TheyWorkForYou.com

The British people – the ones who are not politicians – rarely fail to impress me.

Discovered TheyWorkForYou during the usual quickie Monday morning web trawling – usually for work-related tech news.. ahem… – but this one caught my eye for reasons that I shall explain below.

After the last Malaysian general elections, I had some thoughts about setting up some kind of website where my constituent MP’s performance could be graded by the public – something like a report card. The website could also serve as an information portal where the public could get details of how to get in touch with relevant local authorities and procedures and processes for complaints and things like that. Of course, user input like comments would have to be moderated – this is Malaysia, after all.

Then those ideas expanded to include all constituencies and MP, and perhaps state assemblymen, and what the heck, Cabinet members too….

But eventually, as all grandiose plans are wont to do, this one got shelved away into the recesses of my mind while I became more involved with work and such.

Until I came across TheyWorkForYou, of course.

From their About Us page:

We are a dozen or so volunteers who think it should be really easy for people to keep tabs on their elected MPs, and their unelected Peers, and comment on what goes on in Parliament. We’ve done this sort of thing before, but never on this scale.

For all its faults and foibles, our democracy is a profound gift from previous generations. Yet most people don’t know the name of their MP, nor their constituency, let alone what their MP does or says in their name.

We aim to help bridge this growing democratic disconnect, in the belief that there is little wrong with Parliament that a healthy mixture of transparency and public engagement won’t fix.

Hence this website.

Web developers/volunteer activists/unemployed geeks would be interestd to know that the source code for the web project is available under the Open Source license (download from here). Ah, a website after my own heart…

So…. anyone interested in starting a Malaysian edition of TheyWorkForYou (Mereka Bekerja Untuk Anda)?πŸ˜‰

UPDATE: I’ve been looking at the source code, and it’s interesting to note the many subtle references to Guy Fawkes – a password to a wiki (not available right now) is a derivative of ‘November‘, and examples in the README file refer to a home directory labeled ‘Fawkes’. Heheheh…..

8 thoughts on “TheyWorkForYou.com”

  1. Slow and steady though…it’s a great idea. Though it is going to go through a bumpy start when it starts. Hoard mentality and democracy aren’t really the same thing. Kinda the thing you’d expect when you start something like this in our own country.

    Too bad though…I tend to stay far away from politics. I leave that to other people. People with a…louder voice.πŸ™‚

    SASHI: Yeah, I know – that’s why I mentioned the moderated user input thing. We’re not completely ready for total freedom of expression – but there’s a far greater interest and awareness regarding government and official transparency these days, so perhaps this concept is one whose time has come.

  2. Hmm.

    Interesting. I gather a possible extension of a concept would be that we could then run some sort of prediction poll before elections – but that’ll require some serious horsepower. Good stuff, dude.

    SASHI: Dude, I can almost hear those wheels in your head spinning away… if you start developing an idea or two, let us in on the details, won’t ya?πŸ˜‰

  3. When, where and how? Since it’s online, PLEASE sign me up. Thank you. ^_^

    SASHI: We’ll let you know as soon as something happens. In the meantime, please take this number 0182736 and take a seat….

  4. I thought “Mereka Berkhidmat Untuk Anda” would sound good, but… too good. Kinda PR-ish. What do you think?

    SASHI: Nice… and yeah, a bit PR-ish. But good PR is always welcome when it comes to our elected representatives… I think..

  5. And start small – build and release the simplest possible thing you can think of that will be interesting to people, and be on the way to the grand website. It keeps up motivation, finds other interested people, and immediately makes a difference.

    In the UK, we separately did FaxYourMP and Public Whip before tackling TheyWorkForYou. In Italy a new group OpenPolis have launched a political opinion map survey, and are working on lots of other things.

    SASHI: Thanks for dropping by, Francis. Yeah, I’m thinking of starting something simple, and build on that. It’s still very much in the thinking-it-through phase, though, but hopefully ‘ll be able to find some time to get some stuff (and people!) together.πŸ™‚

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