Freesteel Blog » Democracy Live performance analysed

Democracy Live performance analysed

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 at 12:04 am Written by:

Well someone has got to do it, and I doubt any journalists or other BBC staff have actually gone to the trouble to investigate the quality (or lack thereof) of their bought-in Autonomy/Blinkx speech to text video searching engine which they have wired up to the Parliamentary feed and then mis-sold (for the purpose of avoiding any form of accountability) as journalism.

As you know, I have a case about this piece of work with the Information Tribunal, because I’ve got to find out to what lengths they went in order to deliberately avoid using the free, reliable, substantive, authoritative, useful and content-driven structured XML feed of parsed-from-Hansard that is in the back system of theyworkforyou — when they instead chose to commission this shoddy piece of fundamentally flawed technology that serves no purpose and viciously wasted a very real opportunity for parliamentary publication excellence.

What I did was search for the word “Liverpool” in on the site, and then exhaustively identify all the hits that they had against the video against what was recorded in Hansard. (The Hansard transcript, as you should know, is edited to improve the grammar and clarity of the spoken word.)

Here’s the page you get back of the main debate in which “Liverpool” appears:

After hours of painstaking work tracking down all the instances in one debate and listening to them carefully (as well as doing a lot of very tedious HTML formatting), here are the results of my transcription:

Democracy Live Actually spoken Hansard Error
…two thousand women control of Liverpool City Council and work… and yet Manchester City council are making 2,000 (they are Labour controlled), how Liverpool City council are looking at 1500
00:50:50
yet the figures for Labour-controlled Manchester city council and Liverpool city council are 2,000 and 1,500 respectively?
[TWFY]
3/8
…of undermining taxes last week Liverpool City Council to fall… of undermining charities. Last week Liverpool City council had to
00:53:06
of undermining charities. Last week Liverpool City council had to
[TWFY]
2/9
…jumping to conclusions regarding how Liverpool would say well Donna… jumping to conclusions regarding how Liverpool would fare. Well I’ve done that
01:33:23
jumping to conclusions regarding how Liverpool would fare. Well, I have done that.
[TWFY]
3/9
…have a devastating impact on Liverpool also in the wider… have a devastating impact on Liverpool, but in the wider
01:33:47
devastating impact on Liverpool, but in the wider scheme of things
[TWFY]
1/8
…economy I stated then that Liverpool would be disproportionately hit… economy. I stated then that Liverpool would be disproportionately hit
01:33:55
economy. I stated in December that Liverpool would be disproportionately hit
[TWFY]
0/9
…I am still misses in Liverpool city council A Ali… I am still sitting Liverpool city councillor, at least
01:34:05
I am still a sitting Liverpool city councillor, at least until
[TWFY]
3/8
…when the transfer tax claim Liverpool for his exact phrase… when the Prime Minister tried to blame Liverpool for his Big Society
01:34:20
when the Prime Minister tried to blame Liverpool for his big society
[TWFY]
6/9
…I have supported Putin on Liverpool move in however it… to type and put the boot in on Liverpool, did they? However
01:34:30
to type and put the boot in to Liverpool, did it? That comment shows
[TWFY]
4/9
…is not just laying there Liverpool have a say in… it’s not just Labour in Liverpool that are saying
01:34:37
it is not just Labour in Liverpool that is saying
[TWFY]
2/9
…members are fully acknowledge that Liverpool is not alone local… members. I fully acknowledge that Liverpool is not alone. Local
01:35:36
Members shout me down, I fully acknowledge that Liverpool is not alone. Local
[TWFY]
1/9
…about a dilemma in which Liverpool City Council finds itself… about the dilemma which Liverpool City Council finds itself
01:35:47
about the situation in which Liverpool city council finds itself.
[TWFY]
0/8
…Labour controlled council however as Liverpool man as this and… Labour controlled council. How has Liverpool managed this, and
01:36:38
Labour-controlled council. How Liverpool managed that might
[TWFY]
3/8
…communities and local governments still Liverpool has been a handful… Communities and Local Government. So Liverpool has been there and done all that
01:37:11
Secretary of State. Liverpool has been there and done all that
[TWFY]
3/9
…the answers wrong today a Liverpool City Council is absolutely… the Prime Minister was wrong today, and Liverpool City Council was absolutely
01:37:26
the Prime Minister was wrong today, and why Liverpool city council was absolutely
[TWFY]
2/7
…haul their party conference in Liverpool so let us see… hold their party conference in Liverpool so they can see
01:38:17
hold their party conference in Liverpool so that they can see
[TWFY]
3/9
…that he uses on face Liverpool and if humans are… that he uses is unfair to Liverpool, and the cumulative effect
01:39:23
that is being used is unfair to Liverpool, and the cumulative effect
[TWFY]
4/9
…and that is common knowledge Liverpool is the most deprived… but it’s common knowledge, Liverpool is the most deprived
01:39:37
but it is common knowledge: Liverpool is the most deprived
[TWFY]
1/9
…there if that does indeed Liverpool extremely vulnerable in these… if that doesn’t leave Liverpool extremely vulnerable in these
01:40:07
If that does not make Liverpool extremely vulnerable in these
[TWFY]
2/9
…in a decade for now Liverpool this season with a… share of the pain, but no, Liverpool is faced with a
01:41:17
share of the pain, but Liverpool is faced with a
[TWFY]
5/9
…facing the biggest spending squeeze Liverpool Manchester and Nolan and… facing the biggest spending squeeze is Liverpool, Manchester, and Knowsley, are
01:40:41
facing the biggest spending squeezes-Liverpool, Manchester and Knowsley-are
[TWFY]
1/8
…that the spending power and Liverpool will not be a… that the spending power of Liverpool will not be affected
01:41:33
that spending power in Liverpool would not be affected
[TWFY]
1/8
…this simply isn’t the case Liverpool City Council with our… This simply isn’t the case. Liverpool City Council has advised
01:41:47
That simply is not the case. Liverpool city council has advised
[TWFY]
2/9
…a soundbite despite all this Liverpool City Council has sought… a soundbite. Despite all this, Liverpool City Council has sought
01:42:02
a soundbite? Despite all this, Liverpool city council has sought
[TWFY]
0/9
…relaxation on Imus this leaves Liverpool City Council in the… relaxation on that limit. This leaves Liverpool City Council in the
01:42:49
relaxation in that limit. That leaves Liverpool city council in the
[TWFY]
2/9
…less like an experiment in Liverpool on Sunday how much… less like an experiment in local autonomy, and much
01:43:53
less like an experiment in local autonomy and more and more
[TWFY]
4/9
…the old days when the Liverpool team mates a very… the honourable gentleman for Liverpool makes a very
01:44:49
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Steve Rotheram) made an impassioned plea
[TWFY]
6/9
…speakers to complaints about turn Liverpool being cut by nine… speaker’s complaints about Liverpool being cut by 9%
01:50:39
speaker, Steve Rotheram, about Liverpool’s budget being cut by 9%?
[TWFY]
2/9
…quite consistent whether that is Liverpool taking a bit of… by constituents, whether that is Liverpool seeking a bit of
01:51:24
by our constituents-whether in Liverpool, which is seeking a bit of
[TWFY]
3/9
…point to the honorable gentleman Liverpool is experiencing a reduction… point to the honourable gentleman. Liverpool is experiencing a reduction
02:45:39
point to him: while Liverpool is experiencing a reduction
[TWFY]
0/9

