Simon Willison’s Weblog

They Work For You

Today is/was (you never can tell with these wretched time zone differences) NotCon 2004, London’s premiere low-cost, informal, one-day technology conference. Friday’s MiniNTK promised the unveiling of a new project from the people behind FaxYourMP and PublicWhip and sure enough, here it is: TheyWorkForYou.com.

TheyWorkForYou.com is the finest example of a political hack I’ve ever seen. It’s basically an ultra-user-friendly front-end to the Hansard public record of all speeches and debates in the houses of commons, with each MP getting their own page complete with a summary of their recent performance and member’s interests and a list of their recently recorded parliamentary appearances.

The community features are pretty impressive as well: you can add comments to any speech made in any debate, and there’s also a user-populated glossary which is automatically linked in to the speech transcripts.

But with all that, the most useful feature is probably the most subtle: you can subscribe to an RSS feed of your MP’s appearances, meaning you can keep track of everything they say on your behalf. It’s simple, powerful and a perfect example of the political hacker ethic at work.

This is They Work For You by Simon Willison, posted on 6th June 2004.

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Previously hosted at http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2004/06/06/theyWorkForYou