Land Matrix: Data and Visualizations Concerning Large Real Property Transactions

Land Matrix is a free and open database of large land transaction data, with visualization tools.

Land Matrix is operated by a group of organizations including International Land Coalition and GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies / Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien.

Here is a description of Land Matrix, from the project’s frontpage and About page:

The Land Matrix is a global and independent land monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment.

This website is our Global Observatory – an open tool for collecting and visualising information about large-scale land acquisitions. [...]

In the Global Observatory, a deal is referred to as an intended, concluded or failed attempt to acquire land through purchase, lease or concession that meets the criteria defined below.

The Global Observatory includes deals that are made for agricultural production, timber extraction, carbon trading, industry, renewable energy production, conservation, and tourism in low- and middle-income countries.

Deals must:

  • Entail a transfer of rights to use, control or ownership of land through sale, lease or concession;
  • Have been initiated since the year 2000;
  • Cover an area of 200 hectares or more;
  • Imply the potential conversion of land from smallholder production, local community use or important ecosystem service provision to commercial use.


According to the project’s Website, the Land Matrix database currently contains data on 1,021 transactions.

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Ceci: The Role of Argumentation Theory in the Logics of Judgements

Marcello Ceci of University College Cork has published The Role of Argumentation Theory in the Logics of Judgements, in Michał Araszkiewic et al. (Eds.), Problems of Normativity, Rules and Rule-Following (Springer 2015).

Click here to access some portions of the chapter on Google Books.

Here is the abstract:

The present paper represents an effort towards the acquisition of an acknowledged standard for the rule and logics layer of the semantic web stack of technologies. It is part of a broader research trying to improve the state-of-the-art of legal knowledge representation by facing its main issues: the gap between document representation and rule modeling, and the need for a shared standard in the logic layer to represent legal reasoning. The paper focuses on the upper part of the semantic web stack, namely the rules and logics layers: here, the Carneades Argumentation System supports the reproduction of judicial argumentation through a ruleset and a knowledge base imported from an OWL/RDF ontology. Being based upon the theories of argumentation developed by Gordon and Walton, Carneades supports argumentation schemes and uses them as templates while instantiating rules, ontology and cases into argument graphs. We argue that using argument schemes is the only viable choice to represent legal reasoning properly, and for this purpose, the concept of argument scheme should include templates that represent procedural aspects of legal processes, such as the acts available to the parties during a court trial. Even if emerging standards in rule representation (such as LegalRuleML) overcome many of the limitations of precedent languages, they lack a complete model of the argumentation process. This, as the paper tries to demonstrate, prevents the representation of legal arguments in their procedural aspects and in those aspects related to patterns and tasks of argumentation, hindering its capability to perform a correct evaluation of the acceptability of legal arguments. In order to support that claim, two examples are provided. The concluding remarks broaden the perspective to include the general need for a standard in legal reasoning engines.

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Čyras and Lachmayer: Toward Multidimensional Rule Visualizations

Vytautas Čyras and Friedrich Lachmayer have published Toward Multidimensional Rule Visualizations, in Michał Araszkiewic et al. (Eds.), Problems of Normativity, Rules and Rule-Following (Springer 2015).

Here is the abstract:

This paper reviews visualizations in legal informatics. We focus on the transition from traditional rule-based linear textual representation such as “if A then B” to two- and three-dimensional ones and films. A methodology of visualization with the thought pattern tertium comparationis can be attributed to Arthur Kaufmann. A tertium visualization aims at a mental bridge between different languages. We explore how visualizations are constructed and what types can be found here. Review criteria comprise comprehension, relations, vertical-horizontal arrangement, time-space structure, the focus of attention, education, etc. Picture for review are selected from JURIX 2012 proceedings. We conclude that making visualizations as avante-garde as JURIX projects themselves is a tough task that requires knowledge of law, computing, media, and semiotics.

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Colarusso: Beta release of new programming language for lawyers: QnA Markup; Comments welcome

David Colarusso of Public Counsel Services has released a beta version of a new programming language for lawyers, called QnA Markup, and he welcomes comments on it.

