My need for a “focus assistant.”

Can technology offer us “continuous augmented awareness?”

An earlier post here, commenting upon an article a year ago in The Atlantic, asked, “Is Google making us stoopid?”  Now an article in the July / August 2009 issue of the same magazine asks, “Is Google actually making us smarter?”

The article, “Get Smart,” by Jamais Cascio, discusses how Twitter can help us move from a world of “continuous partial attention” to one of “continuous augmented awareness.”  I’m a fan of Twitter but I find it hard to quickly sift through tweets about pancakes to the ones that provide truly valuable and timely information (not that pancakes aren’t important, but I use Twitter mainly for work).  Here’s what Mr. Cascio writes:

But imagine if social tools like Twitter had a way to learn what kinds of messages you pay attention to, and which ones you discard. Over time, the messages that you don’t really care about might start to fade in the display, while the ones that you do want to see could get brighter. Such attention filters–or focus assistants–are likely to become important parts of how we handle our daily lives. We’ll move from a world of “continuous partial attention” to one we might call “continuous augmented awareness.”

The article suggests that:

The trouble isn’t that we have too much information at our fingertips, but that our tools for managing it are still in their infancy.

New content on Public.Resource.Org

Carl Malamud, copyfighter, has just added new content to Public.Resource.Org.

Over 300 documents and files from the Federal Judicial Center are now posted at and

Included in the collection: Benchbook for U.S. District Court Judges, Citations to Unpublished Opinions in the Federal Courts of Appeals, and a Primer on the Civil-Law System.

Bloomberg Law Digest

As part of its continuing Bloomberg Law (BLAW) ramp-up — which we have been blogging about at times here (see our May 16, May 29 and June 5 posts), Bloomberg is developing its Bloomberg Law Digest (BBLD) research tool, which features indexed, integrated primary and secondary legal sources in an expanding number of practice areas. At present, Bloomberg offers: antitrust & trade, banking & finance, bankruptcy law, corporate law, data & information law, energy law, insurance law, intellectual property, labor & employment, mergers & acquisitions, privacy law, and securities law.

Google Book Search Bibliography

Google Book Search Bibliography

by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.
Publisher, Digital Scholarship

This bibliography presents selected English-language articles and other works that are useful in understanding Google Book Search. It primarily focuses on the evolution of Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. . . .

Source:  The Chronicle of Higher Education The Wired CampusThe post, by Catherine Rampell notes that the author of the bibliography, Charles W. Bailey, Jr.,

 . . . has written extensively about Google Book Search as well as open access and e-books.


Note: The Stanford Law Library is a participant in the Google Books project.  Here’s more information about Stanford’s involvement.


And today Mr. Bailey just posted to law-lib a post about his  “Version 72, Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography.”

Version 72 of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography is now available from Digital Scholarship. This selective bibliography presents over 3,250 articles, books, and other printed and electronic sources that areuseful in understanding scholarly electronic publishing efforts on the Internet.

This version adds hundreds of links to freely availablejournal articles from publishers as well as to e-prints ofpublished articles housed in disciplinary archives and institutional repositories. All article references were checked for the availability of such free content.

. . .

Tools of the Trade, part IV

In terms of tips, this one is more a love letter.  And while I have focused my first three “tools” posts on web-based resources, this one is about a book.  But not just any book. 

I was first introduced to Tapping the Government Grapevine  by its author, Judith Schiek Robinson, my Government Documents professor in library school.  Since then, it has been a go-to resource for everything from tracking down government produced statistics to being used as a teaching aid in legal research classes.  Despite a publication date of 1998, Tapping has aged well with the introduction of many new government e-resources.  This book can ground any student in the basis of government publications.

Bloomberg Law Congressional Bill Alert function

From the “What’s New” page of the July 2008 issue of Bloomberg Markets (p. 176):

Tracking Congressional Bills

The Bloomberg Law Search function now lets you set alerts to notify you of the progress of U.S. House or Senate Bills.  To track House bills related to hedge funds, for example, . . .

Reconfiguring Law Reports and the Concept of Precedent for a Digital Age

One of the joys of my job is that I get to see everything new that comes into the library — every new book and every journal issue passes my desk before finding a home in the stacks.  Today volume 53, issue #1 of the Villanova Law Review was in my pile and I discovered this terrific article by Peter W. Martin (Legal Research Plus is a fan of his, see earlier post, “Finding and Citing the ‘Unimportant’ Decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeals.”).  The present article is also a Legal Scholarship Network paper, but somehow I missed it there (so having print subscriptions is a good redundancy).

