Electronic Medical Records - N.Y. Times article on use of PDAs in a Miami Hospital is interesting. A lot of stuff you might imagine: better access to patient records, quick transfer of information, drug information readily accessible etc. But here's an unexpected thing:
Dr. Burke's [PDA] system in Miami has produced an unexpected side effect. With a small camera attachment, the doctors and nurses can use their hand-helds to take digital photographs of their charges. The images have restored a little of the humanity that the factory-inspired paper records diminished. Now during the medical staff's weekly meetings, the patients are no longer just charts and words.
I love it. Technology helping doctors humanize their patients. Okay, go ahead...that's a set up line for some wise guy to comment on. Later: here is another article, this one is about George Washington Univ Hospital's use of wireless to enhance patient services.
Software Patents - Kurt Hoglund points to an interesting bit of history from Dan Bricklin and why VisiCalc wasn't patented here. Dan also writes about software patents here.
Why not use public opinion to interpret the Constitution? - well, it's a ridiculous idea because the general public lacks the requisite legal expertise. So then why does the U.S. Supreme Court seem to be drifting in that direction? Howard Bashman's article in Slate provides a clear analysis of why it isn't a good idea to declare things "unconstitutional" without sound basis (public opinion is not a sound basis). The Constitution may be a living document, but it's damn hard to amend. Remember the ERA? A good idea, but the proponents used the wrong approach. Maybe they should have courted public opinion and then gone to court.
Jesus takes your calls - actually he doesn't have time for that, so he just put out an FAQ, which you might want to look at.
The Truth? We can't handle it - or so says TBP in his thoughtful, and imaginative post about con-men. Not surprisingly, he references the movie The Spanish Prisoner. Definitely a classic.
Electronic government - Leah responds to my post about eGovernment & online records and offers the following:
Arizona just showed up as number one in several categories in the Digital State Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Government. Arizona does several things right as far as providing electronic services; for example, statutes, bills, and session laws are pretty quickly available at the Arizona State Legislature site and the Arizona Supreme Court does a decent job of providing their opinions in PDF format. But the Court of Appeals' websites (Division One and Two) are pretty bad. The Arizona Administrative Code site is also not very user friendly. Then there's the problem of finding superceded statutes and regulations. That's hard even in paper, especially for the Administrative Code, which is a looseleaf. It appears that the Arizona State Law Library may be the only place in the state to find old regulations.
Then there's the problem of Westlaw and Lexis often acting as if they "owned" the law. I can't find a reference to it right now, but there was a bill proposed in Ohio (home of one of these companies) that would have required something on the lines of the state having to establish it could provide electronic services cheaper than a commercial provider, before it could provide electronic information. Someone else could probably provide more details on that proposed bill and what happened. That's one of the reasons librarians are opposed to certain database protection bills. ALA/AALL has learned that another objectionable bill is likely to be proposed this fall. For more information, check out ALA's background paper. via Leah's Law Library Weblog
Amen, sister! We own the law, and our government should rub two sticks together and make the little fire that that will give us what we need. Why should we have to traipse around in physical space trying to find some dusty volume of legal arcana? Hey government! If you're going to make the law incomprehensible at least put it out there where can all refer to it and scratch our heads as we try to decipher it.
Software copyright debate - I think that the Lessig-Winer debate is a very important catalyst. Dave focuses on why software copyrights are valuable to developers, and why they keep the source code out of public view (so they can continue to work on it). Fine. Dave is trying to understand how software ties into the law. Doc Searls is trying to find a neat explanation, but says there is no good analogy for software. I agree. So there we have it. We aren't going to have a nice neat unified field theory of intellectual property that accounts for software, and so we can take a seat over there by the quantum physicists. But, I'm not big on theory --unless it helps guide practical behavior. Sometimes you can't find a neat theory and so you just draw water from the well, and build your fire and cook your food. So we don't have a theory. I don't really care.
What I, as a person who seeks a fair application of the laws, do care about is that the current intellectual property scheme is being manipulated by some large planetary bodies who seek only to maximize profit (not that there is anything wrong with that, either). But to have all laws affecting the techno-world that we live in primarily manipulated by business entities that strive to maximize profits is not a good thing. The BigCo's have a huge advantage. They have money. And they thrive on ignorance (most people who walk around shopping for groceries and watching CNN or CBS have no idea about this tech-world that we are dipping our big toe into). So, bottom line? Advantage: BigCo's. Big time.
The only chance that we have to influence the legislators is to use our smaller gravitational fields in a unified way. To do that we have to put aside our differences. I don't know code, but I know the legal system. And guys, let me tell you, we are the unarmed amatuers venturing into a well fortified military encampment. Let's find some common ground here. And quickly.
English History, a blog summary - now this is a useful account by Garrett Moritz. I knew about the House of Tudor, but I had no idea that the International House of Pancakes figured so prominently in British affairs.