What is Akoma Ntoso?

Akoma Ntoso


At the beginning of this year we launched SayIt, our software for bringing transcript publication into the internet age.

In that post, we briefly mentioned that “we use a cut-down version of the Akoma Ntoso open standard for data import”.

Well, that’s easy enough to say, but what does it actually mean?

In a nutshell, if you want to upload transcripts to SayIt, they need to be in a format that SayIt can recognise. It can then transform them into the linked pages that make SayIt so useful.

Akoma Ntoso is a simple way of showing (for example) which bits of the data are names, which are speeches, etc. – and how they all relate to one another. At first glance, it’s not all that different from HTML, the basic language behind many websites.

But there are some differences. There are also some interesting ideas behind it, from how it began and where it got its name, to why the world needs another open standard. And what is an open standard, anyway?

We pinned down Flavio Zeni, one of the people behind Akoma Ntoso’s creation, and he very patiently answered all our questions, even the most basic ones.

And then, because it seemed silly not to, we put the whole conversation into SayIt. You can read it here.