During the summer I participated in the Young Rewired State Festival of Code, where I wrote a website called “Explain To Us” – designed to make the list of bills currently before parliament less confusing. For example, the “summary” listed on the website is the “long title” from the legal text, as opposed to being clearer more detailed. Explain To Us is a platform which allows members of parliament to upload a short video “pitch” to explain what their bill is about and why it should be given debating time in parliament.
Young Rewired State is an independent global network of young people aged 18 and under who have taught themselves to code. They bring together like-minded peers at events around the world where they use open data to make websites, apps and other solutions to real world challenges. The Festival of Code is an annual celebration of programming held over a week in multiple centres, culminating in a huge showcase weekend where everyone presents their solutions (this year in Plymouth, hosted by Plymouth University).
A Python script interprets the RSS feed for all bills before parliament. It then visits the <link> for each bill, scraping the sponsor information (as this is not included in the RSS feed). HTML pages are then generated, which are served by nginx. In future, I’m planning to automatically email members of parliament (using contact details from TheyWorkForYou) when they submit a new bill asking them to upload a video.
After my initial presentation, I was nominated for “Best In Show” – although sadly I was knocked out by “YouDraw” (who later won Best In Show). Having gained valuable feedback from presenting to the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy and Tracy Green (head of online services at parliament), I’m now intending on building a second beta with more functionality.
If you’d like to work for Mythic Beasts in your gap year, you need to demonstrate how you can use Google to find our jobs page and work the rest out from there.