Pausing

There will be a temporary halt to new posts at Legal Informatics Blog until summer 2015, so that I can finish my dissertation. Many thanks for reading, and we’ll see you in a few months.

Posted in Algorithms | 3 Comments

Land: Participatory Fact-Finding: Developing New Directions for Human Rights Investigations Through New Technologies

Molly K. Land of the University of Connecticut has posted Participatory Fact-Finding: Developing New Directions for Human Rights Investigations Through New Technologies, forthcoming in The Future of Human Rights Fact-Finding (Philip Alston & Sarah Knuckey eds., Oxford University Press, 2015).

Here is the abstract:

This chapter considers the way in which broader participation in human rights fact-finding, enabled by the introduction of new technologies, will change the nature of fact-finding itself. Using the example of a participatory mapping project called Map Kibera, the chapter argues that new technologies will change human rights fact-finding by providing opportunities for ordinary individuals to investigate the human rights issues that affect them. ‘Those who were formerly the ‘subjects’ of human rights investigations now have the potential to be agents in their own right. This ‘participatory fact-finding’ may not be as effective in ‘naming and shaming’ states and companies that violate human rights because the absence of the imprimatur of an established organization may render the information collected vulnerable to critique. At the same time, new and more participatory techniques of investigation will be better suited to other forms of accountability. Participatory fact-finding has the potential to be fact-finding as empowerment — the collection of information and documentation of facts as means for empowering those affected by abuses to advocate for their change. Participatory fact-finding will also be more effective in documenting violations of the positive obligation to fulfill rights than traditional fact-finding methods because they offer opportunities for gathering more data than is possible through victim and witness interviewing.

By supporting local participation, new technologies provide an opportunity to bring the practice of human rights fact-finding into greater alignment with human rights principles. Utilizing new technologies to achieve greater participation in human rights fact-finding will allow human rights organizations to ‘practice what they preach’ — to integrate the principle of participation into their own work in addition to recommending it to states and other duty-bearers. There is and will continue to be a significant need for the kind of fact-finding done by large and established international human rights organizations. Yet documentation projects involving citizens have the potential to be a new kind of fact-finding — to look and function differently than fact-finding as generally practiced by the major international non-governmental organizations and the United Nations. By opening up who can participate in investigation, new technologies will not replace established methodologies, but will instead broaden our understanding of what counts as human rights documentation and the purposes such investigations serve.

Posted in Applications, Technology developments, Technology tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech for Justice Hackathon+ Austin: Results, storify, links, and resources

Tech for Justice Hackathon+ Austin was held February 21-22, 2015 in Austin, Texas, USA.

The event was organized by the Internet Bar Organization.

Video describing the results and winners of the event is available at: ustream.tv/recorded/59169768

Video of the project presentations at the event is at: ustream.tv/recorded/59166164

The Twitter account for the event is @TechForJustice

One Twitter hashtag for the event was #techforjustice

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

Here is a description of the event, from the registration site:

[…] This legal hackathon will gather programmers, lawyers, technologists, UI& UE designers, public and private sector organizations and government agencies to tackle how to allow EVERYONE to avail themselves of our justice system, or to find methods of achieving informal justice.

TECH FOR JUSTICE Hackathon+ Austin is working in partnership with the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Judicial Council, Texas Legal Services Center, Legal Services Corporation, and more. This hackathon is unique in its direct partnerships with legal and judicial institutions, and will focus on the creation of solutions that will directly apply to the improvement of state court systems, as well as private justice mechanisms.

Participants will spend the weekend of February 21st and 22nd tackling problems and producing proof of concepts and prototypes that will be curated and presented to worldwide audiences. After the Hackathon, participants will be incentivized to continue to develop their ideas through mentoring, data sharing, and public-private partnerships to bring ideas to fruition. […]

Want to attend? Reserve your spot now and let us know if you’re a coder, legal professional, or just want to participate in general.

Want to participate remotely? Sign-up to participate from anywhere in the world.

All registrants will be the first to receive the latest info on the Hackathon and have the opportunity to take part in events prior to the Hackathon.

Want to watch the livestream? Sign up to take a front row virtual seat via our live webcast of the event in Austin. Livestream registration does not allow for participation in the event. If you want to participate, we recommend you sign up for remote participate as soon as possible, as participant numbers will be capped. […]

HT @TechForJustice

Posted in Applications, Conference resources, Hackathons, Hacking, Storify, Technology developments, Technology tools, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tech for Justice Hackathon+ Austin: February 21-22, 2015

Tech for Justice Hackathon+ Austin is scheduled to be held February 21-22, 2015 in Austin, Texas, USA.

The event is organized by the Internet Bar Organization.

