Law.Gov Update

I must admit things were a bit tight earlier this week at Public.Resource.Org when I called the payroll
company and put the full-time staff (i.e., me) on a temporary involuntary furlough. We had just enough
to pay contractors and rent, but that was pretty much it.

Some of you may have noted
today’s Google 10^100 announcement which has resulted in a rather remarkable transformation in our
balance sheet (not to mention some serious rocket fuel for Law.Gov!):

Public.Resource.Org, Inc.
Balance Sheet Standard
As of September 24, 2010
Sep 24, ’10 Sep 23, ’10
Current Assets
 Checking/Savings
  Paypal 55.57 55.57
  Citibank Money Market 551.41 551.41
  Citibank 1,001,293.42 1,293.42
 Total Checking/Savings 1,001,900.40 1,900.40
 Other Current Assets
  Grants Receivable 1,000,000.00 0.00
 Total Other Current Assets 1,000,000.00 0.00
Total Current Assets 2,001,900.40 1,900.40

“What a Diff’rence a Day Makes!”

This grant is going to help Public.Resource.Org continue our work on Law.Gov and Video.Gov.
For Law.Gov, this is going to mean a shift into real production, building on the very solid
consensus that was reached earlier this year on the Core Law.Gov Principles.
There are going to be a series of announcements over the remainder of this year, but there are
three things we can share with you today:

  1. The first step in creating the Law.Gov Report is cleaning up and cataloging all the work
    from our 15 Law.Gov workshops that took place from January to June of this year.
    Point.B Studio
    and Foolish Tree Films have been hard at working creating a 15-DVD set of workshop proceedings
    with approximately 70 pieces of video. The video will all get released as a final mix on the net
    as well as on DVDs printed at Lulu, and this core will form the basis for the next steps of the
    report. Stay tuned for more details.
  2. The next step on the National Inventory of Legal Materials is going to be a bug tracker where people
    can enter their survey results, in particular creating trouble tickets for jurisdictions that violate
    the Law.Gov Core Principles. I’m pleased to report that Karl Fogel
    of O’Reilly Media has been
    hard at work on some software for this, based on the excellent MediaBugs base created by
    Scott Rosenberg and crew, which in turn builds on the PeoplePods code base created by Internet rock
    star Ben Brown. This software, natch, will be open source so you can use it to create other
    kinds of bug trackers besides media and legal bugs.
  3. If Law.Gov is going to work, we need lots more data. I’m pleased to report that we are close to a final
    agreement with UC Hastings and the Internet Archive to scan 3 million pages of 9th Circuit briefs,
    and we’ve sent California’s Title 24
    out to be double-keyed, turning it from PDF scans into valid
    markedup hypertext. We’re also launching a strong “think local” effort with a goal of making all
    the local codes here in Sonoma and neighboring North Bay counties available for citizens and local
    governments to work with (more on that effort at the upcoming Ignite Sebastopol).

The grant is also going to help fund our Video.Gov efforts, and this morning I placed an order
with C-SPAN for 500 DVDs of Congressional Hearings as part of our effort to get Congress to get it together and publish more video from hearings. We’re close to a digitization agreement with the National
Agricultural Library, we intend to keep working with our band of IASL volunteers and will of course do everything we can to help our colleague Andrew
McLaughlin in his personal quest
to see Video.Gov enter the .Gov domain.

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  • http://www.red-bean.com/kfogel Karl Fogel

    What a difference a day makes, indeed! Congratulations, Carl.

  • Ed Manlove

    Carl,

    You write “I placed an order with C-SPAN for 500 DVDs of Congressional Hearings as part of our effort to get Congress to get it together and publish more video from hearings.” Could you write a little more about your efforts here? Are you saying there have been hearings which were recorded but the video has yet to be released by Congress?

  • http://public.resource.org Carl Malamud

    Ed -

    Yes.

    Several thousand hearings have been recorded by House Broadcast Studio, are sitting in their archives.

    C-SPAN and other news organizations cover 1-2 hearings per day max, but there are a dozen hearing rooms that record video, many of them active every day, many of them don’t provide the archive on-line. The few that have an on-line archive don’t have it as full-res video, pipe it through some set of proprietary delivery mechanisms.

    Carl

  • http://silona.org Silona

    Wow! this is amazingly awesome Carl – big huge congratulations!

    gives me hope!

  • http://joejarvis.org/ Joseph M. Jarvis

    Thanks so much for the update. Curious bystanders are hungry for details. :)

  • John Curran

    Carl – Congrats! :-) /John

  • Joe Draughn

    Carl, thank you for your efforts, and contratulations for your success. I wish had the finances to contribute more to this cause, but my little “Widow’s Mite” is given with gratitude. I wish and will encourage everyone I know to help out. This service is essential

  • http://www.twitter.com/christinaathp Christina Morrison

    Congratulations Carl, it is great to see the benefits that these grants have to keep great programs like yours alive. Law.gov is a great resource to help keep our government open and transparent, and I’m looking forward to seeing the information that comes out of the site.