Unhackathon Wrapup

Well, we had our “unhackathon” and it was, overall, a great success. We learned a lot, introduced a lot of people to the notion of XML markup and Akoma Ntoso, and made a number of important contacts all around. I hope that all the participants got something out of the experience. In San Francisco we were competing with a lovely Saturday afternoon and a street fair outside – which people chose to give up in order to attend our event.

At UC Hastings we had a special visit from State Senator Leland Yee of the 8th District which was most gratifying. He has been a strong proponent for government transparency and his surprise visit was awesome.

This was the first outing of the new AKN/Editor so I was quite nervous going in. Deciding to write an advanced editor, using brand new technologies, on all four browsers, and then planning an unmovable date just 10 weeks into the project is a little crazy now that I think about it. But the editor held up well for the most part. There were a number of glitches, but we were able to work around or fix most of them. The Akoma Ntoso model seemed to work overall, although there was a lot of the normal confusion over the hierarchical containment structure of XML. I did wish we could have made more progress with more jurisdictions and had been able to explore more of the redlining issues. But that was perhaps a bit too ambitious. I still want to find a venue to completely vet redlining as I believe that this is going to be the real challenge for Akoma Ntoso and I want to resolve them sooner rather than later.

On the entrepreneurial front, we did discover a potential market serving lonely males in the Middle East on Google Hangouts. We’ll leave that opportunity for someone else to exploit.

For me, trying to manage a room full of people, take care of editor issues, and keep in contact with the remotes sites and participants around the world was very overwhelming. If I missed your call or your question, please accept my apologies. My brain was simply overloading.

Going forward we are now starting to make plans for where to go from here. The LegalHacks.org website will remain intact and will even continue to develop. I’m going to refine the editor based on feedback and continue further development in the weeks and months to come. We hope that the site will continue to develop as a venue for legal informatics hacking. Also, preliminary work is now underway for a follow-on unhackathon in another part of the world. Look for an announcement soon!

Thank you to all the organizers – Charles Belle at UC Hastings, Pieter Gunst at Stanford Codex, Karen Sahuka in Denver (BillTrack 50). Thank you to Ari Hershowitz at Tabulaw for pulling it all together, Jim Harper from the Cato Institute for his opening words, Brad Chang of Xcential for being me at Stanford, Robert Richards for being our tireless word spreader, and a special thank you to Monica Palmirani and Fabio Vitali at the University of Bologna for participating from afar and for providing Monica’s videos.

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