Freesteel Blog » undemocracy needs your help

undemocracy needs your help

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007 at 10:57 pm Written by:

This article will be updated

This website needs contributions from programmers as well as from active users.

Users can find, read, and research pieces of information buried in these speeches and documents, and share them by blogging about them, or citing them from from wikipedia articles. For a selection of articles that have links to documents indexed by this site, click here.

More instructions to follow.

Programmers and web-designers should be able to recognize many deficiencies which they may have the time to correct. At this point I’ll welcome any help. Everything is backed up on knowledgeforge awaiting your perusal. Python source code for the website is available here and the scraper/parser is available here awaits your perusal. At present, for ease of development, it runs without a database.

Job 1 If you know about PDF files, a really useful job would be to insert hyperlinks into them wherever a reference to another UN document is present. For example, in this page of a document I have highlighted six references to other documents which should be hyper-linked. It would be useful to have a stand-alone module through which each document could be filtered that would massively improve the browsing experience whilst enabling the backtracking the links to find what future documents refer to this one.

At the limit, such a module would incorporate an OCR capabilities so that links could be inserted into the many older documents that have been photographically scanned.

Job 2 A wide field for research text mining. When heads of state visit New York to speak at the United Nations, they often mention historical events in order to illustrate their speech. Probably the most commonly mentioned event is 9/11, but there are many others. A consequence of any good text mining system should be to be able to identify which historical events are mentioned in each speech and flag them for future visualization. Perhaps there is a relationship between the location of the event, and the territory which the speaker represents.

Job 3 If you have a lot of money and influence to make things happen and want to contribute, please turn it into programming directly by paying/bribing a programmer to get something done. I am utterly hopeless at converting money into work (productive or not) so there is no point me having it.


  • 1. andre replies at 15th March 2008, 4:00 pm :

    How can I contribute in Job 1 and 2?

  • 2. Julian replies at 17th March 2008, 10:22 am :

    Yes, just get started.

    For samples for Job2, see

    For Job 1, apply PDFTOHTML on any of the PDF files to get a result outlined in

    and get cracking. I do not now how to add links to PDF files — but that’s part of the process.

    Such an application would be self-contained and doesn’t have to work very well at first. It would be so unbelievably useful it could be redistributable to the UN for internal use at the very least — esp if people could install it as an add-on into their PDF reader.

  • 3. Martin Owen Has A Blog : &hellip replies at 12th January 2009, 10:39 pm :

    […] I’d met Julian and Aidan before the Barcamp, and have followed Julian’s work on Public Whip (the web scraping code behind and UN Democracy (a project to scrape PDFs of United Nations meetings and present their contents on the web – eventually doing things like this.) I haven’t been able to help with UN Democracy however, and I know he is keen to get some. […]

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