2021 - Week 30

Work experience

This week we were delighted to welcome Singrid to our team of crack librarians and computational experts. And young Robert. And Michael. Singrid has just completed her first year at university - a year which saw educational contact piped through Zoom, social contact reduced to the four people she shares a flat with, and friends fined £600 each for attempting to attend a party - and was keen to experience the thrills, spills and raw political excitement of Westminster’s favourite palace. Unfortunately for Singrid, the parliamentary estate is not currently accepting visitors. So poor Singrid spent her work experience in Michael’s front room, listening to an old man go on, and on, about the joys of machine reasoning over logically expressed parliamentary procedure. Neither subjects, it seems fair to assume, are of much interest to an 18 year old. I think we can all agree Singrid has had a pretty bad year.

Kind hearts and coronets

Nevertheless, Singrid was lucky enough to sit in on a chat with Librarian Ned and Michael as they picked apart a couple of peerage data related emails from David. We’re running our test peerage website with the latest of David’s data dumps, bringing us right up to date with Baroness Davidson of Lundin Links. What had been a list of suspected data errors is now fixed; it only remains for David to add a scattering of announcement types to our peerage records and we’re almost ready to go live.

On the subject of which, James got in touch with a link to the latest iteration of his editable peerage website. Ned and Michael spent a good hour attempting to click everything and CRUD everything. A bug report was dispatched to James and, by Friday, most of it was fixed. We’re not quite ready to share. If you want to be amongst the first to the peerage party, remember to like and subscribe!

In the course of parsing David’s emails a new - or rather forgotten - fact came to light. In normal circumstances, a peerage holding will end upon the death of the holder. Nobility not being recognised in the afterlife. But in cases where the holder becomes King or Queen, the peerage as a whole will be merged into the Crown and the holding will cease likewise. We had been intending to use start and end properties from our utility model to capture the lifespan of a peerage holding, but this new information felt worth documenting. So Ned, Robert and Michael have added peerage holding start on and peerage holding end on dates to our peerage model. A model which we now believe to be complete. If you’re a peerage expert, please take a click and tell us what we’ve got wrong.

Modelling the gubmint

Singrid was also lucky enough to sit in on a pixel based meeting with Gavin, Anya, Chris, Robert and Michael. This to plot a course on how we might want to approach the modelling of government bodies, positions therein and their intersections with Parliament, for example laying papers and answering questions. All of which turns out to be much messier than anticipated. The taxonomy of government bodies alone being somewhat mind melting. Before we even get to the people and their positions. Gavin has put us in touch with Philip at the Institute for Government, who’s also been attempting to map this territory. We look forward to more chats. Thanks Gavin.

On the nature of time

Spoiled already by her exposure to procedure maps, peerages and the many and varied hierarchies of government bodies, Singrid’s good fortune was not to stop there. Wednesday saw her sit through another of Michael’s old man rants, this time on the design of decent databases. This was followed by conversations with Ned and Robert on the nature of parliamentary time. The first half hour of which was a no doubt gripping debate on whether to change the name of the Time Period class to Temporal Thing. A show of hands was taken and Temporal Thing it now is. We also borrowed the Kingdom class from our peerage model, from which we now hang Parliament periods and dissolution periods. Which is all very nice and neat. Comments have been fettled and the direction of all the predicates updated to point upwards. We’re fairly certain we now have a model that works for all upper level notions of parliamentary time, from kingdoms to Parliaments to sessions to terms to assorted flavours of sitting day. Please take a look.

Signposting the procedure maps

Week 29 saw Michael take a well deserved vacation and leave Librarian Jayne to deal with all things procedure map related. Her first job was pulling apart motions to extend period A in the CRaG treaty procedure, which had been componentised for both the Commons and the Lords. This work was born of the realisation that we’d done the same thing twice. And not for the first time. She then set about updating assorted keys across assorted maps to reflect our new arithmetic and signpost steps. And spent some time with Robert sense-checking Michael’s initial scribblings for the processing of arithmetic steps. Finally, she added step labels to our shiny new logical and arithmetic treaty map. A map so large that Omnigraffle now struggles to open it. So lord only knows how long and painful that was.

Upon Michael’s return it was Jayne’s turn to take a vacation. So Robert and Michael busied themselves checking our signpost step labels for both consistency and clarity, and rejigging their accompanying design note. Though by the time he woke up on Saturday morning, Michael was already wondering if what we currently call signpost steps should, in fact, be called summation steps. Time will tell.

In other logical and arithmetic news, our Jianhan has updated his handy little step checker email to deal with expected input and output counts from both arithmetic and signpost steps. So as we start to add the logical treaty procedure to the machines, the machines should have no cause to choke. We hope.