Introducing WhoseKidAreYou

I’d like to introduce you to a new project. The other day, I was reading an imbecilic union-bashing editorial by one “Hugo Rifkind”, and I wondered….whose kid are you? Wikipedia informed me that diary columnist (it’s like a journalist but not quite) Rifkind is indeed the former Defence and Foreign Secretary’s son, and he’s “written” a “book” about “the London media world” called Overexposed Overexposure, which kicks the bottom out of the rotting barrel of satire.

And there, I had it – we need a Web site to monitor nepotism, and backscratching influence-peddling more generally. WhoseKidAreYou! There’s been quite a lot of work on designing machine-readable ways of expressing relationships between people, but to start with, I reckon we need a decent wiki server or else perhaps a Django install, and the British journalists section of Wikipedia as a start. We can crowdsource the rest; we’ve got bitterness and resentment on our side, plus a powerful kicker of personal loathing!

We’ll need to hold basic biographical data, plus job and publication history, a link to corresponding Wikipedia data, and of course, the crucial affiliations. Not just WhoseKidAreYou, but also WhoseThinktankDoYou”Work”For. Once we’ve got a reasonable amount of data, we can think about social-graph visualisations and other fancy twirls; we could also do a browser extension that picks out bylines, searches the DB in background, and shows a notification. “Did you know this was written by Christopher Hitchens’ illegitimate son, working for a thinktank founded by Douglas Murray?”

I am deadly serious about this, and I would like your comments. The project isn’t really suited to – it’s far from neutral and it’s explicitly partisan and generally vicious – so it’ll have to be unilateral. I’ve set up a Google group (aka a mailing list/usenet group) over here.

UPDATE: More is here, including how to take part.

UPDATE UPDATE: Hugo Rifkind has been in touch, to point out that I misspelled the title of his book.

  1. There might be data protection act questions that would need to be addressed, but that shouldn’t stand in your way.

  2. Interesting idea – but doesn’t allow for those (perhaps rare but important) occasions where the apple has fallen far from the tree…

  3. Before I broke into academia, I worked for twelve and a half years as a computer programmer and system administrator, employed by a utility company, a local authority and an insurance broker. Now that‘s “far from the tree”, or it would have been if my father had been Malcolm Rifkind (or Terry Eagleton, come to that). Let the apple fall into a life of mundane obscurity of the type lived by 99.9% of us and it’ll be safe from inclusion in the HarrowellBase.

  4. Sylvain

    I agree heartily to this idea.
    My favorite browser extension project so far !

  5. Cian O'Connor

    eh? If the apple had fallen far from the tree then it would pretty obvious in the entry:
    David X: Father dustman.

    Though obviously Phil’s larger point stands.

  1. 1 Socialists win big in Greece | afoe | A Fistful of Euros | European Opinion

    […] Papandreou was the son and grandson of previous Prime Ministers. I would say Greece needs a whosekidareyou site, but on the other hand probably not — it’s not exactly a […]

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