My good neighbor Facebook

A slow news day, but a few items caught my eye about Facebook, my new down-the-street, around-the-block neighbor.

Today’s Financial Times has a full-page news analysis piece on Facebook, “What friends are for,” by David Gelles (p. 7).

With its leadership as an online social network more secure, Mark Zuckerberg’s company aims to build both revenues and an enduring presence on other sites — no easy task, writes David Gelles.

The article identifies “Four big challenges for a site both social and global:”

Money It may be on track to bring in more than $500m . . .  in revenues this year but Facebook is projected to spend more. . . .
Competition  Other companies are racing to build their own services to bring social experiences to the web. . . .  A consortium including MySpace and Google has backed a service that allows users to carry their identities around the web with a single login.
Regulation Facebook is building one of the biggest databases of personal data on the web. It has so far steered clear of battles with regulators but as it expands around the globe that may change. An advisory board to the European Commission last month proposed stricter privacy settings for all social networks to ensure private information is not abused.
Execution Managing its own headlong growth, and adapting and expanding its service without alienating existing users, are Facebook’s most direct challenges. . . ..

About Facebook’s global reach:

Even as he reacts to new threats, Mr Zuckerberg is intent on extending his company’s reach and deepening its connections with its members. In this, at least, he has shown some remarkable results. Facebook’s user numbers are growing quickly – more than half have signed up in the past year. It is available in 50 languages and in just about every country in the world. Perhaps most importantly, Facebook users seem to be addicted. The site, it turns out, is “sticky”. More than 100m users log on to the site at least once a day.

The company is thinking globally but acting locally.  Their new world headquarters is two blocks from my house, and I pass by on frequent neighborhood strolls.  One thing I really like is how someone is always working, or so it seems.  There’s no 8 to 5 rush in and rush out.  When I stoll by at 8:00 p.m., I always see a slow but steady exodus of people, many on bicycles. 

The San Jose Mercury News recently ran a front-page story about Facebook’s new headquarters, “Facebook grows into new home in Palo Alto’s power neighborhood,” by Will Oremus, which includes this information:

Whistling between workstations are Facebookers on skateboard-like gadgets called RipStiks. The workforce, 700 strong in Palo Alto and about 900 worldwide, remains dominated by contemporaries of 25-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Their exuberance appears to have survived the move.

It’s not all bicycles and RipStiks.  There are a lot of cars and they spill out onto the street and fill an auxilary parking lot that is about 6 or 7 blocks away.  A shuttle bus runs from the company to the auxilary lot, but every single time I’ve seen this shuttle it has been empty of passengers (maybe the rainy season will be different). 

The ever-popular Legal Scholarship Network apparently sees opportunity in Facebook too.  From Gregg Gordon’s (President, Social Science Research Network) 2009 Mid-Year President’s Letter:

In April, we started the SSRNblog ( As we have grown, we realized that not everyone knows our history or has access to news about the latest updates or changes to the website. The SSRNblog comes as a natural outcome of our desire to share information and keep the SSRN Community up to date. Hopefully, it will also enhance our already great connections with our users.

The SSRN Blog will not be a broadcast vehicle. We want to engage you in an ongoing conversation. Readers will get updates regarding SSRN’s eLibrary and services, weekly “Top Five” lists, and announcements of new networks, conferences, and presentations. Our posts will also explore and share our perspective on issues such as Open Access, new publishing models and directions for scholarly research, and the technologies that affect us all.

One of these technologies is social networking. Social networking allows people to connect in real time regardless of geography, or to access information no matter where it is stored. We see a plethora of opportunities for the SSRN Community to use these tools. As a first step, we have joined Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and are posting updates, announcements, and other items to them regularly. Here is how to find us:




Wonderful development in law librarianship today – Legal Information & Technology launched

From a SSRN announcement:

We are pleased to announce a new Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) Sponsored Subject Matter eJournal — Legal Information & Technology, sponsored by the Mid-America Law Library Consortium.


View Papers:
Preview the First Issue:


Editors: Randy J. Diamond, University of Missouri School of Law, and Lee F. Peoples, Oklahoma City University – School of Law
Sponsor: The Legal Information & Technology eJournal is sponsored by MALLCO, the Mid-America Law Library Consortium.


