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Why You Should Take a Look at the Free / Open Source Software Movement

When talking about free / open source software, I am often surprised at the number of people today who still say to me – “if it is free it cannot be of any value”. Or those who ask – “what exactly is open source software?”. If you pardon the shameless use of the phrase, “long live free software” (or “vive le logiciel libre!”) ought to be the battle cry of the free software movement. Indeed, although not put that way by most proponents, that is the general sentiment.

What is free software? The Free Software Foundation maintains a definition of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Presentation Zen

My temporary return to teaching has got me using PowerPoint again, now de rigeur in today’s law school classroom, and it’s reminded me of my like-hate relationship with that tool. I’m certain that if anyone with serious presentation chops looked at our academic slides they’d be horrified, because we probably make every mistake in the book. But doing it right two or three times a week for hours at a stretch isn’t easy; it’s the rare bird who can combine personal passion with restrained verbiage on the big screen and get the timing right as well.

I’m sure our readers . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: Law Schools, Miscellaneous, Technology

The Friday Fillip

It’s show time! You bring the popcorn — and the willingness to look behind the silver screen, as it were. DigitalDomain is a special effects company that’s been part of a host of movies you’ve seen, and probably more ads than you wished. It works magic with bits and bytes and shows you how they’re integrated with the rest of the scene’s analog (i.e. real) actors and scenery. It’s all here — in movies, natch.

It probably makes most sense to start by viewing the “Company” reel, which contains a montage of what DD has done. And then you . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Do Wikis Belong in Law Firms?

Tuesday night I gave a presentation to Toronto Wiki Tuesdays about the use of wikis in law firms. On Monday, to get some additional ideas, I posted a message to Slaw asking for any new examples of wiki use in law firms since I wanted to present more than just wikis I had a hand in myself. The next day a very interesting discussion ensued on Slaw about whether wiki use is suitable for firms. This was a fantastic discussion, starting to really get at the heart of whether a firm should be using wikis and what really works. So . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Technology

Legal Vertical Search Tool Unveiled

The world’s largest legal vertical search engine launched yesterday according to a press release. The Public Library of Law (pLoL) has partnered with legal research provider Fastcase, Inc. It may be more of a directory than a search engine, even though Fastcase CEO Ed Walters claims it makes”first-time legal research as easy as using Google.”

What is available on PLoL?

* Cases from the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals
* Cases from all 50 states back to 1997
* Federal statutory law and codes from all 50 states
* Regulations, court rules, constitutions.

“Unlike other free resources,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

The Visigothic Code

I have prided myself from time to time on introducing Slaw readers to fairly arcane resources, but this may take the cake of abstruseness. The Visigoths, famous for sacking Rome, spread throughout Western Europe in the second half of the first millennium, reaching as far as what is now Spain and Portugal in what is known as the Kingdom of Toulouse. I confess I’d always thought of Goths as folks who wouldn’t bother much with law. Turns out I was wrong.

You can examine the Visigothic Code (in an English translation) on the Library of Iberian Resources Online, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law

Ozmosys – an E-Mail, Website and RSS Aggregator

[Note of disclosure: I do not have have any formal connection or relationship with Ozmosys, the company discussed below. However, while drafting this post I remembered I am part of a LexisNexis Canada advisory group and Ozmosys has partnered with Lexis. Clearly, though, that has not (and would not) influence me and LexisNexis generally invites all types of feedback, whether positive or negative. Despite the foregoing, I thought some SLAW readers might be interested in the product; hence this post.]

Yesterday I hosted for Toronto law firm and law library colleagues a demo at my firm by Ozmosys, a . . . [more]

Posted in: Uncategorized

Harvard Adopts an Open Access Mandate for Faculty Publications

As reported last night in The Chronicle of Higher Education,

Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a policy this evening that requires faculty members to allow the university to make their scholarly articles available free online.

The policy is described by the University Librarian Robert Darnton here. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Australian Government Apology

The recently elected Australian Government yesterday made a long awaited apology to the Stolen Generation of the Australian Aboriginal people. The broadcast can be heard here

By way of background, the apology was recommended by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families in 1997, also known as ‘Bringing them Home’, which can be found on Austlii. For many Australians this apology is long overdue. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

OA to US Case Law for Developers

Creative Commons and Public.Resource.Org have announced that they have made available the equivalent of 1,858 volumes of US Supreme Court and appeals courts decisions. The release is the first of a series to be made over the next few months, and there will also be an initial Requests for Comments period, when the technical suitability of the download will be discussed. More coverage at OA News. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous