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
Myf NClift: 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.
Myf NYourNextMP 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 LAnyone 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 NGoing 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 LThis 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 abigger project on the dev plan.
Myf NMartin 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 LMark: 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 constituencyhttp://twittelection.co.uk/.
Myf NWe 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.
Note: We will highlight other mini-grants/projects each meetup.
Pop-it in Malaysia - Sinar
Myf NWe 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 nWe 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 NIcan 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.