The consortium encourages and promotes cooperative endeavors among its member law school libraries in order to advance the research and educational opportunities of all member libraries, the institutions they serve, and the broader legal community.

Law schools from nine states are represented in MALLCO. Arkansas: University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, University of Arkansas-Little Rock; Illinois: Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University; Iowa: Drake University; Kansas: University of Kansas, Washburn University; Missouri: Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Washington University; Nebraska: Creighton University, University of Nebraska; North Dakota: University of North Dakota; Oklahoma: Oklahoma City University, University of Oklahoma, University of Tulsa; and South Dakota: University of South Dakota.

This eJournal includes working papers, forthcoming articles, and recently published articles in all areas of legal information scholarship. Topics include (but are not limited to):

The impact of legal information on domestic, comparative, and international legal systems;

The treatment of legal information authorities and precedents (e.g., citation studies);

The examination of rules, practices, and commentary limiting or expanding applications of legal information (e.g., citation to unpublished opinions and to foreign law);

The study of economic, legal, political, and social conditions limiting or extending access to legal information (e.g., trends in the legal publishing industry, intellectual property regimes, and open access initiatives);

The finding and use of legal information by academics to produce legal scholarship, by law students to learn the law, by attorneys in practice, and by judges and others decision makers to determine legal outcomes;

The history of legal information systems and technological advancements;

Legal information system design and assessment; and

The relationship of substantive areas of law (such as information law, intellectual freedom, intellectual property, and national security law) and other academic disciplines (e.g., information science) to legal information. This includes the scholarship of law librarians, other legal scholars, and other academic disciplines.

The eJournal also includes working papers, forthcoming articles, recently published articles, and selected documents (such as White Papers, briefings, reports, course materials) on the practice of law librarianship. Submissions are welcome in all areas of law librarianship including:

Administration, management, and leadership;

Facility design and construction;

Evaluating and marketing law library services;

All aspects of public, technical, and technology services;

Collection development, including sample collection development policies and procedures;

Electronic resource management and development including licensing, digitization, and institutional repositories;

Research and reference services; and

Legal research instruction teaching methods and substantial or innovative course materials.

Interdisciplinary Legal Research

The Taxonomy of Interdisciplinary Legal Research: Finding the Way Out of the Desert

MATHIAS M. SIEMS, University of Edinburgh – School of Law, University of Cambridge – Centre for Business Research (CBR)


This article identifies four different types of interdisciplinary legal research: one basic and three advanced types. Basic interdisciplinary research uses the same questions as starting points as traditional legal research, however, it also considers other academic disciplines in order to answer these questions. Advanced interdisciplinary research goes further: it can either deal with research questions that are not about the law as such (type 1), or incorporate “scientific methods” into legal thinking (type 2), or combine both (type 3.) This new taxonomy is useful in order to identify the benefits and difficulties of different types of interdisciplinary legal research.


A Dynamic Model of Interdisciplinarity: Limits and Possibilities of Interdisciplinary Research into Law

Tilburg University Legal Studies Working Paper No. 010/2008
Tilburg Working Paper Series on Jurisprudence and Legal History No. 08-02

BART VAN KLINK, Tilburg University – Jurisprudence & Legal History

SANNE TAEKEMA, Faculty of Law, Tilburg University


In the paper we will explore some of the major limits and possibilities of interdisciplinary research into law. In how far is the science of law open to insights from other disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, philosophy, economics and literature studies? We will approach this question by confronting two contrary positions: pragmatism (Dewey) that argues for the fundamental comparability and compatibility of theories on the one hand and positivism (Kelsen and Luhmann) that points to the limits thereof on the other. Following on this debate, we will present a dynamic model of interdisciplinarity in which different types of interdisciplinary legal research will be presented, moving from the monodisciplinary towards a fully integrated interdisciplinary perspective. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages of each type of interdisciplinary research into law will be discussed.


