JILT 2000 (1) - Allen et al
Figure 1 The Swiki for the Copyright Act incorporating the INCLUDE mechanism
The resulting copyright rulebase.
5.3 Third Stage
Stage 3 involved a new integrated development environment, which links to the larger AustLII database of legislation. Automatic hyperlinks within the knowledgebase help the creation process, and centrally editable swiki pages enable the cooperative definition of central objects in the system. This system is available here.
The system works in three 'modes'; Legislation Mode, which acts like an alternate interface to the legislation held on AustLII; Comment Mode, in which any text can be put, such as comments on the design on the rules; and Rule Mode in which the actual text of the created WYSH Rule is put.
Figure 2 illustrates the Legislation Mode, in which the actual text of the legislation can be browsed. This is the Table of Contents of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). By moving into the Comment Mode, the knowledgebase creator can see what comments have been put there; in this case a small introductory tutorial (Figure 3).
Figure 2:Legislation Mode
Figure 3: Comment Mode
Rules are edited and created in the Rule Mode, (Figure 4 shows the Rule for s48). The problems with the earlier Stage 2 Swiki were partially solved by automating the inclusion of rules on the swiki, so that the INCLUDE tag was no longer needed, and allowing each creator to specify whether his or her page is visible to the rest of the system.
The system thus allows the developer to run the rulebase with his or her new rule, but won't include it in other people's WYSH sessions until the developer specifies that the page becomes visible.
Figure 4: Rule Mode (Rule for s48)
The system also aids collaboration by creating a separate 'template' web page for each section of the Act, and for each separate explicit definition contained in the Act. The assumption here is that knowledgebases which embody statutes should be isomorphic to the statute (see [Greenleaf, Mowbray and van Dijk, 1995] at 5.5), and that the segment of a statute on which it is most sensible to work is at section level.
It inserts the formal parts to commence a new rule before each subsection. The heuristic implemented here, derived from our experience in previous conversions of Australian legislation, is that you almost always need a new rule for each subsection of an Act, but there is no consistency in relation to units smaller than a subsection. The rule is assumed to be both backward and forward chaining ('RULE'), as this is the form of rule which predominates.
This automatically inserted formal part contains a consistent name for the rule, extracted from the text of the Act (eg 'RULE Copyright Act 1968 - s29(1) PROVIDES').
The use of wikis in the collaborative creation of legal knowledgebases over the World Wide Web appears to have considerable potential. More experiments are planned to be conducted in the future in this interesting new area of research.
AustLII, 1997a - Greenleaf, G, Mowbray, A, King, G, Cant, S, and Chung, P 'More than wyshful thinking: AustLII's legal inferencing via the World-Wide-Web', Proc. Sixth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law 1997.
AustLII, 1997b Greenleaf, G, Mowbray, A, King, G, Cant, S, and Chung, P 'New Legal Services via the Web - AustLII's Research on Legal Inferencing', Chapter 5 of Greenleaf et al New Directions in Law via the Internet: The AustLII Papers  COL 2, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/col/1997/2.
AustLII, 1997c - Mowbray A, Greenleaf G, King G and Cant S, 1997 Wysh Developers Manual, 1997 COL 1, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/col/1997/1.
Chang - Bay-Wei Chang 'In-Place Editing of Web Pages: Sparrow Community-Shared Documents', Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, http://www.parc.xerox.com/istl/projects/sparrow/doc/www7 .
Greenleaf, G, Mowbray, A, and van Dijk, P, 1995 Representing and using legal knowledge in integrated decision support systems - DataLex WorkStations  COL 1, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/col/1995/1.
This is a Commentary published on 30 June 2000.
Citation: Allen R, 'With a wysh and a prayer: An Experiment in Cooperative Development of Legal Knowledgebases', 2000 (2) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). <http://elj.warwick.ac.uk/jilt/00-2/allen.html>. New citation as at 1/1/04: <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2000_2/allen/>