Vive la Revolution & America’s Operating System

Earlier today, (imho) there was a trending-topic-in-the-making on Twitter — all of these tweets had two things in common: the phrase “Open Source the Law” and thanks to Public.Resource.Org and BoingBoing.  

Why?

Well, BoingBoing recently posted about the latest effort by Carl Malamud and Public.Resource.org to liberate “America’s operating system.” 

As Cory Doctorow summarizes, these “actions taken together are trying to establish a basic principle: the laws of our society need to be readily available for all to read, not locked behind a cash register.” 

What did Carl Malamud do? 

Malamud mailed off three letters (on Bastille Day) to the government asking for change.  The first letter was a request to the Executive Office of the President to make the Federal Register and Patent databases available for free in bulk;  the second letter was a FOIA request to the National Archives asking them to make the many pricey ANSI and UL standards that are ‘incorporated by reference’ (in the CFR) available for free; and the third letter (perhaps my favorite) is a request for a refund for the $17K spent on a defective bulk feed of the CFR. [To see the list of all these letters, plus earlier letters, visit public.resource.org’s GPO page.]

[P.S.  If these letters have got your heart beating a bit faster, perhaps you might be interested in signing the petition to improve PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records).]

US Constitution – in Graphic Form

This from BoingBoing:

“Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell’s The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation is a sweet, quick, thoroughgoing history of the US Constitution.”

I found more information about the book here, too.

Now to make the Federal Rules into a graphic novel….

SearchTogether

Today, on BoingBoing, there is a posting about TR35,  Technology Review’s list of innovators under 35. 

One of the super smart folks profiled in the list is Meredith Ringel Morris, 29, and her innovation is SearchTogether, a nifty tool that allows you to collaborate on web searches. 

The idea is so rich for education.  As the SearchTogether site describes, some of the features include: “group query histories, split searching, page-level rating and commenting, automatically-generated shared summaries, peek-and-follow browsing, and integrated chat.”

You can download the plugin for free, too.  (And, yes, we do love free things at LegalResearchPlus!)

Copyright Renewal Records

From Inside Google Book Search

“How do you find out whether a book was renewed? You have to check the U.S. Copyright Office records. Records from 1978 onward are online (see http://www.copyright.gov/records) but not downloadable in bulk. The Copyright Office hasn’t digitized their earlier records, but Carnegie Mellon scanned them as part of their Universal Library Project, and the tireless folks at Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders painstakingly corrected the OCR.”

“Thanks to the efforts of Google software engineer Jarkko Hietaniemi, we’ve gathered the records from both sources, massaged them a bit for easier parsing, and combined them into a single XML file available for download here.”

[Hat tip to BoingBoing for this news!]