Tuesday, 30 September 2008

E-Lawbooks meeting

The Seattle PI has a report about the meeting held last Saturday at Seattle University law school about the future of e-lawbook publishing. Among the 40 attendees were Ed Rubin, dean of Vanderbilt University Law School; John Mayer, director of CALI; Peggy Davis from New York University School of Law; John Palfrey from Harvard Law School; Seattle University law professor David Skover (who helped organize the meeting) and representatives from West Academic Publishing, Adobe, Sony and Microsoft. The meeting went all day, and discussion was wide-ranging.

EPA libraries re-open today after 2 years

The EPA libraries are scheduled to re-open today as noted in the Federal Register. The group PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, issued their own press release about the library reopenings. According to them, most of the re-opened new libraries will be housed in less space and the one in Chicago (formerly the largest regional library) will re-open without “permanent furniture and shelving.” PEER notes that during the past two years, EPA further diminished its own informational infrastructure by –
- Breaking up collections and disbursing them in a fashion that they may never be reassembled. - Most of the re-opened libraries will only provide “core” reference materials;
- Banning any technical holdings (called “mini-libraries”) for scientists and specialists that are not subject to centralized control; and
- Placing all library acquisition and management decisions under a political appointee.
In response to public and congressional criticism, the EPA has undertaken a "National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information" that invites participation from anyone interested in access to environmental information. The Dialogue will be used to develop a new EPA Library Strategic Plan in December 2008.

Collegiate forensics

There's an interesting article about the current state of college debating in the Chronicle this morning. It follows a famous incident last March in which William Shanahan, a debate coach at Fort Hays University, and Ms. Shanara Rose Reid-Brinkley, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Pittsburgh and debate judge, got into a shouting match in which Mr. Shanahan briefly "mooned" Ms. Redi-Brinkley. Ms. Reid-Brinkley will not participate in debate tournaments this year, and Pitt has decided to withdraw its debate teams altogether from this year's tournaments.
The article includes a video that shows college debate teams in action. (warning: the brief mooning incident is included.)

UN Treaties website revamped

The United Nations Treaties Collection website has been overhauled and has a more usable interface. The new interface lets you search for treaties by popular name, participant and title, and offers an advanced search feature. It also provides links to photographs of treaty signings.

PACER pilot suspended?

Apparently the 2-year PACER pilot program begun in 2007 has been suspended. A notice went out that "GPO and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts undertook a pilot to provide free public access to Federal court records at 17 Federal depository libraries through (PACER) ....The pilot has been suspended, pending an evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, the judiciary and the GPO will determine what steps need to be taken in order to move forward.The pilot is part of GPO's efforts to increase public access to government information as well as the judiciary's continuing effort to expand public access to court records."

Monday, 29 September 2008

Vote stats

The House website is having problems, but the Washington Post has a breakdown of the stats on the vote.

Bailout plan agreed upon BUT...

Defeated in the House, 228-205. 2:19 pm Monday.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Congressional leaders and the White House have agreed on a bailout bill after negotiating all weekend over the measure. The "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" is available in draft form from the Wall Street Journal ; the Chicago Sun-Times has a good summary of the draft bill (from last night). But...see above.

Fact-checking for the election

New on LLRX, there's an article by Peggy Garvin about political fact-checking sites available online. She describes, analyzes and compares a number of these sites. Thanks, Peggy!

Westlaw whitepapers: skills law firms want from summer associates

In their Librarian Resource Center, West has several whitepapers about the research skills that law firms expect law students to acquire in law school in order to be successful summer associates and new associates. The whitepapers are the result of surveys that West conducted with large and small law firms.
Among the findings are the skills showing the largest gap between expected and actual proficiency include:
– Effective and efficient use of printed legal research materials
– Effective and efficient use of online legal research materials
– Identifying the legal issue in a research problem
– General workplace skills, including time management, punctuality, meeting deadlines, professional attire
– Clear, concise use of research findings in writing memoranda
– Effective and efficient use of primary authority, including statutes and cases
– Preparation of briefs and motions using legal research effectively and complying with requirements of the court
– Tracking the history of a change in a statute

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Thomson-Reuters sues over Zotero

According to the Courthouse News Service, Thomson-Reuters is suing George Mason University over Zotero, the free Mozilla plug-in (developed at GMU) that lets you manage your research papers and particularly citations. They are demanding $10 million and an injunction to stop George Mason University from distributing Zotero because it allows users to convert Reuters' EndNote Software. The suit claims that GMU reverse engineered Reuters' EndNote software to create Zotero
Zotero is also one of the few apps you can use to format legal citations in Bluebook style.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

"Codes should be free" show

Public Resource dot Org has a slideshow on Flickr that explains why codes should be freely available to everyone. It stars cute little Lego people.

