2020 - Week 23

Career opportunities

We cannot let this week pass without mentioning the emergence of a rare opportunity to take over the reins of managing Robert, Michael and their fellow computational data experts. If you’ve been thinking that lockdown might be an ideal opportunity to adopt a puppy, just take a look into these sad eyes and tell us you can resist. Career boosts like this don’t come around too often, so please get in early.

Procedure mapping

Having exhausted all avenues for feedback on their composite Statutory Instrument procedure, Librarian Jayne and Michael placed pencils into pencil cases and turned their furrowed brows to the super affirmative procedure. Erskine May was consulted, Standing Orders were perused, companions were queried and they eventually settled down to sketching out a tiny part of the proposal part of super affirmatives. In the Commons. As it relates to Legislative Reform Orders. The Guide to Procedure suggests that super affirmative procedure happens in two distinct parts: a proposal is presented to both Houses and, following recommendations being made by Committees in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, an instrument is formally laid. The instrument is then subject to either the slightly modified negative, the slightly modified affirmative or the super affirmative procedure. At first glance this seems to be not too dissimilar to the relationship between a Proposed Negative Statutory Instrument and the Statutory Instrument which is subsequently laid. Which would be a good thing from a mapping point of view, as there is a pattern we can follow. That said, a second laying does not appear to turn up in the data, so perhaps that happens offstage. As it were. Jayne and Michael are hopeful that the Guide to Procedure is correct here because making one big map to cover draft procedure, negative procedure, affirmative procedure and super affirmative procedure would probably be the final straw for their fading eyesight.

Your weekly egg timer update

Visible progress has been difficult to discern this week. But the invisible stuff has gone swingingly. As we might have mentioned in the past, different parliamentary procedures have different ways of counting days. And sometimes the same procedure counts days differently for different instruments depending on the enabling Act. We ended last week in some confusion about the status of House of Lords virtual sitting days in our calculations. Which was cleared up by another mail from Journal Office Jane. We’ve added another Google calendar to cope with virtual sittings, which Librarian Jayshree has populated by decanting days from our Lords sitting day calendar. So we think we have all the right data in all the right tables. We just need to fine tune the calculations.

Having solved virtual sittings, the team casted around for another can of worms to open and settled on day types. Another mail from JO Jane set them straight on the difference between having bottoms on benches and when the seats are merely being kept warm. Michael proposed a set of six procedures to cope with assorted flavours of made affirmative instruments. Jane pointed out that his allowance for Commons only instruments was an allowance too far. There has been no occasion in her recollection when such an instrument was laid before the Commons only. Which makes sense given that made affirmatives are emergency legislation. She suggested we check with a Commons colleague - who better than Mr Evans? Another round of emails ensued. Paul confirmed that he too had no recollection of such a scenario. Which means Librarian Jayne and computational expert Michael need to make a change to the made affirmative map to turn the ‘Instrument made (signed into law)’ allows ‘Laid before the House of Lords’ route into a causal one. And they need to make a similar change to the somewhat wordy route from ‘Instrument introducing one or more criminal offences under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 created’ to ‘Statement deposited by the government, declaring the introduction of one or more criminal offences’. Every week we learn a little more.

We have an outstanding question as to whether a made affirmative is ever subject to the stricter day definition of bottoms on benches, but still, everything is slowly clicking into place. The team feel that as understanding increases, the amount of code required is definitely decreasing. And less code is always a good thing. Code should tend toward zero they feel.

Tiny chisel news

Off the back of last week’s chat between Librarians Anya and Jayne and computational experts Robert and Michael, there is now a slightly simplified legislation model. The ‘informed in part by’ relationship between a procedure and an Act has disappeared. This is now encapsulated in the description model. And the day type class has disappeared. At least for the time being. Michael is still pondering if it should return. Only the egg timer knows the answer.

Robert and Michael finally got around to adding the house membership model to our interface model. Which means our bouncing balls of infinite wisdom have gained seven new balls and a fair bit of bounce. It continues to be a rather impressive ‘proof of work’, but we’re never exactly sure what it tells us. If anything.

Anya, Robert and Michael took a break from chipping away at all things procedural to revisit earlier models intended to cover the three parliamentary research services. A new version of the publisher model is now published for your delectation, and what was the document model is now a half-edited record model. As those of a Library Science bent might infer from the new name for this model, it has taken more of a turn toward FRBRisation, with classes such as work, expression and manifestation. No item class though. We’re very digital you know.

Next week, our three information management heroes intend to polish up the record model comments and test the model in the company of some bona fide research colleagues. They also plan to take a second stab at the contribution model, stitch all three together into the interface model and make a redux version of their interface classes to cover all things library related. Which they’ll then add to their attempt to document a target information architecture for research service websites. For which they’ve even drawn a sitemap. Like it’s 1995.