Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Berkman Home

Collaboration Tools

Openlaw is an experiment in process, as well as product. We are continually testing different tools to facilitate collective discussion and collaborative development of argument. Different modes, including web, email, and chat, help at different stages of the development.

  • Website, with htDig search engine
    Openlaw is organized by cases, each with its own website. The website serves as document file, resource library, archive, and collection of links relevant to the case. The search engine can be set to index only pages within the case site.
  • FAQs, e.g. dvd-discuss FAQ
    Frequently Asked Questions documents (FAQs), generated from the online discussions, provide a knowledge base and an introduction for new visitors.

  • Majordomo and MHonarc or Mailman mailing list and web archive
    Mailing lists (listservs) often provide rapid feedback (and high volume) discussion, as mail from all participants goes to everyone else. Archiving by date and message-thread helps keep a record of past discussion. RSS feeds give an alternate window to the information. The lists are used for brainstorming, news updates, and exchange of drafts. In most cases, they are structured in levels:
    • discuss: general discussion, unmoderated
    • digest: daily compilation of the discuss list
    • announce: moderated list for relatively infrequent announcements

  • TWiki collaborative web
    The TWiki is a web sub-site in which users can edit and add pages. The Twiki preserves a record of changes to its pages, enabling us to annotate documents and update drafts, while comparing pages with their earlier versions.

  • Annotation Master
    The Annotation Master (still in alpha release) allows users to add notes to existing web pages on this server or elsewhere. Readers can suggest changes to a document or overlay corrections to propaganda from the other side.

  • HyperNews bulletin board
    Message boards enable long-term exploration of topic "threads."

  • Phorums threaded messaging (e.g. MS-DOJ discussion)
  • Rotisserie exchange of comments and responses
  • Hosting of drafts and commentary
Odds and ends:

Wendy Seltzer
Berkman Center for Internet & Society