It’s an open source tool for making transcripts easy to read, search and share on the modern internet.
Poplus is a global collaboration of groups that believe it is currently too difficult and expensive to build effective new digital tools to help citizens exert power over institutions. Poplus Components are loosely joined tools, mostly structured as web services, that can be used to radically decrease the development time of empowerment sites and apps.
Transcripts are a kind of oil that greases the wheels of well-functioning societies. They let people discover when powerful people have made pronouncements that affect less powerful people. We believe that by making transcripts function better, more people will end up learning about decisions and opinions that affect their lives.
SayIt has several advantages over classic paper or PDF versions:
At present, the best way to get your transcript online is to work with us to convert your data to the right format, and get it uploaded to a deployment, either running on our servers or your own – more details. This means that in the short-run we’ll be best able to work with technically skilled partners. Later on we’ll launch a version that will allow people without technical skills to login to an interface and author transcripts directly, through a web browser.
In web development, ‘Alpha’ is the name for a release of a piece of software which is far from complete. In the case of SayIt, we are launching early so that we can learn more about what features people want us to build, and which are less important. SayIt will enter Beta when we are able to share the transcript authoring interface with users.
Online video is definitely amazing stuff. But text transcripts offer certain virtues too, which makes them valuable in different ways. If you want to know whether a committee has been talking about you, or you want to subscribe to be sent alerts when your street gets mentioned by powerful people, then written transcripts, made of nicely structured data, are hard to beat. The ideal system would clearly mix written words, audio and video, and being open source we hope that SayIt can be integrated with other systems that specialise in AV. We’re keen to talk to people running projects in this field.
SayIt is open source, licensed under the Affero GPL, and you can check out the code in our GitHub repo. The data standard we use is a subset of the Akoma Ntoso data standard – a standard developed specifically for use in parliaments and assemblies.
Yes – we’re keen to see people use the site like this. Please contact us so we can discuss how best to implement this so it works well for you and us.
mySociety is an international organisation, and we’re very keen to get the first non-English transcripts online as soon as possible. Please contact us if you want to help us launch a non-English SayIt site.
There are plenty of options! Please see our dedicated page for developers.
Yes, please contact us if you want to discuss this feature. We understand that some organisations, for example newspapers, might want to run private databases of speeches for business purposes.
Yes, you don’t just have to record one event, like a trial or a focus group. You can build up nicely structured database of quotes made by people across media sources, or from books and papers. We would like to see people use SayIt to build sites like ‘all public statements by the Prime Minister’.
SayIt was mainly built by mySociety, and more specifically by Matthew Somerville, a senior developer. It was designed by Martin Wright and project managed by Tom Steinberg.
mySociety gets funding from various places, such as the Open Society Foundation, the Omidyar Network and profits from our own commercial work. SayIt was mostly funded by a grant from Google.org, though, for which we are very grateful.