Freesteel Blog » 2010 » June

Saturday, June 5th, 2010 at 12:22 pm - - DL 1 Comment »

My appeal over a request to the BBC for information about their £1-£1.5 millionDemocracy Live project, powered by a speech-to-text system built by two companies called Blinkx and Autonomy (both of which BBC non-executive board member Mike Lynch has financial interests in) got turned down by the ICO a couple of weeks ago.

This publicly funded project makes a lot of people’s blood boil, because there was already a well-stablished volunteer-run (because no moneyed-up democratic institution in its tiny mind sees fit to give it any backing so far) Parliamentary accessibility project called TheyWorkForYou.com that’s based on the actual textual official transcripts — which can be used for a whole lot more purposes than a bunch of vegetative time-consuming video streams.

Why couldn’t the BBC divert a few small crumbs from their expensive project budget our way so that we could align each other’s datasets (video and visible text) to produce a common page where the information is merged so it can be used in many more places?

The speech-to-text technology, although incredible, is not fit for consumption, except as raw material for a search engine. It detects words rather than properly edited sentences.

My ICO decision notice FS50284450 was promulgated in the negative. I had asked for the progress reports submitted by these two companies during the 18 month build phase of the project, and the BBC claimed they contained journalsim, and that disclosing this information would have a “chilling effect” upon its editorial freedom.

The only thing it would have a “chilling effect” on is the ability for its disconnected board of directors to dream up private pet projects that unnecessarily undermines rather than supports unpaid citizen action outside.

How much cheaper would it have been to have turned this idea into something everyone would have loved and been proud of?

In the interests of retro hand-written form filling, here’s a page from my paper submission:

Wish me luck.

Friday, June 4th, 2010 at 10:46 am - - Cave

Becka’s cave trips last weekend (I surveyed part of the entrance streamway) was to survey up to the connection and then, on the next day, help dig the connection between Rift Pot and Ireby Fell Cavern. No time to talk about it, so here is the survey:

Oh look, I’ve left off any scale bars. How useless. No time to waste. Back to work.

The data is here. Access to the project is here.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 4:21 pm - - Whipping 1 Comment »

There’s a long running battle between civil rights and the forces for a police state.

One of the tangible wins is the right not to be hassled by the police if you’re not doing anything wrong.

But what if there is a state of emergency and it’s necessary to temporarily suspend this right to allow the police to prevent an act of terrorism by searching anyone they please?

Well, darling, that’s what Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 is for. It allows any chief constable to declare that this civil right does not apply for the next 28 days in any area of the country — if he “considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism”.

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