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IBM’s Visual Bill Explorer

I’ve talked on Slaw before about IBM’s Many Eyes, the project from their research lab that lets you upload data and turn it into visualizations of various kinds. Now they’ve developed a version called Many Bills, a way of searching through the bills presented to the U.S. Congress (during 2009) to find and present topics buried within these lengthy documents.

A search for [copyright] for example yields 61 bills and 106 sections within them that touch on copyright. Each bill is presented as a narrow stripe (50 to a very wide page, in this case), with the sections . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Technology

Australia Frees Data

The Australian government has launched as the new home of Australian government public information datasets. There are more than 165 sets arranged into 30 or so categories, covering such topics as culture, planning, environment and education. The invitation on the site is to “[mash]-up the data to create something new and exciting!”. The datasets are in various formats — XML, XLS, ESRI Shapefiles, CSV, etc. — each accompanied by basic metadata.

The United States federal government offers an increasing number of federal datasets free via

Partly in response to the U.S. initiative, . . . [more]

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

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

I’ve been attending classes this week at the University of Victoria’s DHSI. From the website:

The Digital Humanities Summer Institute provides an environment ideal to discuss, to learn about, and to advance skills in new computing technologies influencing the work of those in the Arts, Humanities and Library communities.

Perhaps the only institute of its kind, attendees come from all over the world (in my class there are people from Europe, the US, and Thailand as well as Canadians from all parts). We have grad students, professors and librarians.

To get an idea of the content, have a look . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Reading, Technology

Many Eyes and a Legal Judgment

IBM’s ManyEyes [Slaw posts] has introduced a new visualization tool, Phrase Net, that graphically presents pairs of words in a text depending on the term that links them. Thus, if the linking term “a” is chosen, Phrase Net would find in the prior sentence “introduced | new” and “in | text”. The visualization comes with a menu of ready-made linkage terms, such as “and” “is” “‘s” etc. as well as a text box that lets you put in a linkage term of your choosing. (And for the sophisticates, there’s the ability to use regular expressions.)

I’ve uploaded . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Charter Disassembled

As I said I might, I did in fact “feed” IBM’s Many Eyes with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, just to see what a “tag cloud” for it would look like. You can get to it here, or by clicking on the image.

As you can see our anxieties — French, English, language — are writ large. (En anglais, il faut dire; je me demande comment la version français apparaîtrait et s’il y aurait des differences entre les versions…) I’m glad to see “law” is larger than “government.”

The site uses Java, so you’ll have to have that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Brazilian Constitution as a Word Cloud

Speaking of visualizing legal information, as I was just a post ago, here’s the Brazilian 1988 Constitution done as a “tag” cloud. It’s one of the Visualizations on Many Eyes, an IBM experimental particpatory sandbox. The graphic is linked to the site, and you’ll need Java on to see it. You can search for terms (in Portuguese, naturally) and the cloud display will give results that reflect your search term as it changes letter by letter.

I can’t say that this is ideally what I’d do to a legal document but it does at least give a different perspective. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

IBM’s “Many Eyes”

IBM is returning to an industry leading position in software. One of the things that is helping in this revival is their commitment to research labs in various places around the world. The IBM Watson Research Center at Cambridge (Mass.) houses the CUE Group (“Collective User Experience”), which is exploring, among other themes, interactive visualization. They’ve developed a Java app called Many Eyes, which is available through IBM’s Alphaworks, a point of release for trial software (and well worth visiting regularly).

From the “about” page:

Many Eyes is a bet on the power of human visual intelligence

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous