November 22, 2023

Weak Signals Of Local Civic Democracy

Sharing this life hack* after a random lunchtime conversation with Zarino (who works for mySociety) made me realise it's not necessarily obvious behaviour but might be useful for others.

The What do they know website is an excellent tool to help people submit Freedom of Information requests to public bodies. The fact that the requests and responses are all shared on the web means that the information is shared more widely than it would have been if just shared with the original requester.

On the site there's a page for all requests for each public body. For example, this is the What Do They Know page for Liverpool City Council. More importantly, there's also an RSS feed (strictly speaking an Atom feed, but what do you think this is, 2004?!? ;-) for each body. Sadly it doesn't seem to be linked in the main text on the body's page, but it is in the metadata for the page so your RSS reader's autodiscovery should (hopefully) find it. I use the Want My RSS add-on for Firefox so it just shows up in the address bar on my browser.

That means I can add the feeds for the local council, the local enterprise partnership, universities and NHS trusts and the like to my RSS reader and then have a background source of information about what my fellow citizens care about and see when items I'm interested in float past.

And if you're RSS-curious, check out About Feeds for more details on what RSS is and how to get a reader (I use Thunderbird myself, but that's mostly because I also use that as my email client).

* It's obviously not a "life hack" but I don't have a useful term to describe it :-)

Posted by Adrian at 01:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2023

Interesting Things on the Internet: November 6th 2023 Edition

  • Meta in Myanmar, Part III. The Inside View. Erin Kissane has written an excellent, if disturbing, set of essays (this is the third part, see here for the full series) into how Facebook enabled and wilfully ignored the genocide in Myanmar. They decided they'd rather keep the tens-of-billions of dollars profit than try to tackle the many problems with their platform and apps. They've also been deploying "AI" to try to solve the problem, which manages to flag at best less-than-5% of the hate speech and violent posts. We should bear that in mind when politicians are waving magic AI wands at all manner of problems. We should also shut down or break up Facebook, as they obviously aren't interested in the harm they're causing.
  • Federated Ecovillages & Steps Towards a Modern Cybersyn. I think the Cybersyn angle isn't the right answer, but I think there are useful things we can do with tech to fold into such a solarpunk future.
Posted by Adrian at 02:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack