TheyWorkForYou.com, launched yesterday at “NotCon”:http://notcon04.com/ is a great example of barn-building by the energetic community of public-spirited, capable, policy wonk/tech geeks here in the UK. It takes the speeches in Parliament and breaks them down by speaker allowing things like commenting to or linking to specific passages and monitoring what a member of parliament says about a subject. It also includes lots of useful links to data about each MP like what organizations are paying them to consult for them.
Cory “called it”:http://www.boingboing.net/2004/06/06/theyworkforyou_fines.html the ‘finest advocacy web-app in the world’. I wouldn’t go that far. It doesn’t really demystify the political process here in the UK – it doesn’t explain what the connection is between the speeches in Parliament and what gets done (if indeed there is one) so it is likely still to appeal most to policy wonks and it doesn’t cover select committees where (I gather) a lot of what parliamentary power is left is exercised. Nonetheless considering the fact it was coded by a small team in their spare time it’s pretty impressive. Definitely worth a look if you are interested in tracking UK politics.
Best of all, the whole project is open source and they encourage feedback and creative re-use of their work so if you want to help them build more features or want to take the framework and apply it to (for example) the European parliament, the House of Lords or the workings of your local council you are encouraged to do so.