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Paul Lenz

915 days ago
Steven C Agenda 
  • Introductions - 10 min
  • Quick greetings from Tom (Paul, in Tom’s absence) and Pablo/FCI
Myf N
  • Welcome to everyone, great to see so many people on the call. Tom will be joining us if he can but he's travelling in London right now.
Steven C
  • Hello from participants - Name, Org, Place
Myf N
  • Paul (mySociety)
  • Gemma (mySociety) - Events organiser, based in UK, helps with outreach and events organisation
  • Dave (mySociety) - International team at mysoc, met some at Popluscon, working on Alaveteli documentation right now
  • Myf (mySociety) - Communications and Marketing for mySociety
  • Martín (Congreso Interactivo) (Argentina) co-ordinator and lead dev at CI, using Poplus components
  • Mark (mySociety) Developer for mySoc, working on parliaments team using PopIt and Poplus components, uses Pombola for PMO sites mostly in sub-Saharan Africa
  • James (calendar project) in Scotland, working on Open Data 
  • Chee Leong (Sinar Project)
  • Jen (mySociety) International projects with Paul and Dave, met lots of you already virtually or IRL
  • sweemeng (Sinar Project) Works with CL in Malaysia
  • Steve Clift Minneapolis with NGO called edemocracy, proactively engaged via mySoc to foster communications online
  • Meron Menwyelet (NDI) Washington, DC 
  • Duncan Parkes (mySociety) Based in Lampeter West Wales, UK working on Sayit sorting out documentation to import AN from Popit, helping FCI guys on WriteIt this week, and working with Tony to make database of all the reps there are in the whole world Open Politicians. Nothing to show yet but will be at openpoliticians.com.
  • Felipe and Pablo from FCI - Santiago Chile, working with several projects in Chile and some in other Latin American countries.
  • Zarino (mySociety) designer, here to listen and observe as he's recently been working on PopIt and YourNextMP
Yuan C
  • Ly (g0v.tw) Developer, Taiwan
Myf N Clift: Been a while since we had a full group connection, we had too many people last time and had a live IRC session, after that we broke into committees, but this is the first time our voices are all back together.
It's good for us to link up and hear what's going on across the network, it's important to be friendly and accessible too. Just an informal catch-up.
In Feb we hope to have more of a showcase and more formal presentations of recent projects.
Steven C
  • Showcase Presenters (proposed) - 15 min
  • YourNextMP - Mark
Myf N YourNextMP is based on PopIt components which mySociety has been developing for some time (PopIt + MapIt)
PopIt stores names of people and organisations and the relationships between them. It's primarily intended for politicians, but can be used for all types of data: one example might be cycling teams.
In the UK we have a General Election in May of this year. There's a problem in that there's no fixed candidate list until about 10 days before the election. Typically this is in PDF format and there's no guarantee it's machine readable - a problem if you want to make election more open and transparent e.g. make a site for all Twitter traffic relating to one constituency or any project that asks questions of a candidate
mySociety has been working with organisation called Democracy Club, who are all volunteers, It restarted after an initial version for the 2010 election. Now Sym Roe and Will Moy are the main protaganists, hoping to make the election as open and transparent as possible and help people get the facts about what their candidate stands for - which needs accurate data
We thought we'd just use the PopIt web interface and create accounts for anyone who wanted to edit, and let them add details of candidates and where they are standing but quickly found that the interface was too flexible - it allows you to express all kinds of different relations between people and organisations.
With thousands of candidates, we would need to do some crowd sourcing and letting people edit the database in that way was going to create problems, since we need to limit what they can express in this very narrow domain
Popit being a component, gives you an HTTP-based API. We created a simple front end using the API to update the PopIt database: it's restricted, so it allows people to see a list of candidates from  the last election and tick yes or no they are standing again, or add completely new candidates. (It always asks you to record "How do you know that?")
It's a Django project, a useful exercise to try a use case for PopIt and we improved some things in PopIt as a result.  Now over 2,000 candidates, we think the data's of good quality, over half way to roughly the number who stood in the last election
Mark L Anyone with social log in or confirmed email address can make edits, so we need to record changes - on top of the basic Popolo data model every version of the candidate's details is recorded and  and you can revert malicious edits. 
Myf N Going quite well, we have been thinking about what stops people make mailicious edits? So for example we made it so that you can't upload pictures directly. Are images more likely to be used like this? We are doing it by hand but might introduce a private moderation queue.