Source:  LSN Legal Writing Vol. 3 No. 13,  07/07/2008

Warming Up to User-Generated Content

Here’s a good example of why we like the Legal Scholarship Network so much.  Its LSN Property, Citizenship, & Social Entrepreneurism journal brought notice of this new working paper:

Warming Up to User-Generated Content

University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2008, No. 5, 2008

EDWARD LEE, Ohio State University – Michael E. Moritz College of Law

The most significant copyright development of the twenty first century has not arisen through any law enacted by Congress or opinion rendered by the Supreme Court. Instead, it has come from the unorganized, informal practices of various, unrelated users of copyrighted works, many of whom probably know next to nothing about copyright law. In order to comprehend this paradox, one must look at what is popularly known as “Web 2.0,” and the growth of user-generated content in blogs, wikis, podcasts, “mashup” videos, and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. Although users often create new works of their own, sometimes the works are “remixed” with copyrighted content of others.

The growth of user-generated content challenges the conventional understandings of copyright law under which copyrights are understood largely as static and fixed from the top down. Under this view, copyright holders are at the center of the copyright universe and exercise considerable control over their exclusive rights. Obtaining prior authorization from the copyright holder is typically assumed to be necessary for others legally to re-use the copyrighted work, apart from a fair or other permitted use (which often is not easy to determine in advance).

This Article challenges the conventional account of copyright law, particularly as applied to Web 2.0. The formalist understanding of copyright law ignores reality. The Copyright Act is riddled with gray areas and gaps, many of which persist over time because so few copyright cases are ever filed and the majority of those filed are not resolved through a judgment. My core thesis is that informal copyright practices – i.e., practices that are not authorized by formal copyright licenses, but whose legality falls within a gray area of copyright law – effectively serve as important gap-fillers in our copyright system.

The informal practices related to user-generated content provide a compelling example of this phenomenon. These practices make manifest three significant features of our copyright system that have escaped the attention of legal scholars: (i) our copyright system could not function without informal copyright practices; (ii) collectively, users wield far more power in influencing the shape of copyright law than is commonly perceived; and (iii) uncertainty in formal copyright law can lead to the phenomenon of “warming,” in which – unlike chilling – users are emboldened to make unauthorized uses of copyrighted works based on seeing what appears to be an increasingly accepted practice. In the Web 2.0 world, warming may serve as a powerful counterforce to the chilling of speech.




Source:  LSN Property, Citizenship, & Social Entrepreneurism Vol. 5 No. 13, 06/20/2008


And, by the way, anyone is more than welcome to copy any original content from Legal Research Plus.  However, attribution is nice to see.


Legal Scholarship Network – “Tomorrow’s Research Today”

We are huge fans of the Legal Scholarship Network, part of the Social Science Research Network, and not just because seemingly all of the Stanford faculty are its journal editors.  Many posts to Legal Research Plus come from the Legal Scholarship Network journals.  In our advanced legal research class we tell our students that HeinOnline covers the past of law reviews and that the Legal Scholarship Network presents the future.   Here is some interesting information from the 2008 SSRN Mid-Year President’s Letter which we received just today:


SSRN has reached several milestones this year and it’s only June. First, the SSRN eLibrary ( grew to 190,000 documents (and is growing at the rate of 40,000 documents per year), the number of SSRN authors now exceeds 95,000, and we are close to 22 million downloads to date. In December, I predicted we would reach 20 million downloads by this fall and I am delighted to be proven wrong. Downloads of full text documents have been averaging over 600,000 per month this year and we expect 25 million total downloads by the end of the year.

. . .

As SSRN’s use has increased so has its reputation as a source of scholarship. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the U.S. Supreme Court cited a SSRN working paper in its recent Boumediene v. Bush opinion (actually the second time a SSRN working paper was cited this year by the Court) and several law blogs report these to be the first ever citations to working papers in Supreme Court opinions. We are pleased to see that the Court values SSRN’s “Tomorrow’s Research Today.” Thanks to the law bloggers for keeping me informed and to all of you for contributing to SSRN’s scholarship.

Noam Cohen, from The New York Times, wrote an article ( last week about SSRN, discussing the effect of SSRN’s rankings on scholarship that you may find interesting. I have received complimentary emails and a few good ideas about improving SSRN as a result of the article. Tim Kane posted his interview of SSRN Chairman Michael Jensen regarding SSRN’s history on the Growthology Blog (

. . .

