Our Minnesota and Wisconsin Legal Reference Libraries are "powered by LawsaurusTM.
So what is Lawsaurus?
Lawsaurus is not an automated classification system. It is an authoring, editing, organizing, and publishing system from Pritchard Law Webs.
Lawsaurus is our latest contribution toward simplifying the process of locating and using the specialized knowledge people need to be productive and successful. It is ideally suited for the professions because professionals need a substantial and flexible knowledge system at their disposal but its potential uses go far beyond the professions.
Lawsaurus is something like an iceberg. 90% of it is below the surface. The part you are seeing operating on LawMoose is one iteration of the range of potential knowledge display modes that result from the knowledge engineering that the behind-the-scenes part of Lawsaurus enables.
Everyone can take advantage of the knowledge engineering an organization can achieve with LawMoose without themselves having to think a bit about how all this information is added and organized.
In fact, we had to rename our former "Directories" as "Libraries" and then, in our Enhanced Edition, as "Law Practice Knowledge Webs" because Lawsaurus let us organize them to such a degree that they were no longer directories or even libraries at all. They have become full-featured, rapidly growing organic knowledge webs.
The typical web directory is built using subjects -- or topics, classifications, hierarchies, or taxonomies (all more or less the same thing) -- that start out general and then get more and more specific.
Every subject in a normal directory needs a "place", and every "thing" in the directory needs a "place" - always a single place in a single, one-dimensional hierarchy or outline, just like the directory structure in your computer, for example.
But we've learned, as have others, that subjects and the pieces of knowledge subjects organize often want to go in more than one "place".
Conventional subject hierarchies and conventional directories do not adequately take that reality into account.
We've also learned that many subjects do not aggregate into nice, neat pyramids or subdivide into smaller and smaller units. Knowledge can be messy, loosely connected, intertwined, and overlapping.
Lawsaurus lets us fully take this reality into account, and actually shape a universe of subjects and the units of information they organize in ways that are far more satisfying for us and useful for our visitors.
Most importantly, Lawsaurus lets us do major reorganizations on the knowledge whenever we need to do it. After a few of these reorganizations, the knowledge falls into place based on experience in actually using it. It's pragmatic and it works, since we all have an innate desire to make sense of our world and bring a sense of order and discipline to the world.
In short, instead of rigid, one-dimensional pigeon-holing, Lawsaurus offers multi-dimensional knowledge mapping and a wonderful flexibility that we can employ to improve the quality of our publishing.
If you have used an outliner to think and write, you already appreciate how the outliner lets you organize and reorganize ideas far better than a word processor does - because you can move the ideas around easily.
But Lawsaurus makes it possible to organize subjects and units of information far better than conventional outliners.
With Lawsaurus, we literally build a web of interwoven knowledge, where relationships between and among the elements of knowledge provide a flexible and much stronger intellectual "skeleton" for the system than a conventional outline or directory could.
Now, subjects go where they go, and evolve with usage and growth of the "things" they encompass.
Actually, Lawsaurus lets us go a step further. We have extended the multi-dimensional concept to encompass the simultaneous presentation of individualized slices of knowledge relevant only to certain audiences.
For example, if you visit both our Minnesota and Wisconsin reference libraries, you may observe that certain knowledge resources are present in both directories, and others are present only in the library where they logically belong.
You will not encounter Wisconsin-specific knowledge resources in Minnesota, or Minnesota-specific resources in Wisconsin. But you will see general resources both Minnesotans and Wisconsinites need in both places, fully integrated with appropriately state-specific resources.
Law is the perfect example of a field where multi-dimensional knowledge systems capable of rapid expansion and evolution are desperately needed -- and almost entirely lacking.
The best part of this is that while Lawsaurus was conceived and developed for legal knowledge engineering challenges initially, it is a general purpose knowledge engineering tool, suited to use by anyone who knows a particular knowledge domain who wishes to tackle the organization and presentation of that body of knowledge to a wider audience.
These days, no body of knowledge comfortably fits in a simple hierarchy. The world and the bits of knowledge we draw from it are inter-related in complex ways. So our knowledge systems, to be truly useful, must likewise reflect that complex reality.
We all need the benefits that advanced knowledge mapping, made possible by LawSaurus, brings to the cacophony of information with which we must deal in our professional and business endeavors.
For more information about LawSaurus, and why we were invited to present LawSaurus as a featured new technology at the 8th International Conference on Substantive Technology in Legal Education and Practice, Seattle, Washington, June 21-23, 2004, contact LaVern A. Pritchard at Pritchard Law Webs.