Free Federal Regulations Trackers

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Check out these  free regulations trackers at RegInfo.gov and Regulations.gov. RegInfo.gov provides reliable, transparent information about regulations under development to enable the public to participate effectively in the regulatory process. It is produced by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and the General Services Administration (GSA), Regulatory Information Service Center (RISC). What is cool is that it tracks administrative steps and processes that might be outside the Federal Register publication process. See what is coming down the pipeline in the Federal administrative process, complete with easy-to-read charts, scrolling news feed, regulatory review highlights, and the Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan data.

Regulations.gov offers an online source for regulations from over 300 federal agencies. On the site you can:

  • Search for a regulation such as a proposed rule, final rule or Federal Register (FR) notice
  • Submit a comment on a regulation or on another comment
  • Submit an application, petition or adjudication document
  • Sign up for e-mail alerts about a specific regulation
  • Quickly access regulations that are popular, newly posted or closing soon-directly from the homepage
  • Subscribe to RSS feeds by agency of newly posted FR notices

Regulations.gov is designed with the goal of increasing access to and participation in regulations as they develop and related documents as well as promoting more efficient and effective rulemaking via public involvement. Comment on proposed rules and review the comments of others. All hail, public discourse!

Hat tip to Peggy Garvin at LLRX.

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Westlaw Sings The Blues: Project Cobalt

Never able to let a mystery lie dormant, I spent some time this weekend digging into the dirt to find out about this West-branded next evolution in legal research. It’s code-named Cobalt and I managed to scare up a Thomson Reuters PowerPoint which hints at the features. It is fairly clear that Cobalt will offer a more Web 2.0 experience. Of course, its being billed as the best search engine for law and easy to use. It will promises “high velocity” results and  research workflow optimization. What interests me is a vague reference to “community insights.” Is West going to offer its own social aspects within the research framework?

Although it is not certain, there is a suggestion that the preferred search format will be natural language. Some are opining that this means no more Boolean. I will wait and see on that point before I assume the worst. I am hoping West is smarter than Bing in that regard. There is also a suggestion in the press that it will learn from the community – perhaps this learning hints at a semantic aspect (woohoooo!).

There isn’t a lot more to say at this point, but I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for more info. My inner cynic is moving aside a little to make room for a new hope that West will bring its service up to par.

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Great Government Goods

Lots of new tools and updated features on old tools coming on line for federal information tracking. Peggy Garvin at LLRX lists the goods in her article here. Many of the changes involve Twitter for updating and tracking the progress of legislation, as well as RSS feeds for ongoing news. I won’t provide the entire list of tools, as it is lengthy, but I do urge anyone interested in federal legislative and conressional research to hit the jump above and check out all the new ways our government is looking to the Web to assist in providing open access to public information. 

One interesting point: if you are looking to tweet about specific legislation yourself, the article suggests using hashtags, such as #usbill or a hashtag with the bill number, such as #hr3200. This will assist the government sites in collecting relevant information, which can then be compiled and broadly shared.

One-Stop Legal Tech Shopping

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Ken Strutin at LLRX has collected a list of resources for librarians to assist them in assisting others with employing new technologies in the practice of law. Insert “lawyers” for “librarians” and the list becomes even more worthwhile. There are some old favorites on this list, as well as a few new resources. He breaks the list of resources into categories, such as current awareness (of tech equipment and services), Web Tech 2.0, website monitoring, citation tools, and communication management.

It is by no means exhaustive, but certainly adds a few tips so it is worth a check.

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You Want Fresh? Get Government-Fresh!

Real-time, social or what have you, even the Federal Government is getting in on the Web 2.0 action! Want your government social media aggregated? Check out govfresh.com – government 2.0. The site collects official government web content streamed from the various social media outlets, including Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the White House blog. The information is not limited to the White House: there are sources from various federal agencies, the military, political parties and even federal contractors and labs. The information is rounded out with relevant news stories.

The site is clean, with minimal distraction. There are the obligatory sharing icons and buttons for more social media goodness. What a great idea from our tech-forward governing body!

Hat tip to Research Buzz.

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Cheers To the Boston College Law Library …

High Five!
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… for the kind mention of Advocate’s Studio in their Spring, 2009 newsletter! The newsletter contains an article about blawgs and legal bloggers, offering an overview of the subject matter of blogging, where to find blogs, what are the ethical issues and lots of other tidbits of good information. I feel particularly honored to have the Studio mentioned along with some most excellent examples of legal blogging, including Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Wayne Schiess’ Blog.LegalWriting.Net and Michelle Lore’s Minnesota Lawyer blog.

