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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, '10Sep 23, '10 Current Assets  Checking/Savings   Paypal55.5755.57   Citibank Money Market551.41551.41   Citibank1,001,293.421,293.42  Total Checking/Savings1,001,900.401,900.40  Other Current Assets   Grants Receivable1,000,000.000.00  Total Other Current Assets1,000,000.000.00 Total Current Assets2,001,900.401,900.40

"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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