Two new SayIt demos: Transcripts from Philadelphia City Council and the Federal Reserve

Philadelphia City Hall by Stephen Downes

Back in January, we introduced SayIt, our new software for the publication of transcripts. To show what it could do, we launched with a few demos.

Today we’re launching a couple more demos using data from the United States, as a way of saying ‘hello!’ to American groups and individuals who might want to use modern transcripts for their own purposes.

Philadelphia City Council Meetings

Decisions affecting your house, your street or your job are often made in city government meetings. But who can be bothered to sit through hours of irrelevant waffle? Why can’t you just look for the things that matter to you?

To show a better way, we’ve published a searchable, shareable version of Philadelphia’s City Council meetings available for use. It’s just a deployment of SayIt, filled with screen-scraped data.

You don’t have to live in this city to find some of what’s talked about interesting. Some issues are international, and it’s interesting to see how e-cigarettes are also a concern for Philadelphia. There are also issues which, we suspect, are not common to all city governments.  ‘Giant tomato cannon‘ is one of them.

Federal Reserve Transcripts

We’re keen to demonstrate that SayIt isn’t just about what politicians say. Often unelected people say very important things too. Few discussions are more important to the way the world runs than the meetings of the Federal Reserve.

The Fed publishes these with a five year delay, which means that what’s coming out now is all about the financial crisis in 2008. What exactly was said? Now that we’ve put the Federal Reserve Open Market transcripts from 2002 to 2008 online, you can find out far more easily than before.

Browsing and searching these transcripts can be fascinating. At what point did the Committee first perceive there to be a crisis? And what kind of data indicates a recession?

Do financial experts use loose terms like ‘gazillion’? Apparently so. How many times is the word ‘subprime’ used? Lots.

Also, with SayIt you can search through the speeches of just one person. Want to know whether Ben Bernanke used certain terms? Have at it.

As with other SayIt instances, these transcripts were previously available online, but spread across a huge number of old fashioned PDFs. For the first time, SayIt makes them easy to browse, search or link to.

Want to see more transcripts up there?

We’re looking to find one or more groups in the US who would be interested to use SayIt to help make citizens more powerful, in one way or another. We’re looking for people who think that access to certain kinds transcripts would really make a difference, and we’re not snobbish about whether it’s a really big issue or a really small one.

If these two examples have given you ideas for transcripts you’d like to publish with SayIt, do get in touch.

Image: Philadelphia City Hall by Stephen Downes (CC)