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e-democracy, everyday social networking, Journalism, lobbying, Uncategorized

Gathering expense data – Joe Public does the leg work

The Guardian is asking its readers to collect data on their own MPs expense claims as a crowdsourcing experiment. Crowdsourcing is the geek’s way of saying: ‘to ask the public to carry out a task feedback via the social web.’ Readers are invited to: “Join us in digging through the documents of MPs’ expenses to identify individual claims, or documents that you think merit further investigation. You can work through your own MP’s expenses, or just hit the button below to start reviewing.” [UPDATE: as of today, 23 June 2009 readers have helped the paper trawl through some 70,000 edited claims documents].

Thanks to Jeff Woelker's blog for this image

Thanks to Jeff Woelker's blog for this image

Interestingly, Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab blog has a good article on this particular experiment and details what the author Michael Anderson thinks are the four main lessons learned from it.

I bet this initiative makes that large team of journos over at the Telegraph a bit peeved. They’ve been working flat out according to reports on trawling through about a million receipts.

Thanks to tweet from @ruskin147 AKA BBC Tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, for pointing this one out to me  (original tweet I saw: “Are Guardian hacks bone idle? Dozens of telegraph journos spent 6 weeks reading 1m receipts. Guardian asks readers to do it instead?!“)

Well, they are cutting budgets at the G.

I know this from bitter experience as per following sequence of events: propose a juicy article pitch to the Environment section>editor takes the bait – the whole section due to be scrapped>article’s not a goer. (Yet! This recession’ll only make ya stronger!).

Meanwhile, back to what is actually being done to address the expense crisis. Whatdotheyknow.com has published a Freedom of Information request by Adam Boult aimed at the House of Commons asking for details on the redaction process of expense claims, as in, who was involved in the process and what instructions they were given.

Note: image sourced from Jeff Woelker’s blog.

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