TheyWorkForYou.com is one of the UK’s smartest and most interesting websites, built for peanuts by a team of people (some of them volunteers) with a passion for democracy.
This site takes Hansard (the official Parliamentary record) and slices up the speeches into small chunks.
Anyone can sign up to add comments about what’s said and monitor what their MP gets up to in Parliament – so the whole democratic process is opened up a little bit more.
The latest new feature at TheyWorkForYou.com is even smarter, matching up Hansard texts with video footage from the BBC.
But it needs our help.
If you go to theyworkforyou.com/video, and click the large headline saying “Give me a random speech that needs timestamping”, you’ll be shown a small snippet of text and a video clip.
All you have to do is click the big “Now!” button when the speech in the video matches the text you see.
The point of this exercise is that it adds more layers to the whole site.
In future, people browsing through Parliamentary debates will be able to click on a “Show video” icon to see what really happened.
Hansard is an accurate (although not always verbatim) record of what happens in the House – it can’t show emotion.
If there was a particularly interesting, passionate, lively (or downright embarrassing) speech, you’ll be able to
watch it as well as read it.
If you’ve seen Acrobat on your computer before, it’ll probably be in connection with the free PDF reader that millions of people use to view PDF documents downloaded from the web.
Now Adobe, the company behind Acrobat, is making the most of its well-known brand and expanding it to web-based applications.
If you sign up at acrobat.com you can now get free access to several useful and very well designed tools. The best of them is Buzzword, a word processor that looks worlds away from Microsoft Word but has a lot of very cool features.
There’s also file storage and sharing, and of course, an application for creating PDF files of your own. It’s all free and well worth experimenting with.
Peter Gabriel isn’t just a rock star, he’s also something of an internet entrepreneur. His online music service We7 (www.we7.com) is growing nicely, despite competing against giants like Napster and Apple’s iTunes. Now Gabriel has joined the team behind a new website called The Filter (www.thefilter.com).
You tell it some music, movies and TV shows you like, and it will use software algorithms to try and recommend new stuff for you. You can listen to music and watch videos while you’re browsing, too.
It’s all very new and shiny and needs some time to grow – but keep your eye on it.
* Giles Turnbull has a website at www.gilest.org