That's a brief introduction any qs?
Andres: We have the same issue - trying to edit content from many different users - maybe should write to Mark to ask specific questions.
Mark: Yes, that would be welcome. At the moment we take one person's API and every edit is being made with that one user ID and each politician's record has versions, an array of every version of that person's information. It's a slightly odd Django project as originally it didn't have a relational database at all, it was just GET, PUT and POST to PopIt from the views, but we did need a database for extra-PopIt information, e.g. keeping a log of what actions people have taken, login credentials, also used for the leaderboard on the front page to encourage others to contribute.
Q: Do you cache the last version?
Mark: (Sorry, I misunderstood this question!) The versioning is v simple, for each updated version we privately the IP address but the name of the user, the date goes into PopIt, also we generate a random ID for that commit and a reduced form of the data from which we could recreate the entire record. 
The problem is we wanted to have something simple without rebuilding the whole git data model within PopIt so at the moment the versions are linear, first in time to last in time with representation of state at that time. 
Mark L This was fine until we needed to add merging of candidate records: this is a common need as users don't always realise there's an existing record for the person. Merging two people means joining two linear histories - at the moment we're appending into one list. Built-in versioning in PopIt is a bigger project on the dev plan.
Myf N Martin from CI: would like to Implement YourNextMP for Argentina and maybe Guatemala and could we do a call especially for anyone who's interested in using it, to look at how it might be localised.
Clift: Are there others who might be interested in using this in your own country? Minnesota would be. Great to get involved with candidates before they become rigid in their views, early in the campaigning process.
Are we finding that people are coming to us with solid reuse proposals? 
Mark L Mark: Yes, there's been interest from traditional media orgs, big social media sites and so on. Examples: a news article on the gender diversity of candidates based on our data; also there's already been a site using the data to show all the tweets per constituency http://twittelection.co.uk/
Myf N We have a good chance of being a better alternative than the commercial databases. Other projects, linking Electionleaflets project with a database of everything candidates have published in their own constituencies. Many of these projects are only just getting off the ground so we hope that next time we'll have more to report.
Clift: You can add ideas via Github so feel free to add your own ideas to the various Poplus Components.
Steven C
  • Note: We will highlight other mini-grants/projects each meetup.
  • Pop-it in Malaysia - Sinar
Myf N We use PopIt and it's a good idea to have interchangable data standard so we can share right now we're recently acquired citable data from newspapers and in process of getting more data about MPs and cleaning up, merging some of the details. Politician tracker in project being planned for quite a while for other people to make use of the project output - to track politicians when they are in the news, could be useful for journalists. 
Join with (group?) for new MyMP projects, still writing to Poplus about using PopIt, some caching tools for PopIt, hopefully components can be re-used for other users as well. And a custom version of the UI.
sweemeng n We hope that with PopIt and etc, will form the underlying infrastructure for other apps, API and the data. The idea is so that different groups will focus on the the more valuable work for example approaching people, the idea so they can use the data and application in a meaningful way for the issues they care about and not building the underlying backend from scratch. 
Myf N I can foresee that Poplus will be a big part of what we'll be using in future, We might introduce some tools that we used to have for others to use. We also hope to attend and organize some conference,  we already engaging via an unconference in February with NGOs in the country  - let's make sure that's included in the communications calendar/events list.
-- Most of our tools will be some lock in proxies, caching etc can be reusable so we'll be sharing them once they have been properly cleaned up.
Clift: You received a mini grant and some broader funding that is allowing you to create a wider project?
Yes - this year the funding allowed for developers, programme officers etc and we could spend more time on actually running the project as well as developing. Not just tools for us, but tools that we can share with other groups.
From Chile: With Tony Bowden we have started coding WriteIt so we can make integration between PopIt and WriteIt, wanted to make it really straightforward to make one instance out of the other. Also in the short term to integrate with Cuttlefish from the Open Australia foundation which works really well, we've already integrated it with some of our projects, will be writing to the group soon to update everyone.
