2021 - Week 22

A new procedure this way comes!

We are - we believe and sincerely hope - now feature complete on ‘published drafts under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018’. At least in software terms. The laying of a notification of the publication - don’t ask - of such a thing is flowing through the Papers Laid application, into the Search and Indexing triple store, from there into the Procedure Editor database and from there into the data platform. We await our colleagues in Software Engineering who are in the midst of unblocking the pipes from data platform to website. At which point, everyone should - in theory - be happy. At least until the next unexpected procedure proceeds into view. Since we last spoke, our Jianhan has been beavering away shunting ontology shaped logs into data platform shaped rivers and allowing waters to flow freely from database to data platform. At which point beaver analogies probably break down.

In non-software based news, it appears we still have some prodding of procedural maps to occupy ourselves with. Librarian Jayne has come down with a case of the nuptials, leaving all map making in the capable hands of Michael. She left in her wake a single card suggesting JO Jane had thoughts on maps made so far, though failed to provide much in the way of detail. Her mind being on other matters, one presumes. Michael has mailed JO Jane and is now in receipt of a slew of green ink. So, when this goes wrong - as it inevitably will - he can always fall back on his old colour blind excuse.

Kind hearts / coronets

Librarian Ned, young Robert and Michael have spent much of the past two weeks pondering all things peerages and the creation thereof. As of Friday, they have finally put the finishing touches atop their explorations. Since we last spoke, Paul has wangled permission to begin the digitisation of Sainty’s peerage creations in the kingdoms of Ireland, England and Great Britain. He’s also asked for peerages to be listed by reign. So Ned has set to work on spreadsheets and we now have listings for kingdoms, reigns and monarchs. Ned has also cobbled together a couple of additional spreadsheets covering Sainty’s Letters Patent and peerages. Given the somewhat incestuous nature of peerage holdings, great care has been taken to not create the same person twice. Or even thrice. Which means we now have a smattering of people holding both UK and pre-UK peerages. George Nathaniel Curzon being one such example.

Michael’s time has also been spent trying to speed up our Letters Patent listing page which had been taking around 30 seconds to render. Tentative explorations of left joins with distinct ons resulted only in confusion. It wasn’t that the query didn’t work. More that he had no idea why it should work. Happily, Nic stepped in and explained matters. He also pointed out that Michael’s new pride and joy does not approach the even moderately complicated. So that put out his bonfire, so to speak. Nevertheless, thanks Nic.

In yet more peerage news, Paul has agreed to fund the development work to preserve the data for posterity, host it on the History of Parliament Trust website and ensure that the data is editable and added to by trusted parties. James has been approached to take over all things code related. Which is a definite improvement on Michael. And since we’ve already released the Rush data courtesy of HoPT and James, we have a pretty good starting point for editability.

Given the data is heading elsewhere, what, you may be asking, did you get out of all of this? Well. That is a good question. We now have a much better understanding of peerages and titles. Much better. There is little we can’t tell you about how to construct a Lord’s ‘name’. And everything we’ve learned from reshaping David’s data - together with the answers to our innumerable questions provided by David and Grant - has been poured into a shiny new peerage ontology. The last time we mentioned this, all we had was a bare naked Turtle file and a request to our reader not to look. This time around it’s in HTML and replete with comments. So please do click. Clarifications, corrections and pull requests as welcome as ever.

This means that the next time the thorny question of ‘Members’ Names’ arises - as it inevitably will - we’re in a much better position to answer it. Added to which the data will be licenced under Creative Commons Attribution, so - if and when we have systems of the right shape to hold it - it is perfectly amenable to plundering. A win all round we would say.

Relationifying the models

Anya, young Robert and Michael have also taken what we’ve learnt from our peerage probe and started to add it to our more relational efforts. Together with other reasons for which a house seat might exist and further factors determining whether a bottom may be placed in it. Such reasons being: elections - of both Commons Members and excepted hereditary peers; the holding of a peerage of some sort - which is somewhat time and legislation dependent; holding a position amongst the five ‘great sees’ of the Church of England; or holding one of 21 other senior positions in the Church. The peerage part of this relationified model is pretty much done, the Church of England requires a modicum of work and the next step is elections. Wish us luck.