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Openlaw project

by David Garcia (via nettime) Thursday, Dec. 06, 2001 at 1:00 AM

"By using the Internet, we hope to enable the public interest to speak as loudly as the interests of corporations. "

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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