a package manager for Westminster 1.4

OpenTech blogging…after this morning’s MySociety brainstorm on the specifications for MPs’ expenses and tracking bills through Parliament, I’m concerned that we’re going to end up with the best imaginable system for monitoring public employees’ expenses, and miss some absolute horror of a thing while our attention is elsewhere. (Is that the latent content of Heather Brooke?)

Certainly, the parliamentary bills tracker is a far more important and interesting project, unashamedly wonkful as it is. It’s a CCTV camera in the sausage factory of legislation; it’s hugely important to be able to monitor the drafting process itself, and correlate it with other sources of data – for example, information on meetings and lobbying extracted through the Freedom of Information Act.

As usual, the meeting ran off after a few minutes as various people came up with their pet idea for sexy graphics; if you can’t insist on MVC architecture at a hacker conference, when can you?

User-generated tagging will be incredibly important; the nature of legislation is that the geographical areas affected aren’t usually explicit, because it acts to change legal status rather than specific spots on the ground. So you need a way to flag which actual places and people will be affected…

Strangely, the longer it was discussed the more it sounded like a Linux package manager, what with the importance of dependencies, supersession, amendment, etc.

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