mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Tuesday, 27 April 2004


Understanding Arnie

I think I’m starting to sympathise with Our Great Governor in California; the state senate has passed a bill banning the production or sale of foie gras.

That’s right, when they’re not telling us what’s good for us on the Internet, they’re telling us what to eat.


On a related note (maybe we can stop antics like this), I’m thinking more about using technology to open government. Ironically, you come across some of the least usable content when trying to find out about government bodies in the US.

Does anyone know whether FOIA or other transparency measures can be used to force records to be in a usable format? For example, I had to do some pretty manual cut-and-paste to find the bill above, when a simple link would have done wonders. Making our government maintain and expose its own data properly would be the biggest win, I think.

One Comment

Gabe Wachob said:

This has been an ongoing issue for years, brought to the forefront by the availability of cheap, instantaneous publishing over the Internet.

I cofounded LegalXML (now part of Oasis) a number of years ago while I was at Findlaw. Its purpose was to make the technical end of publishing legal (law-related) materials a “solved problem” so that there would be no excuse for publishing legal materials on line. It wasn’t successful in that goal.

In fact, there are even intellectual property issues with publishing some material online. I published a document in 1995 discussing the issue (its probably incredibly out of date now, but you get the idea): Legal Citation Debate: The Pathfinder ( )

Wednesday, April 28 2004 at 1:37 AM