I’m in the middle of putting up a large website for an organization and am confronting again all of the organizational difficulties that entails. I started out using an outliner to create the menu structure (architecture) of the site, so that I could get main pages, sub pages and so forth. (Somewhat surprisingly, MS Word has a decent outlining capability, though there are many beautiful small programs that do as well or better — TreePad under Windows and OmniOutliner under Mac OS X, for instance. One neat thing about Word outlines, though, is that they can be “sent” via a Word menu to PowerPoint, where, with minimal messing with the master slide, they become — hey presto! — a decent presentation.)
The beauty and the beastliness of outlines, of course, is that they are relentlessly hierarchical, whereas a web site, properly constructed, is not — or not only that. It is, after all, a web, and one in which, unlike an orderly spider, we delight in leaps and bounds, time-warps and wormholes, as it were. Which means that although an outliner works to describe aspects of a menu structure, it fails like any straight taxonomy to capture those hotlinked saccades.
What does this have to do with legal research? Well, not much, perhaps, if it’s a case of rushing the baby straight from the computer to paper. But where there’s a need to lay out a body of work and its interdependencies and linkages such that it becomes easy for someone else to understand and make it work, this might be the tool for you.