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Forgiveness, Not Permission: Retro-fitting the Semantic Web onto British Democracy
Tom Loosemore, Project Director, BBC2.0, BBC
Stefan Magdalinski, TheyWorkForYou.com

Date: Wednesday, March 16
Time: 4:20pm - 5:05pm
Location: California Ballroom C

The collision between traditional democracy and the semantic web is rich with transformative potential.

In 1803, the UK Parliament began publishing Hansard, a precise record of all its speeches and dealings. Since 1997, Hansard has been posted on www.Parliament.uk under Parliamentary copyright.

However, for the lay reader, the existing online version of Hansard is near-useless. Its size, inpenetrebility, and sheer ugliness succeed in detering most constituents from tracking the activities of their Member of Parliament.

TheyWorkForYou.com is a volunteer-built website which scrapes the Hansard from www.parliament.uk and retrofits it onto a data model of UK Parliamentary democracy, thus enabling all manner of slicing, dicing, and light-shining.

This talk focuses on some tactics and techniques which civic hackers in the UK are using to demonstrate many of the benefits of the semantic web and social software, without first asking permission.

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