[@OKau] Fwd: Your Civic Tech Monthly, August 2015

Steven De Costa steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au
Thu Aug 20 07:28:36 UTC 2015

Heya folks,

For those who have already RSVP'd to the CKAN meetup it will be great to
catch up.  It's cool to also have some extra promo for the event as per the
newsletter below.

Anyhoo... Come along if you can! It should be a lot of fun combined with
some good info and connections.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: *OpenAustralia Foundation* <contact at oaf.org.au>
Date: Thursday, August 20, 2015
Subject: Your Civic Tech Monthly, August 2015
To: steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au

Welcome to the latest edition of Civic Tech Monthly. View this email in
your browser

Welcome to the seventh edition of Civic Tech Monthly. Below you’ll find
news and notes about civic tech from Australia and around the world.

It seems like August has been a busy month for civic hackers everywhere
because this month we’ve got a bunch of new projects from around the world
for you.

As always we’d love to see you at the OpenAustralia Foundation Sydney Pub
next Tuesday if you’re in town. Last month’s lightning talks and new venue
in Surry Hills were a big success. We’re doing it all again this month so
come along and tell us something interesting in civic tech you’ve seen or

If you know someone who’d like this newsletter, pass it on:

News and Notes   Introduction to Web Scraping Workshop in Sydney

Join us in Sydney in two weeks time to learn how to write a web scraper.
You can use a scraper to quickly grab all kinds of information for analysis
and processing. Scrapers are the backbone of OpenAustralia Foundation
projects such as They Vote For You and PlanningAlerts—we’re always finding
new ways that scrapers can help, and we’re keen to share this skill. You
can find out more and register via our blog post

This is a hands-on, half-day workshop and by the afternoon you will have
written a web scraper. Tickets are $295 and the workshop is in Redfern,
Sydney on Friday the 4th of September. You will need a laptop and some
programming experience to attend but you don’t have to be an expert. If you
know what a variable, loop and array are, then this is for you.

This is a new experiment for the OpenAustralia Foundation. We’re trying out
a new approach to help people who want to make their own projects. If you
can’t make the workshop, but know someone who might be interested, we’d
really appreciate if you could pass this along.
  Thank you Tom

It was Tom Steinberg’s last day at mySociety
earlier this month. He’s made a huge contribution to civic tech everywhere.
It’s been our absolute pleasure to work with him over the years and we’d
like to especially thank him for being generous with his advice whenever we
asked. We can’t wait to see what he gets up to after his chillax and we
wish him very well.

We also love this delightfully mad post from the excellent Francis Irving
celebrating Tom and all the other amazing people that have contributed to
mySociety over the years - “Those brief moments when winning seems possible
  Soft launch of Freedom of Information Portal for Malaysia

You can now use Malaysia’s first Freedom of Information portal
to ask their governments for information. Of course it’s built on Alaveteli

By law, we have Freedom of Information Enactments (FOIE) in the following
two states: Selangor & Penang. However, we have also added the avenue to
request for information from Public Authorities not covered by FOI in order
to gauge what citizens want to know at the Federal level.

This is a nice example of one of the Civic Patterns
we like to follow at OAF: “When designing a service, make your process
reflect the legal rules that you wish existed, instead of those that do.
Reality will catch up.”
  Yo Quiero Saber 2015

This month Argentines got to compare the basic positions of candidates
using a simple game
First you have to state your position on an issue, then the you see the
positions of the candidates. This dynamic leads you through to see where
you stand on a range of issues compared to to all the candidates.

The feedback so far is that people felt informed and used it to pick
candidates that better represented their views. Martín Szyszlican, one of
the creators, says
they’ll keep running and developing the project, and that the big challenge
is to reach more people. This time they had over 1% of voters, doubling
their audience in 2013, but not enough to impact election results.
  Help work out the gender balance of 100 parliaments

Which country has the highest proportion of women in parliament? Do women
vote differently on issues like defence, the environment, or maternity
benefits? Exactly when did women come into power in different countries,
and did their presence change the way the country was run? Frustratingly,
these are questions for which it’s difficult to provide an answer, because
the objective data just isn’t there … So we created Gender Balance, an easy
game that crowd-sources gender data across every parliament in the world.

Believe it or not, but you can have fun, learn about your parliament, and
generate useful open data all at the same time. Get to it!
  OpenPlanning Launches in Hampshire, UK

Hampshire Hub
have teamed up with mySociety
to prototype a tool to demystify the local planning process. This is a new
take on making local planning records more useful. You can read more in Ben
Nickolls blog post on the project

In excellent open source fashion, this prototype is forked from
the OpenAustralia Foundation’s PlanningAlerts
which in turn is based the UK’s original planningalerts.com. As
civicpatterns.org says “Don’t Reinvent The Wheel”

It looks like the team is considering
how to merge some of their upgrades back into PlanningAlerts.org.au, which
would be truly fantastic.
  Dare to talk about your civic tech mistakes — submit your failure story

In a small room full of friends, talking about failure should be easy. But
for some reason — maybe because of the relative novelty of using more
expensive technologies for social innovation — people working around civic
technology are not used to admitting when their projects don’t work. And
while this sort of dishonesty might help with short-term opportunities
(especially when it comes to funding), it has a serious effect on long-term
sustainability: We cannot learn from our mistakes.

Tell the Sunlight Foundation about your unsuccessful projects
so they can work out the patterns and help us all improve our work.
  CKAN meetup
and Hacks/Hackers in Sydney

In more Sydney event news, after the scraping workshop we can walk down to the
CKAN meetup
There’ll be lots of people with experience working with and publishing open

Hacks/Hackers is also back on in Sydney. The next meetup, Data Journalism
and Investigations in Political Reporting
is on Wednesday evening, September 16. You should give a lightning talk if
you’re in town.
  How far does your MP tread the party line?

You can greatly improve or reduce the usability of a resource just by
changing its text. This is an interesting post
about the impact of wording in a civic tech site and how the TheyWorkForYou
team approached improving it.
  101 web scraping and research tasks for the data journo (or civic hacker)

If you want to learn scraping or polish your skills (and can’t make it to our
;-) ) then here’s 101 tasks to keep you busy
  Help develop the Influence Mapping Toolbox

You can help the development of new tools
to map the role of personal ties and economic interests in politics. If you
have an influence mapping project, or are interested in getting one
started, you can help the team with their initial research and shape
development of their new tools. You’ll also find lots of interesting
discussion on the topic of influence mapping at the Influence Mapping
Google Group

The Civic Tech Monthly is available for you to share, remix, mashup and
whatever else you can come up with under a Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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