They’re working for us (dot org)

By Nick Holmes on March 26, 2008
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Filed under Democracy, Public Sector Information, Society

The folks at mySociety are really moving on Society 2.0. mySociety is a charity which builds natty Web 2.0 sites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives. It also aims to teach the public and voluntary sectors, through demonstration, how to most efficiently use the internet to improve lives.

The most mature project to date is TheyWorkforYou which makes sense of Hansard and enables you to keep tabs on what your MP is saying and doing in your name. To further this cause they have now launched a Free our Bills campaign – a “Nice Polite Campaign to Gently Encourage Parliament to Publish Bills in a 21st Century Way, Please. Now.”

Bills are, like, so much more important than what MPs spend on furniture.

The problem is that the way in which Bills are put out is completely incompatible with the Internet era, so nobody out there ever knows what the heck people are actually voting for or against. We need to free our Bills in order for most people to be able to understand what matters about them.

Head on over and support the campaign.

Another mySociety project still very much in its infancy is the FoI request helper site WhatDoTheyKnow – lifting the lid on the UK public sector.

Far from the arcane world of Parliamentary bills and PSI is the mySociety project concerning your blocked mains, fly tipping, dangerous pavement slabs and all those other things that are wrong with your street. Got a problem with yours? Nip over to FixMyStreet and report it; in my experience you’ll get a reply from your council pronto. And of course you can take a peek at the problems your neighbours have reported and comment on them and even set up a feed to alert you to local problems. Why on earth would you do this? Well, it’s a lot more efficient in resolving your own problems than wading through your council’s website red tape; it’s informative about what’s happening in your community and it’s fun!