Gavin Sheridan is joined by Mark Coughlan on a new blog resource called TheStory.ie, which aims not simply to open up data for public use, but they want volunteers to help them sort the data out so that it can be usefully interrogated. Mark explains what they want on a document that contains all the expenses for TDs and Senators from 1997 2008:
While the document as it stands contains all data relating to political donations published by SIPO (and its precursor) on every TD since 1997, its not complete. Were looking for help in finishing it. If you open it up and scroll across to column R youll see its called Background. This column is far from finished. If youve got a minute, pick a donation that has no Background information and try and find some details relating to the donor. Google, newspaper archives, wherever you can get information, and please try and verify it is the same person.
Additionally, if you can help us refine the Description of Donor column, wed appreciate it. Many of them are listed as Company or Individual and we havent had time to go through and give them a more accurate description, if you can take a minute and do a few we might get somewhere.
The aim is to have a document that we can analyse mathematically. So, were hoping to be able to say something like: Of all declared donations since 1997, X% came from people working in the property sector/Trade Unionism/Hotel industry, and then do the same by party and by year. Well also be able to give you information by party on the average value of donation, the largest donors, the occupations that donate the most, and more.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty