Thursday, May 05, 2011

Authentication and versions...of legal material

From an interview with Margaret Maes on the Library of Congress's Digital Preservation website
    "Part of authentication is having the right versions – and all of the versions – of something that you might need if you are a researcher and you are really trying to nail down a point," Maes said. As a law develops from a proposal to a final version, there are often elements of meaning or intent that somebody can use when trying to prove a point about a piece of legislation. In the legal discipline, the more people pay attention to versions, the more important it becomes to preserve them.

Amen to that. That is why we will be ingesting complete temporal databases of complete legislative biennia as SIPs in the KEEP archive.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Congress and workflow

Interesting post on the role or otherwise of workflow engines using Congress as an example.

In my opinion, the reason that “workflow” is such a bad fit for Congress (or any other law making body) is that that process of making law takes place according to a set of constitutive rules, not a set of imperative rules (after John Searle).

I.e. Congress does its work in a competitive, game-like environment where “plays” in the game are deemed admissable or inadmissable based on a set of constitutive rules. Congress does not follow a set of imperative rules of the form (do this; then do this; if this happens, then do this…). Workflow engines can work fine in the latter environment but are very problematic in the former. Especially when you consider that the constitutive rules under which Congress operates can themselves be modified by Congress. In this sense the “game” underlying congress is very similar to (Nomic).

The LWB system has to deal with these realties of legislative workflows. The white paper covers some of this and is available : here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

TV sets going the way of the dodo?

So the TVs are disappearing? Well, it all depends on how you define "TV". If by "TV" you mean a box that limits you to X "stations" and connected into some Eighties-class shielded copper cable thing, then yes, absolutely.

If you mean internet terminal with support for legacy "TV" stations and cabling, then no, they are not going away....Every time I walk into BestBuy a bunch of Internet-enabled flatscreen TVs are walking out.

The concept of a Television set is morphing at the moment, just as the concept of a Telephone morphed with the introduction of cellular and now VoIP.