[data-protocols] New version of Popolo spec for legislative data published

James McKinney james at opennorth.ca
Fri Jul 12 21:39:05 BST 2013

[ Sorry for cross-post (not sure which OKF list is most appropriate). Originally posted to the W3C Open Government Community Group, to which you may subscribe at: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-opengov/ ]

Back in March I announced Popolo, a project to develop open government data specifications, focusing on the legislative branch of government, while remaining useful to a broad set of use cases: http://popoloproject.com/ Since then, it's been used by mySociety in PopIt [1], by the Sunlight Foundation in its municipal data projects [2], and it's making its way into other projects by the Open Knowledge Foundation and others.

Today, I am happy to announce a new version that incorporates the great feedback that I received from members of this list and others. Highlights:

- re-worked memberships to make it easier to describe simple, complex and historical relationships between people and organizations
- re-worked the contact information model to be more flexible and to support a wider variety of use cases
- described more ways to serialize data as JSON, in particular how to embed, for example, memberships on a person object
- added metadata fields to all classes (timestamps and attribution)

In addition to improving the core spec, improvements have been made to the website and related docs:

- significantly re-organized content to make it easier to find what's relevant to you
- added appendices that include a collection of best practices and patterns discovered through the development process

At this point, I would love to get more feedback and participation in the following questions:

1. Is the spec useful to you? For the classes it covers (people, organizations, memberships, contact info), is anything missing? Can you identify any barriers to adoption, or anything you would change?
2. Is it easy for you to find answers to questions you have about the spec? Is the language clear and easy to understand? Is the content presented in an order than makes sense?
3. What next class can be added to the spec to make it more interesting to adopt? Suggestions that have come up previously are: areas (like electoral districts), events, documents and votes.

The current next steps for the project are more or less reflected in the GitHub issue tracker [3] and are based on past comments and feedback, so there is definitely an opportunity for you to help determine the project's priorities.

I'd especially like to thank: James Turk, Paul Tagliamonte, Thom Neale, Eric Mill, Tom Lee (Sunlight Foundation); Matthew Sommerville, Edmund von der Burg, Mark Longair, Tom Steinberg (mySociety); David Moore (Participatory Politics); Robert Cheetham (Azavea); Rufus Pollock (Open Knowledge Foundation); and Phil Ashlock for their feedback, support, promotion, and/or implementation of the specification.

My hope is that, by increasing Popolo's adoption, different groups will not only publish data that is interoperable, but will more easily develop interoperable software components, making it easier for groups with fewer resources to launch websites like http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ or http://www.opencongress.org/.

Link: http://popoloproject.com/



[1] https://github.com/mysociety/popit-api
[2] https://github.com/opencivicdata
[3] https://github.com/opennorth/popolo-spec/issues

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