Thanks everyone who’s turned up so far for a drink and a chat at our monthly pub meets. The next one is on Wednesday the 17th, again at the Counting House pub. You are invited!
If you’d like to tweet about the night, or put photos on Instagram or Flickr, you can use the hashtag #mysocial.
7.30, Wednesday 17th August at the Counting House
Map here. The nearest Underground stations are Monument and Bank.
Don’t forget the mySociety pub meet this Thursday. Hope to see you there! If you need to identify us, we’ll be the ones wearing very attractive, high-fashion mySociety hoodies.
Questions to ask us? Fantastic ideas for what we should be doing next? Thinking about joining our team of volunteers? Or perhaps you just like a drink in the company of exceptionally nice people.
We’re reviving the monthly mySociety London pub meet (hoorah!) and if you can make it, we’d very much like to see you there.
When? Thursday the 16th of June from 7.30 onwards
Where? Marquess of Anglesey, 39 Bow Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7AU Google map
And if you’re in or around Oxford the night before, Wednesday the 15th, you might be interested to know that our developer Louise Crow will be speaking about FixMyTransport at the Oxford Geek Night. As the project nears completion, this should be an interesting look at where the idea came from, what we hope it will do, and the challenges of building it.
On Wednesday this week, mySociety’s Tom and Paul were in Southampton, competing in the Geovation finals.
Geovation is an initiative coordinated by Ordnance Survey which gives out funding to projects that help “communities address their unmet needs through the application of geographic data, skills and expertise”. When we discovered that the theme this time was “How can we improve transport in Britain?” we knew we had to enter.
As many of you will know, mySociety has been working for some time on FixMyTransport, a project for reporting problems with public transport. Taking much of what we’ve learned from FixMyStreet, we are, in the trademark mySociety way, building a website that will make the process easy, whilst hiding all the complexities out of sight.
FixMyTransport is well under way, and we’re hoping to launch shortly. But with Geovation funding, we hoped to be able to roll out an accompanying mobile application.
This is incredibly important because, after all, the best time to make a transport report is immediately you experience the problem.
mySociety has, of course, always been into maps and geodata – we use them in what we hope are fun and innovative ways across many of our sites, including (obviously) Mapumental, and (less obviously) TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem. We’re also rather fond of public transport.
We also really enjoyed meeting the other contestants, particularly Cyclestreets whose project looks like it will be one to watch.
At the end of the day, we were delighted to learn that we had been awarded £27,000 to develop a simple, intuitive, cross-platform mobile application for FixMyTransport. We can’t wait to get started. We really believe it’s going to be of real benefit to public transport users across the UK (and possibly further, given the open-source nature of all our work).
If you’d like to stay up to date with FixMyTransport as we build and launch it, you might want to be one of the very first to “like” our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.
Like mySociety? Like pubs? Why not come to our pre-Christmas pub meet, this coming monday?
2 Cousin Lane, London, EC4R 3TE
21st December from 6.30pm onwards.
Leave a comment on this post if you’re coming. New faces and old hands equally welcome.
Come to the pub with us!
12th October 2009, from about 6.30, at the Banker just under Cannon Street station.
We won’t bite. Probably.
It is with overwhelming sadness that I write to tell our community that Angie Martin, mySociety’s fourth core developer, has died. She was taken from us by the cancer that she had been fighting since soon after we hired her less than two years ago.
Possessed of an almost unbelievably upbeat personality, Angie brought not only her formidable Perl skills, but her blazing warmth of character to our team. In remission during our yearly retreat in January this year, she combined laughter with a typically tough line of questioning on ideas she thought insufficiently robust. With typical disgregard for cool, her CV noted that she was “known to enjoy wrangling regular expressions on a Sunday Morning”. She didn’t see any contradiction between being a successful woman and a geek, throwing herself wholeheartedly into the Mac-toting, perlmonger ethos. She even brought her husband Tommy with her, who became a significant volunteer.