CRS summaries on subprime crisis

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library has added two Congressional Research Service (CRS) research summaries to its excellent collection of digitized CRS documents. The Cost of Government Financial Interventions, Past and Present addresses questions about the recent financial interventions by the government in the business of private corporations including AIG, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, and BearStearns. The report discusses sources of funding and the costs to taxpayers and includes a table summarizing "Current and Historical Financial Interventions by the Federal Government".
The Proposal to Allow Treasury to Buy Mortgage-Related Assets to Address Financial Instability discusses a draft of Treasury Secretary Paulsen's proposal (dated 9/21/08) for legislative authorization to allow direct intervention in the economy, and analyzes frequently asked questions.
These CRS documents are excellent summaries with clearly presented information about the subprime mortgage debacle and the turmoil in U.S. financial markets.

Friday, 26 September 2008

E-Government reauthorization bill hits snag

Washington Technology reports that the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007 (S-2321), which would extend eGovernment Act of 2002, create new requirements for accessibility of government information and mandate the development of best practices to enhance privacy impact assessments, has been held up. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont added a controversial last-minute amendment that placed new requirements for protecting personal individual information and restrictions on data brokers. Since the Senate is due to adjourn, the bill will likely die, putting a number of government information technology initiatives on hold or in limbo (see the Congressional Research Service summary of the bill).

EPA libraries reopening

From the Federal Register: "The EPA is enhancing access to library services for the public and Agency staff. EPA will open previously closed libraries in its National Library Network, with walk-in access for the public and EPA staff." The libraries are reopening in Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and Washington D.C. According to PEER - Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - the union representing federal workers in the libraries had to work hard to get the EPA to agree to provide adequate space, trained librarians and equipment to handle staff requirements and to accommodate usage by the general public.

U.S. - Muslim Engagement Project Report

The U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, in affiliation with the Search for Common Ground (SFCG), recently released its report entitled "Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations with theMuslim World" (170 page pdf). The report "represents the consensus of an exceptionally diverse, senior, bipartisan and inter-faith group of 34 American leaders who have worked together" to study U.S. relations with Muslims around the world, the obstacles to improving relations, how those obstacles could be overcome, and how the Project could best contribute to progress. The report offers fundamental principles and core recommendations for improving U.S. relations with Muslim countries and communities and concludes that there is a convergence of values and interests among the vast majority of Muslims and Americans that provides a starting point for relationships based on mutual confidence and respect.

Texting while driving illegal in CA

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that it is now illegal to text while driving in California. Phewf!

Humanitarian Aid for the Mind

Inside Higher Education reports that over 5700 books will be shipped from TriLiteral, the warehouse that houses inventory for the Harvard University Press, the MIT Press, and the Yale University Press this week, to help replenish the Iraqi National Library. The donations are being organized and shipped by the Sabre Foundation of Cambridge, whose Book Donation Program has a long history of helping get educational materials to countries in need.

"Smile to Quick Bird"

Is this the latest fad in Russia? Apparently an entire town participated in posing for a Google Earth photo - they calculated when Quick Bird, the satellite that takes the photos, would be over their town, and they handed out yellow ponchos to everyone at a rock concert and formed a gigantic smiley face that they hope will show up on the next update of Google Earth.

eTextbooks for students

Barco 2.0 is back on its feet though still reeling from an unfortunate bout of upper respiratory infection aka a bad cold.
The Chronicle's Wired Campus blog reports that as soon as next month college students will be able to buy electronic textbooks and other media at college bookstores. The National Association of College Stores has announced that it has formed a company, NACS Media Solutions, to negotiate with publishers to support the on-demand service. Ultimately content will include digitized textbooks, trade books, coursepacks, and magazines; digital learning objects (course materials created specifically for computer-based usage); open-source and self-published content; audio books; music, movies, TV programs, and video and computer games; and campus-specific content such as class notes and study guides. Available platforms will eventually encompass the web, mobile devices, print-on-demand, e-readers, course-management systems, point-of-sale systems, and kiosks. The pilot program, which will offer movies-on-demand that can be burned to DVDs, will begin in seven college bookstores across the country next month.