Gregg Gordon
Social Science Research Network

Collaboration in legal research and writing classes

Real Collaborative Context: Opinion Writing and the Appellate Process

Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Forthcoming

THOMAS D. COBB, University of Washington School of Law

SARAH F. KALTSOUNIS, University of Washington School of Law

Collaborative learning is crucial to law students’ intellectual development and professional formation. Yet something about the forms of collaboration we typically adopt has always produced the sense that collaborative learning has failed to achieve some of its most ambitious goals. This article articulates a more engaging and empowering approach to collaboration, one that asks law students to participate in aspects of legal practice or judging that involve group decision making – such as appellate judging. By participating in these processes, students gain a more sophisticated understanding of judicial decision making, and how its social aspects influence legal reasoning. In addition, students and teachers who experiment with these collaborative reasoning processes may position themselves to help improve group decision making in a variety of areas of legal practice.

Source:  LSN Young Scholars Law APS Vol. 5 No. 27,  06/18/2008

What Google Knows: Privacy and Internet Search Engines

This blogging is fun.  One aspect I enjoy is reading the search terms that people used to find our content.  Some recent search terms were: international legal research, atms for books, “advanced legal research” ideas,, espresso book machine, greenversations, detroit mercy law school, bloomberg law citator, “bloomberg law citator,” and google books.  But I cannot tell who out there used these search phrases.  But Google knows, and that raises concerns, as this working paper indicates.

What Google Knows: Privacy and Internet Search Engines

OMER TENE, College of Management – School of Law, Israel

Search engines are the most important phenomenon on the Internet today and Google is the gold standard of search. Google evokes ambivalent feelings. It is adored for its ingenuity, simple, modest-looking interface and superb services offered at no (evident) cost. Yet increasingly, it is feared by privacy advocates who view it as a private sector big brother posing perhaps the biggest privacy problem of all times. Google is an informational gatekeeper harboring previously unimaginable riches of personal data. Billions of search queries stream across Google’s servers each month, the aggregate thoughtstream of humankind, online. Google compiles individual search logs, containing information about users’ fears and expectations, interests and passions, and ripe with information that is financial, medical, sexual, political, in short – personal in nature. How did Google evolve from being a benevolent giant seeking to do no evil into a privacy menace reviled by human rights advocates worldwide? Are the fears of Google’s omniscient presence justified or overstated? What personal data should Google be allowed to retain and for how long? What rules should govern access to Google’s database? What are the legal protections currently in place and are they sufficient to quell the emerging privacy crisis? These are the main issues addressed in this article.


Source: LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 1 No. 2,  06/10/2008

Reflections on Oklahoma City University School of Law’s Certificate in American Law Program

Reflections on Oklahoma City University School of Law’s Certificate in American Law Program

International Association of Law Schools, Forthcoming

LEE F. PEOPLES, Oklahoma City University – Law Library

This paper was accepted for the 2008 International Association of Law Schools’ Educational Program. It outlines the educational, cultural, and professional programs offered during Oklahoma City University School of Law’s Certificate in American Law Program. The paper discusses the challenges of introducing Chinese law students to American legal ethics, legal research and writing in America, and American trial practice. The relevance and importance of these subjects to Chinese law students are discussed.


Source: LSN Comparative Law Vol. 8 No. 55,  06/09/2008

Employing Active-Learning Techniques and Metacognition in Law School

Interesting article here, one with particular relevance for teaching legal research.  The classes where we lecture the most are exhausting for us and, frankly, the message doesn’t appear to “stick” very well with our students.  We instructors need to talk less and have the students do more for successful learning, and this article offers some good ideas.


Employing Active-Learning Techniques and Metacognition in Law School: Shifting Energy from Professor to Student”

University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, Vol. 81, 2003
St. John’s Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-0125

ROBIN BOYLE, St. John’s University School of Law

What is metacognition and why have your students engage in it? Metacognition is an instructional tool that “shifts energy from professor to student.” Researchers in fields of psychology and education have found metacognition to be an effective method to engage students in the learning process. Law students are diverse in their learning styles, according to assessments performed annually at St. John’s University School of Law. Law professors are encouraged to engage students in active learning and metacognitive exercises. This article presents examples of teaching techniques involving active engagement and metacognition.

Source: LSN: St. Johns University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series Vol. 10 No. 4,  06/05/2008

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