Given her habit of plain speaking, it is pointless to pretend that Angie was able to make the contribution to mySociety’s users or codebase that she wanted to. What she achieved in terms of difficult coding during recovery from chemotherapy was incredible, breathtaking – but she wanted to change the world. It now falls to the rest of us, and our supporters, to live up to the expectations she embodied, to continue to push every day, using skills like those that she had to help people with everyday problems. We now have to ask ‘What would Angie do?’, as well as ‘What would Chris do?’. It is a lot to live up to.
She was a mySociety core developer: I hope that meant as much to her as it meant for me to have her as one of my coders. Remember and Respect.
Updated: Angie changed her surname upon getting married, a couple of months ago. I have just read she wanted to be remembered as Angie Martin, and so I have made that change. Read this tribute on the Lasso list.
Updated 21 7 2009: Tommy has just told me that those wishing to may memorial donations should send them to Hospice at Home.
Is there something part of the government is doing that you’d like to investigate? Find out everything from MPs’ expenses, to the length of allotment waiting lists, to whether your council’s Guy Fawkes bonfire is properly checked for hedgehogs.
mySociety are running a practical workshop on Freedom of Information at OpenTech on 4th July.
The workshop will help you make your first Freedom of Information request, including working out what to request, where to request it from and what exactly to write.
If you’re an old hand, you can get and give tips on how to take requests further.
We’ve got a fantastic team of Freedom of Information (FOI) experts to kick things off and answer hard questions.
Bring a laptop if you have one. Internet will be provided for the workshop only, so we can scour Government websites, and make requests on mySociety’s WhatDoTheyKnow.com website.
As usual, the rest of OpenTech is brimming with great talks, and will be full of interesting geeky wonks and wonky geeks. Book your place here so you can go to them and to the workshop. Hurry, it’s nearly sold out.
Update: WE WON! [the following is now for historical interest]
Uh oh. Ministers are about to conceal MPs’ expenses, even though the public has just paid £1m to get them all ready for publication, and even though the tax man expects citizens to do what MPs don’t have to. They buried the news on the day of the Heathrow runway announcement. This is heading in the diametric wrong direction from government openness.
You can help in the following three ways:
1. Please write to your MP about this www.WriteToThem.com – ask them to lobby against this concealment, and tell them that TheyWorkForYou will be permanently and prominently noting those MPs who took the opportunity to fight against this regressive move. The millions of constituents who will check this site before the next election will doutbtless be interested.
2. Join this facebook group and invite all your least political friends (plus your most political too). Send them personal mails, phone or text them. Encourage them to write to their politicians too.
3. Write to your local paper to tell them you’re angry, and ask them to ask their readers to do the above. mySociety’s never-finished site http://news.mysociety.org might be able to help you here.
NB. mySociety is strictly non-partisan, by mission and by ethics. However, when it looks like Parliament is about to take a huge step in the wrong direction on transparency, we’ve no problem at all with stepping up when changes happen that threaten both the public interest and the ongoing value of sites like TheyWorkForYou and WhatDoTheyKnow.
Update: Every page on TheyWorkForYou, our biggest site, is now strongly encouraging people to join the protest.
Update: We’ve sailed past 1000 members to our Facebook group. Onward and upward!
Update: And now past 3000 members! Also, some MPs are claiming that they need to vote for this Order to protect their addresses, even though they already changed to law to do this. Doh!
Update: Now we’re past 6500, and our supporters have mailed their constituency MPs in over 90% of the constituencies in the UK. And rather helpfully, President Obama has just given us a concise explanation for MPs why this is a much bigger issue than some bits of paper and some minor embarrassment:
“And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”
mySociety is auctioning two places on our yearly retreat.
This is only the third such retreat in five years, and it is a super-rare occasion when all the various people who make mySociety tick get together. On these retreats we meet to set our agenda for the next year and try to reassess what we’ve done and what we’re about. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet many of the most talented developers and thinkers in the field of the internet and democracy, people you’d otherwise rarely be able to catch. And it’s a great moment to catch them, pausing for a moment to discuss what we’re about and where we could go next.
I am fully concious that the tickets are not cheap – we are doing this it is to help us cover our costs as a charity.
The door is not closed to the rest of you – most people on this retreat will be volunteers, and you can be too!