An idea that would make GitHub really interesting for Open Law

Successfully architected solutions do two things: First, they rely on existing open standards rather than reinventing the wheel. They rely on some of the internet’s greatest hits, things like OAuth and REST, and store data in formats born in the internet age, formats like GeoJSON and markdown. No licenses, no SDKs, just data. Second, they’re built as a dumb core with a smart edge. Upgrading a standard is a monumental task. Upgrading a tool is trivial. But more importantly, there’s room at the edge for experimentation, and with readily available libraries, amazing vehicles of empowerment like, something that nobody knew could exist six months ago, suddenly start appearing over night.

Ben Balter :: That’s not how the internet works

First, go read the article, it’s really good and packed full of interesting points. I’ll wait.
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Now imagine the CFR stored as data on GitHub. A GitCFR repository would be open to all and exposed to the APIs of GitHub. Besides using GeoJSON to locate fire hydrants in your neighborhood you could use GitCFR to find regulations relevant to the manufacture of those fire hydrants. Any API call would return just a specific piece of the regs that could be displayed as the app builder desires.

Of course any of this would require that the GPO set up a system for loading the CFR to GitHub so we don’t have to worry about issues of authenticity. While anyone can grab the bulk XML of the CFR from the GPO’s FDsys website and load it into GitHub, it really needs to the be done by the GPO so that developers can rely on the authenticity of the data.


I know, your first question is “What format?”, but that doesn’t really matter. It could be be JSON, Asciidoc, Markdown, XML, anything so long as it’s regular and structured.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5
That said it would certainly make for an interesting weekend project to throw some section of the CFR into GitHub and see what can be done with existing API calls.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5

Please Make PDFs Go Away…

Most law firms have a history of using Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) to distribute their brochures, papers and longer written pieces. That practice matches what web usability experts have long advised: “PDF is great for distributing documents that need to be printed,” but not much more than that. The well-traveled rule is that if a document contains more than five pages of text (hint: that excludes lawyer profiles), then PDF format is worth considering.

Now, let’s throw a wrench into this. As we approach the end of 2011, many firms and their their clients are moving toward paperless offices. Clients are consuming law firm publications on a variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and large multiple-monitor desktop environments. So how likely is it that we consume a PDF on printed paper? Not very.

Slaw – Revisiting PDFs for Law Firm Websites & Mobile Publishing

Finally someone has something useful to say about the future of PDFs. As someone who has to deal with found PDFs from all over the web, I can honestly say I wouldn’t miss them if they disappeared tomorrow. PDF is an excellent way to capture the artifact of the document page, but a PDF is not a web page, and PDF is not open data. PDF is a photocopy, a snapshot picture of a document. If you are interested in doing things like indexing data, repurposing data, reusing data, then a PDF is pretty useless.