Library Notes for Political Science

Teaching resources, news, and links to keep McGill’s Political Scientists informed

Openparliament.ca

Posted by Megan on April 19, 2010

Excerpted from aToronto Sun article:

The computer geeks who manage all the information that flows through Parliament Hill every day are working quickly to make that data more accessible to everyday Canadians. And a new website launched this week, openparliament.ca, is already taking advantage of it to give Canadians a peek at the inner workings of their government.

According to David Eaves, a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen’s University, transcripts from the House of Commons, MP bios, committee calendars and other information will be made available in a convenient XML format before the end of 2010. XML is a web-based language for easily manipulating and sharing documents across any platform

The change will allow citizens the opportunity to aggregate and present information from Canada’s government in new and interesting ways, making it more accessible to Canadians. That’s what Montreal web designer Michael Mulley had in mind when he started openparliament.ca.

“I was, somewhat idly, looking around for info on my MP,” he said. “It was all out there, but not too easy to track down or look through. I thought ‘I could do a better job.’”

The result of his work has drawn more than 15,000 visitors since it launched on April 12. Openparliament.ca lets users browse aggregate profiles of their MPs, read what they’ve said in the House of Commons and view their voting records all with a couple of clicks. Visitors can also scan through bills currently before the House and view debate on any of them.

“These days, for information to be properly available, it needs to be machine readable,” he said. “It’s often the most cost-effective way to make data they have useful: release it and people like me, and there are more out there, will be willing and even eager to build on it.”

Hat tip: Resource Shelf

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