Sunday, November 15, 2009

Is Britain controlled by a powerful clique?

I have often heard it alleged that Britain is controlled by a clique of powerful people who are tied together by family relationships attended the same schools and are members of the same clubs. It is often hard to know if this is factually correct or not.

Channel 4 has recently launched a web site who knows who, which attempts to document the facts. The site grew out of research done for a program "When Boris met Dave" which examines the many links between Boris Johnson the mayor of London and David Cameron the leader of the conservative party. At first glance it is a very interesting site, but the interface is not very good. The maps do not seem to be visible at all in Firefox and even in Chrome the maps appear more flashy than actually useful. For example you can only browse from a single person, school or club and then navigating through their connections, but I would really like to be able to put in two names and have the system find the connections that exist between them (if any).

The data is far from complete. For example, if you relied on the information from the site you would think that only 8 people ever attended Eton College. However, Channel 4 are hoping that viewers will extend the data and have even suggested that they will Open Source the code behind the site in the future. I will be watching carefully to see how this evolves.

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