Friday, 19 September 2008

e-Casebooks meeting

The National Law Journal reports (subscription required) that law professors and publishing executives will meet in Seattle Sept. 27 to discuss how legal casebooks could be made available electronically on a widespread basis, possibly on handheld devices such as Amazon's Kindle and the Sony Reader. Ecasebooks would lighten students' backpacks and allow professors to customize course materials. Publishers have concerns about copyrights and the ability to protect electronic casebooks from piracy; and devices such as Kindle and Sony Reader, while useful for leisure reading, do not allow law students to highlight or write notes. The meeting is organized by Edward L. Rubin, dean of Vanderbilt University Law School; Ronald K.L. Collins, scholar in the Washington office of the First Amendment Center; and Dean Kellye Testy and Professor David Skover of Seattle University School of Law, where the event is taking place.

Online projects from the Dirksen Center

The Dirksen Center has created a new webpage that links to all of their digital projects.
The Civil Rights Documentation Project "As valuable as the emphasis on the civil rights movement has been, an equally vital chapter has been neglected -- the story of the legislative process itself."
Editorial Cartoon Collection
Facing the Post-War World: Everett M. Dirksen Abroad, 1945 Dirksen traveled on behalf of the House Committee on Appropriations to inspect American embassies, reconstruction agencies, intelligence services, and the armed forces.
The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill contains the minutes and press conferences (both print and audio) of the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership, 1961-69.
Understanding Congressional Decisions Through Vectors How do Members of Congress make decisions about the votes they cast? In this interactive exercise a professor of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy uses vectors to illustrate how competing influences, such as personal preference or constituency interests, affect decisions.
14 Units to Learn How a Bill Becomes a Law uses text, graphics and video to enliven understanding of the legislative process and to allow them to explore in-depth its various facets.

Free access to Govt. information

Carl Malamud, founder and president of Public.Resource.org, has just taken another dramatic step toward free public access to governmental data. He purchased the Code of Federal Regulations from GPO (with support from Sunlight and several other organizations), and also suggested a partnership model for bulk data dissemination of ALL of GPO's bulk data resources. Carl explains in detail on public resource's GPO page here and in the letter he sent to Robert C. Tapella, Public Printer of the United States.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

U. Michigan Library adds Espresso Book Machine

The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus Blog has a post about a new addition to the U. Michigan Library - a machine that acts as an "ATM for books". The library says it's the first university library to install the machine. Just about any digitized, out-of-copyright book from Michigan’s collection can be printed and bound on the spot. Printing takes five to seven minutes, and the cost is about $10 per book. Users will also be able to print books from online sources such as the Open Content Alliance.

Google Newspapers

Google has announced that it intends to put all the newspapers in the whole wide world that have been published in the past 200 years online and searchable. You go, Google! As an example, they show an original article from a 1969 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the first man on the moon. To explore this "historical treasure trove" search the Google News Archive or use the "timeline" feature after searching Google News.
But note that "this effort is just the beginning".

Hat tip, Katie Nye.

No Cookies in the Library

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Google indexing audio

Google announced Wednesday that it has launched audio indexing in Google Labs. Dubbed GAudi, the new service is designed to work with YouTube, and will catalog all the words uttered during an audio or video clip. Once collected, the transcript will be added to a searchable database that can be accessed in much the same way you search for text-based websites.

Legal Citation Firefox Addon

Jureeka is a Firefox add-on that looks for legalcitations in ordinary webpages and turns them into hyperlinks that lead to a free version of the cited source (mostly U.S. law). Jureeka weaves together dispersed sources, creating the impression of a rudimentary (but free) Lexis-like legal research experience on the open web. It also has a toolbar that lets you search for materials by citation, and a button that looks for HTML versions of PDF pages (so as to hyperlink the cites).

hat tip: Barb Ginzburg

Constitution Day & Citizenship Day today

The Law Library of Congress has gathered the following resources for Constitution Day:

Global Legal Monitor from the LLOC

The Law Library of Congress has announced that The Global Legal Monitor is now a continuously updated website rather than a monthly pdf publication. It can be searched or browsed by Topic and Jurisdiction.

And another blog...

The Dirksen Congressional Center (a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization in Pekin, Illinois, that seeks to improve civic engagement by promoting a better understanding of Congress and its leaders) has announced that they are entering the blogosphere world with TheCongressBlog . The blog presents information about the House and the Senate, both current news and historical tidbits. The bloggers will compile information from major newspapers, political blogs, and the official sites of the U.S. House and Senate.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Westlaw Stress Toy Part 2: the Return of BugOut Bob

Website has easy links to many languages

MyLanguage is an Australian library website providing access to search engines, web directories and news in over 60 languages, from Africaans to Vietnamese. The goal is to improve access to multilingual online information. The site includes a "training section" where libraries can share translated training materials.