Blogging is becoming a primary means of communication across the strata of our profession. Students, attorneys, professionals, clients, academics and other “interested parties” are on even footing in the blawgosphere. Blogging and related social outposts in the Web 2.0 world remove artificial barriers separating levels of experience and position. Opening lines of communication through blogging holds the promise of harmonizing and democratizing our profession and assisting in bringing the practice into the twenty-first century. Much of this promise lies with law students – the true future of legal practice. Here’s hoping that these students embrace the new technologies, expand and improve the medium and assist us “older” folk in learning some new tricks in the process.

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Social Networking Site "LinkedIn" Is Neither Social Nor A Network: Discuss

 With all due apologies to Linda Richman, I thought I might take a stab at the social networking site LinkedIn, suss out its value to the business professional as source for networking, and ascertain whether it really is “MySpace for Grownups.”

As described in the Wikipedia entry for “LinkedIn”:

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003[1] mainly used for professional networking. As of December 2007, its site traffic was 3.2 million visitors per month, growing at an annual growth rate of about 485%.[2] As of May 2008, it had more than 22 million registered users,[3] spanning 150 industries.

It is described as a business social networking site: you sign up as a member for free, fill out information about yourself relevant to your networking aspirations and seek to make contacts with other LinkedIn members. You can search for other members based on various criteria and invite them to join your own network, building a virtual database of contact details. You also can access second and third degree contacts – persons known to your first level contacts – via your first level contacts. Theoretically, this web of contacts is intended to generate jobs and business opportunities. Employers and corporate members can list jobs and search unconnected members for likely candidates. This is where the site’s profit margin comes from: recruiters or businesses that wish to be able to mine the profiles of members outside the contact network pay for the privilege. For the rest of us, LinkedIn represents a “gated access approach”, intended to provide members with a sense of security regarding their information and the quality of contacts. There is also a forum called LinkedIn Answers which permits members to pose questions to the community for general discussion. LinkedIn Groups allows you to join a group based on your school, your industry or your profession.

For the mobile user, LinkedIn started a stripped down mobile version in February, 2008.

The value of LinkedIn and comparisons to the wildly popular social networking sites MySpace and Facebook are not new topics. Over a year ago, Seamus McCauley wrote in his blog “Virtual Economics” that the problem with LinkedIn is that it doesn’t do anything. “You sign up, you find some colleagues, you link to them and then…nothing.” Umair, in the blog BubbleEdge Generation, claims the real problem with LinkedIn is that there is no meaningful opportunity for interaction: LinkedIn is too clean compared to the “ugly, nasty, digital ghetto” of MySpace. In other words, LinkedIn apparently has sacrificed open dialog for gated security. The commenters on these blogs do not necessarily agree with these conclusions, describing circumstances in which LinkedIn has provided them with real value. Facebook, which also has the “gate” of requiring an email upon sign up, appears to bridge the MySpace and LinkedIn models.

There does appear to be some utility in LinkedIn, however, as its growing popularity attests to. The following chart, from simplyhired.com shows an increase in jobs secured through LinkedIn, although the other sites, which have an overall numbers advantage, have shown a similar increase during the same period.

 

"We Want To Spread The Knowledge For Free Over The Internet"

Have you heard of PreCYdent? If you are a legal researcher and you haven’t, you should take notice. Heck, if you are one of the big Two, you know – Westlaw and Lexus, you probably should take notice too. This Web-based legal research site promises a more internet-like search interface and legal authority for FREE – my favorite word. The site is supported by advertising. It was formed in April, 2006 by Tom Smith in San Diego and Antonio Tomarchio in Milan, Italy. PreCYdent utilizes the same search technology as the major Web search engines. At this time, the database includes U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals cases from 12 states, with all 50 states to follow within the next few months. It even includes a citator service. PreCYdent also offers the Web 2.0 experience of an on-line community where people can share knowledge, experience and assistance. I find the ability to “rate” cases intriguing.

Check out an advertisement / tutorial prepared by Mr. Tomarchio on YouTube:

I learned from the clip that I can install a widget on my website that will point to a PreCYdent search. I think I will add one. Stay tuned to http://advantageadvocates.com for your chance to try PreCydent.

For more, visit http://advantageadvocates.com