By my estimates, this error rate adds up to 71/252 or about 28%, which is quite a bit worse than the about 80% accuracy that the industry standard is “reckoned to be”.

Now, normally if something like this were delivered to a paying customer, the contractor would have to apologize for the quality and make reasonable excuses about it being a first approximation and better than nothing, and so forth.

But we haven’t got nothing. We’ve got Hansard. And this about as far from being better than it as you can get. It’s worthless, counter-productive, unhelpful, and nobody in the BBC uses it to find anything about Parliament — so why are they promoting it to the public in the expectation that we should use it?

This product was apparently made by video search company Blinkx, which is a spin-off from Automony, part owned by Autonomy’s head honcho, Mike Lynch, who was also on the board of the BBC Trust at the time he sold thisthe BBC bought this piece of crap. There’s a wonderful set of employee reviews of working for Autonomy here at glassdoor.com.

I also found the reviews of Blinkx from around the period this product was being put commissioned. Trust me: read them and you won’t feel so bad about your programming job that you now have, whatever it is.

08-Jun-2009 “Place is a complete mess run by people without a clue” Anonymous
22-Apr-2009 “run away.” Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
01-Apr-2009 “Working for blinkx is like running without legs.” Employee in San Francisco, CA
06-Nov-2008 “A waste of several months.” Employee in San Francisco, CA
04-Nov-2008 “Relatively fun job, but bad management.” Employee in San Francisco, CA
04-Nov-2008 “STAY AWAY – blinkx’s hostile work environment is reminiscent of 3rd world sweat shops” Employee in San Francisco, CA
27-Oct-2008 “Blinkx is a terrible place to work. Poor leadership and communication from management.” Senior Manager in San Francisco, CA

I don’t know if any of the following quotes refer to the production of Democracy Live, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

They have no regard for any creative input, or any input in general. There is no project management and projects are incredibly rushed. There is no time to refine and polish ideas to generate good products. You start off really excited about a project, invest blood and sweat into it and then management ends up canning it due to poorly planned timelines. In the end you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing. As a result blinkx is a hodge-podge of mediocrity… Half the time you find out what the next product is going to be from press releases….

Also, a lot of promises and lying goes on internally and externally to customers/press….

A lot of lying to the customers about features that are not there, demos/prototype that are mostly fabricated, and blatant copying of other company’s products….

So there we have it. That’s most of my afternoon and evening gone on this. I never got to the allotment like I ought to have. Anyway it was raining. Night night.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <strong>