The Peer-to-Patent Project

MIT's Technology Review has an article today about the Peer-to-Patent Project, a project dubbed "Community Review of Patents". This experimental program was launched in June 2007 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and with the support of the technology industry and is intended to give the public more of a voice in the patent system. The concept is this: Publish patent applications online and let anyone with relevant expertise — academics, colleagues, potential rivals — offer input to be passed along to the Patent Office. By using the power of the internet to tap the wisdom of the masses, Peer-to-Patent aims to discover hard-to-find "prior art" (evidence that an invention already exists or is obvious and therefore doesn't deserve a patent) that Patent Office examiners might not find and to produce better patents by reducing ones granted on applications that aren't "novel". The hope is that this will drive innovation by improving the patent process and reducing the patent infringement lawsuits clogging the courts.

Scholarly productivity at law schools

Brian Leiter blogs that Roger Williams Law School has updated and published the results of a study of faculty productivity of schools outside the US News top 50 judged by publishing in top law journals. Pitt Law is fifth. When compared to top law schools, Harvard was only slightly more productive than San Diego, while USD, Cardozo, Florida State, Richmond, and Pittsburgh all had higher per capita productivity than BU.
For those on the law teaching market, this study is not a bad tool for gauging which more regional law schools have serious scholarly cultures.

Monday, 15 September 2008

DNA evidence & criminal law

LLRX has a new article with links and descriptions of web-based materials about developments in DNA technology and criminal law. Included in the article:

  • Information on DNA access and testing laws and related post-conviction legislation nationwide.

  • Standards and guidelines for collection and retention of genetic material in criminal cases as well as testing protocols.

  • Reports with policy recommendations from various perspectives based on research into exonerations and DNA testing.

  • Law review articles addressing DNA access and testing laws

  • Other articles and annotations provide background on DNA access and testing legislation, requirements for filing post-conviction motions, and case law developments.

UN group looks at curbing net anonymity

Reports from CNet and PC World that the UN's International Telecommunication Union is quietly drafting technical standards, proposed by the Chinese government, to define methods of tracing the original source of Internet communications and potentially curbing the ability of users to remain anonymous. The agency is hosting a telecommunications standards meeting in Geneva next week, and one item for discussion is how to find ways to limit virus attacks and spam by making it harder to "spoof" the origin of electronic communications - but civil rights advocates worry it could put an end to anonymity on the Internet. Steven Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia University blogs about his concern that a political agenda will shape the internet.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Microsoft & GenY

There's a good article in TechCrunch today that talks about Microsoft's problems, as seen in their annual report. The article says that GenY users are just bypassing all the overblown MS products in favor of powerful, easy, user-friendly apps. "in Excel 2008, some users might need pivot tables, but vast majority of those that use spreadsheets will never ever need to use them, nor will they ever write a macro, or script in Visual Basic." Hear hear. And btw it's not just GenY that never needs all that stuff.

Friday, 12 September 2008

WMD Report Card

Greta Marlatt at the Homeland Security Digital Library reports that the WMD Report Card(s) that has been in the news lately is now available. The report - "WMD Report Care: Evaluating U.S. Policies toPrevent Nuclear, Chemical & Biological Terrorism Since 2005" was done by the Partnership for a Secure America, a bipartisan group. She provided links to the main page , the full report card (pdf); the nuclear report (pdf) "Nuclear Terrorism: US Policies to Reduce theThreat of Nuclear Terror"; The biological report (pdf) "Biological Terrorism: US Policies to ReduceGlobal Biothreats" ; and the chemical report (pdf)"Chemical Terrorism: US Policies to Reduce theChemical Terror Threat".

Copyright fight over NIH & PubMed

The Chronicle reports on the Sturm und Drang going on in the Congressional hearing over HR 6845, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act: to amend title 17, United States Code, with respect to works connected to certain funding agreements ( TEXT , pdf.) The bill, introduced by John Conyers of Michigan, would curtail the National Institutes of Health's public-access policy that requires all NIH-funded researchers to submit electronic copies of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed, a free online archive of biomedical and life-sciences journal articles, and that the material be made publicly available within 12 months of publication. The hearing is being held by the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.

Advances in electronic book technology: the Plastic Logic Reader

I want one!