The Twitter account for the event is @TechForJustice

One Twitter hashtag for the event is #techforjustice

Here is a description of the event, from the registration site:

[…] This legal hackathon will gather programmers, lawyers, technologists, UI& UE designers, public and private sector organizations and government agencies to tackle how to allow EVERYONE to avail themselves of our justice system, or to find methods of achieving informal justice.

TECH FOR JUSTICE Hackathon+ Austin is working in partnership with the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Judicial Council, Texas Legal Services Center, Legal Services Corporation, and more. This hackathon is unique in its direct partnerships with legal and judicial institutions, and will focus on the creation of solutions that will directly apply to the improvement of state court systems, as well as private justice mechanisms.

Participants will spend the weekend of February 21st and 22nd tackling problems and producing proof of concepts and prototypes that will be curated and presented to worldwide audiences. After the Hackathon, participants will be incentivized to continue to develop their ideas through mentoring, data sharing, and public-private partnerships to bring ideas to fruition. […]

Want to attend? Reserve your spot now and let us know if you’re a coder, legal professional, or just want to participate in general.

Want to participate remotely? Sign-up to participate from anywhere in the world.

All registrants will be the first to receive the latest info on the Hackathon and have the opportunity to take part in events prior to the Hackathon.

Want to watch the livestream? Sign up to take a front row virtual seat via our live webcast of the event in Austin. Livestream registration does not allow for participation in the event. If you want to participate, we recommend you sign up for remote participate as soon as possible, as participant numbers will be capped. […]

HT @TechForJustice

Posted in Applications, Conference Announcements, Hackathons, Hacking, Technology developments, Technology tools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legal technology activities at Code Across, February 21-22, 2015, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Legal technology activities, led by Dazza Greenwood’s Computational Law Research and Development Group, are scheduled to be held as part of Code Across 2015, February 21-22, 2015, at MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Here is a description from the announcement:

During the weekend of February 21-22, 2015, please join Code for Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and municipal partners at the MIT Media Lab for a weekend of discussion, civic hacking, and data-driven exploration. The event will take place at the MIT Media Lab in the “Atrium” on the third floor.

The event will bring together government employees, technologists, and community members to focus on civic and social issues that face our local communities including public safety and justice, health and human services, economic development, and citizen engagement. We will also be celebrating open data in MA as part of International Open Data Day.

The Human Dynamics Lab will convene a special interest group both days exploring how Computational Law and Legal Informatics can provide applied solutions for CodeAcross civic and social issues. The Legal group will feature break out sessions to rapid prototype approaches and options. For more information on this special interest group, please contact Dazza Greenwood or contact us here.

Click here for the registration site.

HT @dazzagreenwood

Posted in Applications, Conference Announcements, Hackathons, Hacking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ruhl and Katz: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Legal Complexity

J. B. Ruhl and Daniel Martin Katz have posted Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Legal Complexity, forthcoming in Iowa Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

The American legal system is often accused of being “too complex.” For example, most Americans believe the Tax Code is too complex. But what does that mean, and how would one prove the Tax Code is too complex? The descriptive claim that an element of law is complex, and the normative claim that it is too complex, should be empirically testable hypotheses, yet in fact very little is known about how to measure legal complexity, much less to monitor and manage it.

Legal scholars have begun to employ the science of complex adaptive systems, also known as complexity science, to probe these kinds of descriptive and normative questions about the legal system. This body of work has focused primarily on developing theories of legal complexity and positing reasons for, and ways of, managing it. Legal scholars thus have skipped the hard part — developing quantitative metrics and methods for measuring and monitoring law’s complexity. But the theory of legal complexity will remain stuck in theory until it moves to the empirical phase of study, and thinking about ways of managing legal complexity is pointless if there is no yardstick for deciding how complex the law should be. In short, the theory of legal complexity cannot be put to work without more robust empirical tools for identifying and keeping track of complexity in legal systems.

This Article explores legal complexity at a depth not previously undertaken in legal scholarship. Part I orients the discussion by briefly reviewing the scholarship using complexity science to develop descriptive, prescriptive, and ethical theories of legal complexity. Parts II through IV then shift to the empirical front, identifying potentially useful metrics and methods for studying legal complexity. Part II draws from complexity science to develop methods that have or might be applied to measure different features of legal complexity, including metrics for agents, trees, networks, computation, feedback, and emergence. Part III proposes methods for monitoring legal complexity over time, in particular by conceptualizing what we call Legal Maps — a multi-layered, active representation of the legal system network at work. Part IV concludes with a preliminary examination of how the measurement and monitoring techniques could inform interventions designed to manage legal complexity through use of currently available machine learning and user interface design technologies.

Posted in Applications, Articles and papers, Methodology, Statistics, Technology developments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

deLevie: Tools for working with FCC legal data: fccrcd.link and ecfs.link

Alan deLevie of 18F has launched two tools for working with legal data from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

fccrcd.link

ecfs.link

HT @adelevie (here, here, and here)

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