

Writing about web page http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/et2005/view/e_sess/5947

Stefan Magdalinsky

  • hansard went online about 1997
  • it's website is utterly utterly lame
  • TheyWorkForYou.com are trying to fix some of this by grabbing the output of hasard and re-purposing it
  • They parse hansard text and create hyperlinks – e.g. to people, wikipedia, a user-defined glossary
  • exposes RSS for everything to allow other people to build on top of it
  • supports email alerting for all kinds of events
  • generates voting records for each MP
  • link in the register of interest for each MP

  • In theory parliamentary copyright doesn't allow reuse that may bring parliament into disrepute – but in practice they backed off from issuing a cease & desist about unmoderated comments

  • runs on LAMP (except with F-BSD).
  • Input files are very dirty HTML with no semantic markup
  • parse process works by maintaining a set of diff patches against each day's record to clean up textual errors
  • gathering the stats picks up errors in hansard that would otherwise go uncorrected


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