mySociety’s Free our Bills! campaign

The ever inspiring mySociety launched its first campaign on Tuesday, with a characteristically simple, pragmatic and catalytic focus: to open up the legislative process to wider and more effective scrutiny by publishing Bills in a semantically marked-up form that can be automatically interpreted and used across the web in imaginative ways.

mySociety's Free our Bills! campaign

It’s a small, manageable change, with a potentially big pay back to public life. And it won immediate endorsement from David Cameron and Lynne Featherstone.

One of the most promising, but relatively underdeveloped, strands of the debate we mapped for Downing Street last summer about the systemic failings of the relationship between politics, the media, and the public, was exactly this potential for apparently small-scale changes that enable the power of the web to work at key points of leverage to transform the overall character of the system.

Long may mySociety continue to demonstrate this.

Ethics Bites: Sport and Genetic Enhancement

David Edmonds, award winning BBC World Service Radio producer, co-author of Wittgenstein’s Poker and Bobby Fischer Goes to War, and one of the smartest, most modest, and most decent people you could have the privilege to meet—full disclosure: we’re friends—has a new venture under way.

In cahoots with fellow philosopher and broadcaster Nigel Warburton, David is producing an excellent series of short philosophy podcasts with leading contemporary philosophers; which, with characteristic élan, has just exceeded 1 million downloads.

The original Philosophy Bites series features interviews with among others: Myles Burnyeat, Anthony Kenny, Melissa Lane, AC Grayling, and Kwame Anthony Appiah. It has also spawned a second, equally thought-provoking series, Ethics Bites, for the Open University; with interviewees including: Mary Warnock, Michael Sandel, and Peter Singer. The OU series is also a must for Trolley-ologists.

To celebrate David’s and Nigel’s millionth download, we thought that it might be fun to map one of the podcasts. So here’s my first rough take on Michael Sandel on Sport and Genetic Enhancement. Feel free to enhance any shortcomings on my part…

If you are interested in pursuing the arguments in more detail, Michael Sandel’s views on sport and genetic enhancement are set out in full in his book The Case Against Perfection and summarised in the Atlantic Monthly.

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