WEX – An Online Legal Encyclopedia

Audience: All
Technical Level: Low

WEX is an ambitious attempt to collaboratively develop an encyclopedia-like resource for law novices. This is not an easy course to steer — collaboratively-developed open encyclopedias like Wikipedia have sparked a lot of controversy, and it is far from clear that they are an unalloyed good thing. This session will discuss WEX, and the idea of open legal encyclopedias in general, from a number of different viewpoints. First of all, do the potential benefits of such a resource outweigh the drawbacks? Second, what happens at the intersection of wiki-like software (such as MediaWiki, which WEX uses) and educational legal content? After all, WEX works as a species of content-management and authoring system that can aggregate little bits of new, used, and repurposed information in new and interesting ways.

This session will be of interest to wiki geeks, online-resource developers, and others interested in collaboratively developing legal-education materials (including library materials like pathfinders and research guides).

Here is the FreeMind map that goes with this presentation. You can get the appropriate software to read it at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/

The file is here: CALI Wex presentation.mm

Thomas Bruce
Director, Legal Information Institute
Cornell Law School

About Elmer Masters

Elmer R. Masters is the Director of Technology at the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (www.cali.org) where he works on interesting projects involving technology and legal education like eLangdell, Classcaster, Lawbooks, QuizWright, and the CALI website. He has nearly 25 years of experience building tech tools for legal education and systems for accessing law and legal materials on the Internet. He is the admin of the Teknoids mailing list (www.teknoids.net) and has been blogging about legal education, law, and technology for over 15 years (www.symphora.com). He has a JD from Syracuse University College of Law and was employed by Syracuse, Cornell Law School, and Emory University School of Law before joining CALI in 2003. Elmer has presented at the CALI Conference for Law School Computing (where he organizes the program), the AALL and AALS Annual Meetings, Law Via The Internet, and other conferences, symposia, and workshops on topics ranging from IT management in law schools to building open access court reporting systems to information architecture design and implementation in law.
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