999 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Paul Lenz 999 days ago
Meeting Wednesday 29th October 13:00 BST hangout link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/c168ad5hg74rsant4rm4pc3ge6c (Please note, this is a perpetual hangout and will work EVERY meeting)
4) Go over milestones and progress (10 mins)
Paul L
  • i) 4 by the end of December 2014
  • ii) 2 further by the end of March 2015
1082 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Paul Lenz , Steven Clift , Nicolas Cristi 1082 days ago
Paul L Notes from the call:
a) Proposed that we combine the governance and finance committees - agreed that it makes sense.  Action: PL to mail out to group
b) Keep to one call every two weeks for the time being, but if call doesn't take place due to attendance challenges don't reschedule - skip the call
c) Propose that there is a chair for each committe - agreed by the committee - to oversee the admin of the committee - arrange calls, make sure that things get done
d) The budget was disccused - agreed to come up with a "Stretch"  / Blue Sky scenario on there as well
e) Micro-grants were discussed - opening up for individuals or groups to apply for technical development support:  https://docs.google.com/a/mysociety.org/forms/d/1s0vJ2tDugRhqc74HQ39kmQpQ8noK8WF3R-wLFbyfToE/edit  Action - PL to share with the team in finance committe call minutes.  PL to send out dedicated email - call to action for groups who may want to contribute to future grants etc
Window for applications of fours weeks
1g) (Steven) [comms] Use of the word "activist" on front page of poplus.org
Steven C 1f) (Steven) Introducing Poplus to Knight Foundation - Introduced via email, unable to meet as planned in Chicago, John Bracken agreed to take a look - seeking indication of their interest in teleconference meet and greet with project leaders and Knights open gov team  (on a related note, I introduced it to the Smart Chicago Collaborative yesterday and think MacArthur Foundation should also be on our introductions radar)
Paul L 1.5 (sorry not sure how to make this into a heading that ties in with the number scheme) - Practical organisation and strategic questions:
1.5sa) - Following on from the governance call it was proposed:
  • a) That the Finance Committee and the Gov committee combine to form a single steering committee that has reps from all of the other committees on it
  • b) That Events and Comms similarly merge as there seems to be a lot of cross-over here
  • c) We define a couple of simple, short terms goals to focus our efforts over the next couple of months - e.g. get four new, high-profile sites launched that use components - good for awareness, good for the community and a good demo for fundraisers
We now have a good idea of what the committees want and how much those things cost. An "everything" budget for 2015 would be $340,000. See the Poplus Budget Sheet. This includes a full-time facilitator, 15 exchanges, one global conference, four regional conferences, and a marketing and communications budget.
(Gemma) We have a list of upcoming events which we think Poplus members should go to. However, when current members aren't going anyway, we don't have any funds to help get them there. E.g. The GoOpen conference in Norway has asked someone from Poplus to speak, and some members are interested in going, but are unable to self-fund. Should we have funds for this purpose? 
Steven C (Steve) I think we are lacking a blue sky vision of what this could be beyond the core budget for coordination and engagement of better resourced civic tech groups that are leveraging far larger budgets. I want to inspire potential funders that this will bring new developers into the global sharing mix from a far more distributed base of cities and countries. If we agree that this our core budget for Poplus federation maintenance and relationship building so we can seek more or less 25-50K quick discretionary contributions from typical big funders as an easier seeding ask, I can go for that. However, the real fun of having Poplus reach millions more people via far more orgs and developers in many new places is in my view a 3-5 year effort needing hundreds of thousands of dollars if not a couple million.
    (Paul) Large funding organisations
Paul L
  •     Core funding support for the Poplus organisation.  I have highlighted some cells in the budget document, but I think that the ask stretches to covering the costs of a facilitator + marketing ($80k pa) through paying for a global conference (total cost now $160k pa) through to covering all of the core budget costs ($170k pa)
    (Nicolas) Embassy / Foreign Offices / State Departments
Nicolas C
  •     Normally Embassy have found for local organizations, to found from local activities up to flight tickets to/from their home country. The amounts to fund and the topics that have priority depends of the person in charge in each embassy. For example in UK embassy in Chile last year civic society participation was the main issue, today as the person changed the new topic is environmental sustainability. The big opportunity with this entities is to bring participants to local workshops or to take them to a workshop in their home country. 
    (Nicolas) Local gov - e.g. municipality funding a hackathon
  •     Municipality in Chile are more likely to give products to an activity more than free funds. For example for Populosaurio (populosaurio.cl) one Municipality is going to give all the marketing products for the project, to print documents, and more products that they can put inside their budget.

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