23 February 2008
Just got wind of a relatively new open web legal called PreCYdent. Their mission is clear:
“PreCYdent is based on two fundamental principles. First, we at PreCYdent believe that all lawyers, law librarians, law students, and the general public should have access to state-of-the-art search technology to help them navigate through the large and complex body of legal authority. We have heard law students ask, as perhaps you have, about online legal research: “Why can’t I just do my search with a few search words, like I do on Google?” PreCYdent has an answer to that question: Now you can. Second, we believe judicial opinions and statutes must be in the public domain, in practice as well as in theory. To us this means that effective legal research in all of these materials should be free to the user — not expensive, not inexpensive. Free. We believe this principle is of vital importance not only to the United States, but to all nations that practice or aspire to practice the rule of law.”
Yes, it’s a Google-like search experience but clunky and a little rough around the edges in terms of interaction and visual design. Still, up front prior to conducting a search there are few options–you really just enter keywords and go. Then, on the results side of things there are plenty of key filters.
It’s still in its alpha mode right now, so could turn out to be rather promising. Since it allows users to upload legal documents, it could turn into a very comprehensive collection much in the same way Wikipedia is for some of us THE place to turn for encyclopedic information.
7 February 2008
The internet allows for easily made and distributed copies: copies of documents, music, photos, whatever. Kelly asks some good questions:
“If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?”
why would we ever pay for anything that we could get for free? When anyone buys a version of something they could get for free, what are they purchasing? “
He then identified eight values that can’t be easily copied or cloned, which he calls generatives:
- Immediacy – How quickly do you get the copy of the thing you need?
- Personalization – To what degree is the copy customized to your tastes and needs?
- Interpretation – What services help you better understand or enjoy the copy?
- Authenticity – Is the copy what it says it is?
- Accessibility – How do I access the copy?
- Embodiment – How is the copy represented and presented?
- Patronage – Can I support the creator of the copy even if I can get it for free?
- Findability – How hard or easy is it for me to find the copy?
The recalls a recent talk I saw online of Chris Anderson, of Long Tail fame, speaking about the Abundance Ecomony. (Sorry – can’t find the video right now). If everything is moving towards being free or virtually free, how do businesses monetize their services? Advertising..yes, OK. But it looks like Kevin Kelly has given us a more robust framework to consider yet different ways.
I know Kelly mentions Authenticity, but I’d like to see more about credibility and authority too. Given the recent boom of credibility with the work of BJ Fogg, for one, that seems important enough to be a high-level generative. I guess Experience would come under Embodiment, but I’d have liked to have seem that more prominent or explicit.
13 January 2008
Daylife, one of my favorite news aggregator sites (probably because it’s one of the best designed news sites), is now offering news widgets. They have some of their own, but also invited anyone to create a share widgets too. The News Index widgets shows change in overall mention for various topics and people from week to week.
27 December 2007
Finally got around to watching Alex Wright’s Google Tech Talk entitled The Web That Wasn’t. Alex is the author of GLUT: Mastering Information Through the Ages, a book I don’t own yet but will be getting soon. The talk is based on the book and gives a tour of philosophical and direct precursors to the web. Fascinating stuff. He discusses Paul Otlet, Vannevar Bush, Eugene Garfield, Ted Nelson, and other. The talk is one hour long, but worth it.
Some of the lessons from looking at the history of early notions of networked systems:
- Top down and bottom up organization of information can work in concert with each other
- Two-way linking provides more information than one-way. (Of course, to this point I’d say that the web wouldn’t have taken off if two-way linking was mandatory.)
- Showing pathways and usage patterns is important information about information.
- Users can be authors and contributors
- The nature of interaction is more from the “oral” tradition
We can see some of these things on the web today, but looking at alternative systems (theoretical or real) still provides inspiration. It also reminds us that the “new” ideas and concepts–even things like Web 2.0–aren’t necessarily new. Overall, he points things in a broad perspective.
One point he makes quickly in the Q&A session: things like controlled vocabularies may have a place in bounded domains. The example he gives is MeSH. He mentions maybe there is a way to automate this, but the point is that we can learn from all the work done on developing controlled vocabularies to date. This mirrors a point I made in my presentation in Barcelona the Euro IA Summit and in an article for the ASIST Bulletin of the same title: Navigating the Long Tail.