måndag 28 mars 2016

Portal site to blogs by municipality-politicians

During a period of less than a year I was an active municipality-politician with a place in the strategy committee of the City Council. It was an interesting time and I learned a lot about the politics of the municipality that I really hadn't had a clue about before. It was also a really frustrating time, feeling that I never had enough time to study the matters brought up in the committee that I should have an opinion about to be able to know how to vote. The majority of the municipality-politicians have to do their politic work at their free time and that was also the case for me.

As a software developer I'm used to find bits and parts of solutions to tasks I have to solve by searching the web. But in municipality politics I don't think it's common that you can find things by googling them. I wanted to find history about some of the matters, well, when there existed a history it was hidden in the heads of the politicians that had been in the game for quite a while. They sure wanted to talk about the past, but it is really time consuming to learn by finding people that have the knowledge and then have a chat about it. There probably exists lots of information in the archives too, but I'm not sure it would be any faster to find it there.

On the municipality home page you can at least find summonses and protocols in pdf-format for a few years back. The problem was that the content of the pdf-files was images of texts instead of normal, searchable, copy-and-paste-able text.

After experiencing the breadth of the matters dealt with in the committee, I finally understood that to have any constructive influence on the politics I would have to devote much more time for it than I had done so far. I wasn't up for that.

Anyway, my time as a politician made a small impact on information findability. I wrote a motion about the need to have the content of the summonses and protocols files in text format instead of images of text. The motion was approved and after that it became possible to find content in the files created afterwards by just googling some keywords! (... but sadly it just worked for a few months and then it was images of text again, probably caused by bad rooting of the new routines. Sometimes I try to remind them, but I usually have a hard time describing that the text really is images...)

So why did I tell you all this? Well, probably as an introduction to why I coded and published the site Blogging Municipality-Politicians. I want to make information regarding municipality-politics to be easier to find, and one way to do it I thought, was to create a portal site that lists all living blogs that are written by municipality-politicians. I didn't do much research beforehand, so I'm not sure there are that many blogs to add to the list, really. But it's worth a try and I probably will learn something along the way! :)

UPDATE 2017-05-30

None of the people I've been in contact with about this has shown any interest at all in a site like this. So, I'll leave it abandoned.

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