Jason Wilson is a law publisher with great insights. He has a nice clean minimalist blog with great pics accompanying each post. More importantly, he’s interested in the kind of questions I’m also trying to answer, such as:
I have given considerable thought to this problem (and I have a greater interest in solving it than most), and I just don’t see how a Demand Media [sic?] or similar model could ever produce good or reliable analytical material.
But in the next breath he acknowledges that a lot of good stuff has indeed already been generated by the crowds and asks how we will organise that legal web. Actually the question is buried at the end of a dense post about “exploded data” (the value of analytical content).
My thought at this point is that the legal web is in an infancy that we can’t even fathom yet. There is cloud of associated information that our current computer assisted legal research vendors cannot give to us based on their algorithms, especially when they remain in walled-in gardens that don’t account for the vast and valuable information being created by users. The question is whether we will step up to organize this sea of data, or wait until a program can do it for us?
Moving on, in a more accessible post on Slaw he asks how we can effectively curate the legal web.
Curating this growing body of analytical content will be difficult. It suggests a person-machine process of locating and separating good content from bad, and categorizing, verifying, authenticating, and editorializing that content. It will undoubtedly require the creation of a rich taxonomy to help organize and manage the content for later discovery, clean metadata, and a good search engine, and raises issues from data permanency to copyrights to brand dilution. It’s a mess. But a worthy one I think.
and in the comments to that post:
I suppose the point to my post is whether we can wrap a wiki-like structure and interface around the legal web, and make it a destination for learning about both general topics and specific issues, rather than just a portal for all results that match search terms.
Yes we can! However clever the machine, these tasks – “locating and separating good content from bad, and categorizing, verifying, authenticating, and editorializing” – to a large degree require human intervention. But that intervention need only be light touch once we figure out how most effectively to harness the wisdom of the crowds.