The project’s Website is at:

The code is available at:

The project’s wiki is available at:

Here is a description, from the wiki:

QnA is a simple markup language for people with little or no programing experience. It was designed with attorneys in mind and transforms blocks of nested text into interactive QnAs. These QnAs can be used as stand-alone expert systems or in the aid of rule-based document construction (see example). You can find a live implementation of a QnA Markup editor and interpreter at [...]

A collection of QnA projects can be found on the Gallery page of this wiki, contributions welcome. [...]

HT @Colarusso

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MIT Legal PrototypeJam, 14-16 November 2014, Boston, Massachusetts: Links and resources

MIT Legal PrototypeJam is being held 14-16 November 2014, at District Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

The Webpage for the event is at:

The blog for the event is at:

Projects worked on at the event are listed at:

GitHub resources for this event are linked from:

One Twitter hashtag for the event is #prototypejam

Click here for a storify of photos and Twitter tweets from the event.

Additional photos from the event appear at:

Here is a description of the event, from the event’s Webpage and blog:

The MIT Human Dynamics Lab, in collaboration with LawGives, UMKC Law School, Brooklyn Law School and the MIT Kerberos & Internet Trust (MIT-KIT) Consortium, are working with City of Boston and Kansas City, MO to design and prototype an open source next generation interface for business interactions with city governments.

Designed to work for key interaction types such as business permits, small business assistance and grants, this collaboration will culminate with a combination of creative commons open licensed design-phase conceptual use cases and prototype open source, free and documented code. The creative commons and open source software license covering PrototypeJam contributions ensures that easch collaborator and any city is free to use, contribute to or fork any of the projects worked on together.

‘Every Wednesday from 4pm-6pm EST this projects related to this collaboration are developed by one or more of the partners at regular class sessions hosted by the MIT Media Lab, UMKC Law School and Brooklyn Law School. An in-person prototype jam event is planned for November 14-16 when all the collaborators can work together on the project and plan a prototype user engagement test and final semester demo presentation.

The November PrototypeJam is [... intended] to focus on use case iteration describing the intended functions and interactions for each project and rapid prototyping of each project to provide meaningful design review, practical feedback and solution development.

This in-person event is focused on providing space for current collaborators and invited contributors to work on existing project together. Additional tables at the venue and online channels will be available for members of the public who wish to contribute to the projects being prototypes at this event. For more information on how to contribute contact us [...].

The PrototypeJam is organized by researchers focused on Computational Law and Big Data Systems the MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Group. This event is an in-person meeting of an informal semester-long collaboration convened by the MIT Media Lab, who may be contacted here for more information on this collaboration and how other parties may get involved.

Dazza Greenwood of MIT’s Computational Law research program says that the event will include “a legal agreements and terms of use team working on a review of OpenID Connect and broader OAuth 2 legal terms and the language of user grants of permissions.”

For more details, please contact Dazza Greenwood’s Computational Law research team at MIT.

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Storify: Discussion of open source for courts

An interesting discussion of open source software for courts took place on Twitter on 12-13 November 2014, and included contributions by John Mayer, Brian Carver, Ansel Halliburton, and Amy Wan.

Click here for a storify of the discussion.

HT @johnpmayer

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Orozco: Democratizing the Law: Legal Crowdsourcing

David Orozco of Florida State University has posted Democratizing the Law: Legal Crowdsourcing (Lawsourcing) as a Means to Achieve Legal, Regulatory and Policy Objectives, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

This article defines the emergent practice of lawsourcing, which is an extension of the increasingly popular crowdsourcing model. As defined in this article, lawsourcing occurs when a party releases an open call to online participants that requests their support to achieve a legal objective. This online call may involve private or governmental participants that leverage a crowd to achieve a legal objective. Various lawsourcing techniques fall under this umbrella and are described in this article. These practices fall under the following three broad categories: legal Q&A platforms, government participation forums, and strategic nonmarket practices. As discussed in the article, lawsourcing leverages the positive economic and social aspects of crowdsourcing. These qualities provide the foundation for lawsourcing to be a disruptive force in the current legal environment. The positive attributes of lawsourcing also indicate that it can be a powerful instrument to achieve legal reform, greater transparency with respect to the quality of legal services and improved access to the legal system.

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