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Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Political Representation on BBC Political Q&A Programmes – Stub

It’s too nice a day to be inside hacking around with Parliament data as a remote participant in today’s Parliamentary hack weekend (resource list), but if it had been a wet weekend I may have toyed with one of the following:

- revisiting this cleaning script for Analysing UK Lobbying Data Using OpenRefine (actually, a look at who finds/offers support for All Party Groups. The idea was to get a dataset of people who provide secretariat and funds to APPGs, as well as who works for them, and then do something with that dataset…)

- tinkering with data from Question Time and Any Questions…

On that last one:

- we have data from the BBC about historical episodes of Question Time and historical episodes of Any Questions. (Click a year/month link to get the listing.)

These gives us generatable URLs for programmes by month with URLs of form http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t1q9/broadcasts/2013/01 but how do we get a JSON version of that?! Adding .json on the end doesn’t work?!:-( UPDATE – this could be a start, via @nevali – use pattern /programmes/PID.rdf , such as http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qgvj.rdf

We can get bits of information (albeit in semi-structured from) about panellists in data form from programme URL hacks like this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007m3c1.json

Note that some older programmes don’t list all the panelists in the data? So a visit to WIkipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Question_Time_episodes#2007 – may be in order for Question Time (there isn’t a similar page for Any Questions?)

Given panellists (the BBC could be more helpful here in the way it structures its data…), see if we can identify parliamentarians (MP suffix? Lord/Lady title?) and look them up using the new-to-me, not-yet-played-with-it UK Parliament – Members’ Names Data Platform API. Not sure if reconciliation works on parliamentarian lookup (indeed, not sure if there is a reconciliation service anywhere for looking up MPs, members of the House of Lords, etc?)

From Members’ Names API, we can get things like gender, constituency, whether or not they were holding a (shadow) cabinet post, maybe whether they were on a particular committee at the time etc. From programme pages, we may be able to get the location of the programme recording. So this opens up possibility of mapping geo-coverage of Question Time/Any Questions, both in terms of where the programmes visit as well as which constituencies are represented on them.

If we were feeling playful, we could also have a stab at which APPGs have representation on those programmes!

It also suggests a simpler hack – of just providing a briefing around the representatives appearing on a particular episode in terms of their current (or at the time) parliamentary status (committees, cabinet positions, APPGs etc etc)?

Written by Tony Hirst

November 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Interesting start, although what you’d still need some way of gathering is the affiliations of non-Parliamentarians – think of this as the Farage Question: UKIP appear on QT frequently, and almost exclusively through the flesh-form of Nigel Farage.

    Equally, how would you be able to start taking account of journalist/non-political participants? Journalists *perhaps* you could look at the paper for which they write – I think there’s a database somewhere which captures this – journalisted? (although Suzanne Moore/Mail On Sunday or Simon Jenkins/The Guardian makes that, at best, a stab). But how do you know that Mark Steel is on the left…?

    Simon HB (@norock)

    November 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    • @norock Al valid points, of course… but we have to start somewhere, don’t we? Why is it a reason not do it for MPs just because in recent years QUestion Time has started chasing sleb panelists? It could also act as a driver for getting BBC to publish nicer metadata?

      Tony Hirst

      November 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

  2. […] up on Political Representation on BBC Political Q&A Programmes – Stub , the quickest of […]


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