The Legal Scholarship Network page includes this abstract:

Adherence to the “rule of law” entails a strong commitment to consistency – a belief that throughout a jurisdiction and across time judges should treat like cases alike. For over a century, the U.S. judiciary’s pursuit of this aim has relied principally upon print law reports. With unsettling rapidity, digital technology has dislodged that system, in practical fact, if not yet in the way lawyers and judges talk and think about case law. This article explores gains one might hope for from a “judicial consistency” system liberated from the constraints of print, likely affects on concepts of precedent, as well as challenges and forces of resistance standing in the way of change.

Professor Martin divides his article thusly:

I. Introduction

II. Precedent Dissemination in the Pre-Digital Era

     A. Public Law Reports

     B.  Public Law Libraries

     C. Commercial Law Reports: The National Reporter System

     D. Unpublished Appellate Decisions

     E.  The Disappearance of Independent State-Published Reports

III. The Arrival of Virtual Law Reports and Virtual Law Libraries

     A. Lexis and Westlaw

     B. New Players in This New Environment

IV. The Problematic and Costly Status Quo

     A. Costs or Inefficiences Resulting from the Continued Dominance of Print Concepts and Practices

 1. Citation Norms Still Dependent on Print

 2. Public Accessible Digital Opinions: Neither Official Nor Final

 3. Risk of Inconsistent Versions

 4. The Temptation to Trade Privileged Data Access or Official Status for Online Services

 5. Market Dominance Reinforced, Competition Inhibited

     B. Simple Means for Court Systems to Re-Establish Public Control Over the Dissemination of Their   Precedent

V. Opportunities for Richer and More Expansive Conception of Precedent Once Digital Dissemination Displaces Print as the Official Channel.

     A. Removal of the Sharp Dichotomy Between Decisions That Are Published and Those That Are Not

     B. Inclusion of Trial Court Decisions in the Flow of Precedent

     C. Opinions Structured Not Merely For Print But For Digital Distribution, Navigation and Search

     D. Precedent Augmented by Related Data

     E. Opinions Employing More Than Text

VI. Institutional Inhibitions and Sources of Resistance

VII. Conclusion

Open Access: Problems of Collective Action and Promises of Civic Engagement

Open Access: Problems of Collective Action and Promises of Civic Engagement

NICHOLAS BRAMBLE, Harvard Law School

As universities increasingly consider open access, as an initiative and mode of scholarship, they inevitably engage with broader civic values around knowledge, authority, and the nature of traditional scholarship. How might open access act as an extension of the social and societal role that universities and libraries have traditionally played? How does it also forge a new path? These questions lurk beneath many of the arguments for and against open access, and provide an instructive way of measuring the likelihood of success of various university and Congressional open access proposals.

This article seeks first to address why academic researchers have not yet adopted open access tools in large numbers. Part II situates open access with respect to the traditional purposes of publishing – increasing a work’s accessibility, publicity, and trustworthiness – and contrasts its vibrancy in fulfilling these functions with the increasingly noncompetitive and stagnant market for traditional scholarly publishing. Part III strikes up a conversation with researchers and publishers by responding to the primary concerns fueling academic resistance to open access and explaining how a shift away from subscription journal-based publishing might affect knowledge-sharing in universities. Part IV contextualizes this conversation with respect to recent institutional advocacy and legislative attempts to ensure public access to publicly funded research. Finally, Part V offers some provisional normative conclusions as to how we can most effectively use the law in conjunction with institutional advocacy to create open regimes of scholarly publishing.


Source:  LSN Cyberspace Law Vol. 13 No. 36,  06/02/2008

Comparative Constitutional Analysis Web site:

Dr. Arne Mavčič of Slovenia maintains an interesting site,, devoted to visually representing comparative constitutional analysis. Maps, charts and tables illustrate which countries follow different models of constitutional adjudication, such as American style judicial review  or German style constitutional courts. The site also includes PowerPoint presentations and links related to comparative constitutional review. This site should be useful to those compiling surveys of constitutional rights and controversies across many countries.