David Garcia on Tue, 4 Dec 2001 23:57:49 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Open Law

An exciting example of the extensibility of the opensource model is
Openlaw from the Berkman Center for Information and Society at the Harvard
Law School: http://eon.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/

"Openlaw is an experiment in crafting legal argument in an open forum.
With your assistance, we will develop arguments, draft pleadings, and edit
briefs in public, online. Non-lawyers and lawyers alike are invited to
join the process by adding thoughts to the "brainstorm" outlines, drafting
and commenting on drafts in progress, and suggesting reference sources.
Building on the model of open source software, we are working from the
hypothesis that an open development process best harnesses the distributed
resources of the Internet community. By using the Internet, we hope to
enable the public interest to speak as loudly as the interests of
corporations. Openlaw is therefore a large project built through the
coordinated effort of many small (and not so small)
contributions."....Building on the model of open source software, we
believe that an open development process best harnesses the distributed
resources of the Internet community. What we lose in secrecy, we expect to
regain in depth of sources and breadth of argument."

The Openlaw site also experiments with an neat set of collaborative tools
they are continually testing different tools to facilitate collective
discussion and collaborative development of argument. Different modes,
including web, email, and chat, help at different stages of the
development. My only reservation is that the current portfolio of cases
seems to emphasize copyright law and other issues revolving around
intellectual property. Although obviously of vital importance this surely
is just a beginning. Seeing the recent interview on nettime with Dee Dee
Halleck as well as the 360 degrees website by Picture Projects
<http://www.360degrees.org/> is a reminder of the wider issues at stake in
the US justice and incarceration system. But still this looks to be a
powerful tool that might well be re-purposed to meet a broader agenda.

David Garcia

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