Friday fun - 2d Microsoft ad with "Jerry and Bill"

Thursday, 11 September 2008

5 signs of email addiction....

Computer World has an article about the problem of "email addiction". The 5 signs that you - or someone you know - might have a problem:
  • You check your e-mail more than once an hour, even when you aren't on the clock.
  • You look at every message that comes in, as it comes in, either at or away from the office.
  • You feel the need to respond to messages instantly or within minutes of when they arrive.
  • You interrupt real, in-person activities on a regular basis to deal with e-mail.
  • E-mail has, in some way, interfered with your regular life -- in the form of sleep loss, relationship troubles, stress or any other noticeable effect.
Read the article to see how you can "curb your electronic enslavement".

Free court information and records

Great article in the ResourceShelf this morning, pointing to a number of free online resources where you can find various state court records and information about the court system in state jurisdictions.
The "Resource of the Week" is Court Records Free Reference and Directory offering links to states' courts. Click on the state you are interested in and you will be taken to an excellent web guide to that state’s court system. They also blog about state courts.
A more general public records site is a Free Public Records Directory, with information about many types of public records. All links indicate whether online public records searches are available for free, as paid services, or not available online. If it isn't online, they provide contact information for the appropriate agency. It also has a blog & discussion forum organized by state.
And A Journalist’s Guide to the Federal Courts has great information geared towards finding the best information sources. There are descriptions of court procedure and "key players", and a glossary of terms.

Penn, Wharton offer JD/MBA program

The University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Wharton School have announced the launch of a three-year joint J.D./M.B.A. degree. The new program differs from other programs in that it calls for students to spend their first year at the law school and the following summer in four so-called "Law and Wharton" courses. Students in their second and third years will take a combination of Law and Wharton courses and a "capstone course" that ties the two disciplines together. During the summer between the second and third year, students can get work experience in law, business, finance or the public sector. The University of Pennsylvania is touting the program as the country's first fully integrated three-year program offered by elite law and business schools.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Harnessing the power of internet users to digitize books

Luis von Ahn, the CMU professor who developed CAPTCHA (the authenticating method that has you type the letters that you see) has also developed reCAPTCHA, a new form of CAPTCHA that also helps digitize books, according to a press release from CMU. In reCAPTCHA, the words displayed to the user come directly from old books that are being digitized; they are words that OCR could not identify and are sent to people throughout the Web to be identified. Von Ahn said reCAPTCHAs are being used to digitize books for the Internet Archive and to digitize newspapers for The New York Times. Digitization allows older works to be indexed, searched, reformatted and stored in the same way as today's online texts.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Wecht decision online

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has handed down its opinion in the Wecht case. The Court removed U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab from the case and ordered that a different judge be assigned to hear any potential retrial. Wecht's lawyers had accused Judge Schwab of being biased in favor of the prosecution. However, the court refused Wecht's request to dismiss the charges.

Hat tip: Joel Fishman

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Online Terms-of-Service agreements

Well, there's at least one person who scrolls & reads the fine print before clicking that "I agree" button. Valleywag has blogged about the "most laughable" terms of service agreements online. Google's gmail agreement, for example, has this language: "Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content from any Service." Watchout!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Copyright and the California Code

Carl Malamud, champion of open-access government, is taking on the state of California, reports the San Jose Press Democrat. California claims copyright to California's laws - meaning the state controls access and price. Malamud has begun publishing copies of federal, state and county codes online in direct violation of claimed copyright. On Labor Day, he posted the entire 38-volume California Code of Regulations, which includes all of the state's regulations from health care and insurance to motor vehicles and investment, on his Public Resource website. He says "A system of selling codes for hundreds of dollars and then making public access inconvenient by requiring you to drive long distances to an official depository library hurts us all. "

CRS reports on the Russia-Georgia conflict

The Thurgood Marshall Law Library (Univ. of MD) has added 2 recent publications (dated 8/13/08) on events in Russia and Georgia to their Congressional Research Service Reports project . The reports provide important background on the developing Russia-Georgia conflict. The reports are titled Russia-Georgia Conflict in South Ossetia: Context and Implications for U.S. Interests and Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S.
The Congressional Research Service is a department of the Library of Congress that provides members of Congress with authoritative research and analysis on policy issues. CRS produces or updates more than 3,000 studies and other publications each year, none of which are distributed to the public.

New study of affirmative action in law schools

Inside Higher Education has a story today about a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research that analyzes statistics about black law students. Using simulations of law school admissions without affirmative action, the researchers find that affimative action is pivotal in achieving racial diversity in law schools.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Encouraging the use of minority- and women-owned law firms

E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. , Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have published for the first time a list of minority- and women-owned law firms that the companies have used in the past. They have sent the list to major corporations to encourage corporations to use these firms. They have also launched a Web site that lists the firms by state with contact information. Judges, juries and public officials are becoming more diverse, so companies benefit from using firms that offer a diverse set of lawyers who can identify with these decision-makers, said Tom Sager, DuPont's general counsel. DuPont also sent the directories to its 50 primary law firms, encouraging them to consider working with the minority- and women-owned firms and to share the information with colleagues.

Best Government Websites

And speaking of government websites, the online publication Government Computer News recently had an article about the "Top 10 Government Websites".
Here's their list:
Medline Plus:the National Library of Medicine’s site offers an astounding array of medical information on a user-friendly site - and gets over 40 million visitors a month!
CDC.gov: the Centers for Disease Control website focuses on visitor needs. It has a help page, complete with audio assistance, for navigating the site’s many resources, such as health information on everything from workplace conditions to the aging process. Users can adjust the text size or choose to read the pages in one of 10 languages.
DC CapStat: the city of Washington D.C. is undertaking a cross-agency accountability program, called CapStat, to tackle broad multiagency goals such as lowering crime and cleaning up the streets, with an award-nominated website for the public to follow.
SSA's Medicare Prescription Help: Through a series of questions, the site can determine if a senior citizen is eligible for discounts on medications and, if so, provides an online application the person can submit to SSA.
USA.gov: USA.gov is a pre-eminent search service for the federal government. It combines the best of a good spider engine — one that catches all the nooks and crannies of government Web sites — with Yahoo-style, human-built directories that help people find what they need. There’s even a complete version of the site in Spanish.
Massachusetts website: MA makes all state agencies easily accessible on the website, and services such as the ability to search state laws or the state budget also are offered on the home page by name rather than the state agency. It tries to foster a sense of community among state residents, offering pages that address the issues of the day.
Business.gov from the Small Business Agency: Just enter your ZIP code and the type of business you’d want to start, and it returns a page with pointers to the appropriate tax permits, entity filings, insurance requirements and even requirements for hiring workers.
US Geologic Survey: Water Science for Schools: this educational site on water offers almost everything anyone would ever want to know about water. And much of the material available on the site is presented in as many as 60 languages.
Cancer.gov from the National Cancer Institute includes descriptions of what cancer is, how to prevent it, how to treat it, and how to screen for it — all of it in simple, easy-to-understand language.
The Merit Systems Protection Board’s E-Appeal: site for government employees.

2008 End-of-Term Website Crawl to Preserve Gov't. Info.

The Library of Congress, the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas Libraries, the Internet Archive and the U.S. Government Printing Office are joining together for a collaborative project to preserve public U.S. government web sites at the end of the current presidential administration ending Jan. 19, 2009. The project will document federal agencies' presence on the internet during the transition of government and to enhance the existing collections of the five partner institutions.
The project has 2 parts:
1. The Internet Archive will do a "comprehensive crawl" of the .gov domain (all of the URLs identified for this project) beginning in late August 2008, and again in early 2009, after the inauguration.
2. Prioritized Crawls: Selected URLs will be crawled at a greater frequency and depth than the comprehensive crawl, in order to capture websites that are at risk of rapid change during this time, or of disappearing altogether.
The project team is now calling upon government information specialists -- including librarians and law researchers -- to assist in the selection and prioritization of web sites to be included in the prioritized crawl, as well as identifying the frequency and depth of the act of collecting. Those who sign up to participate will be provided a link to a web-based tool to facilitate the collaborative work of this project. Participants will be asked to review URLs to determine if they are in scope or out of scope for the project, and may also add in-scope URLs not appearing in the comprehensive crawl URL list.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Hurricane Gustav: online info

If you would like to keep informed about Hurricane Gustav, the National Hurricane Center has begun an experimental podcasting service, with podcasts issued every few hours during a hurricane landfall along the U.S. Coast or U.S. Territorial Islands. When a current podcast is available, a link to the RSS/Podcast feed and a link to the corresponding directory with the latest audio (mp3) file will be displayed. You can right-click and choose "save" to download the file; or Once the podcasts are older than 4 hours, they are no longer available on the page.
There is also a Gustav information network set up on Ning, with bloggers posting information about major news events and alerts.