Discussion Questions (2000) Topic - 
Text Retrieval and Hypertext in Legal Applications


Please read The Rules for the class discussion lists, before sending answers to any of these questions to the list.

Questions 1 - 5

The following websites in Q1 - Q5 should be evaluated (briefly) according to:

(i) The hypertext and search facilities they offer; and

(ii) Whether they employ good principles of hypertext design. You should consider the criteria suggested by Nielsen and by Chung in their articles, but you are welcome to use your own criteria as well.

1 Evaluation - Cornell LII

The Legal Information Institute (LII) at Cornell

2 Evaluation - Scale+


3 Evaluation - Gilbert + Tobin

Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers

4 Evaluation - Tasmanian legislation

Tasmanian legislation

5 Evaluation - Law 4 U

Law 4 U

6 Web design and commercial factors

If you were designing a web site for a law firm, would you take a different view than Nielsen of some of the factors he discusses in his articles in mistakes in web design?

7 Concordances

If I have a retrieval system that creates a concordance of a set of documents so that it records (for each word) the document in which the word occurs, the location of the sentence in which the word occurs, and the location of each word within the sentence, which of the following search operators (connectors) could be created in that retrieval system?: If the retrieval system was changed so that it no longer recorded the location of the sentence in which the word occurs, or the location of each word within the sentence, but instead only recorded the location of the paragraph in which the word occurs, how would your answer change (if at all)?

8 Differences between search engines

Search Engine Watch's Major Search Engines page lists and describes the top 24 web-wide search engines. From this page (and by looking at some of the search engines), list 10 things that differentiate some major search engines from others. Give at least one example of a search engine that has the feature you mention.

 Example: "Relevance ranking based in part on 'link popularity' or number of sites linking to a page (eg Google)"

9 Precision, recall, and relevance ranking

One of the problems of retrieval systems was supposed to be that there was an inverse relationship between precision and recall. What effect does the use of relevance ranking to display search results have on this 'problem'?

Are 'precision' and 'recall' still relevant to measure the performance of systems that use relevance ranking?

10 Integration of hypertext with text retrieval

By combining hypertext and text retrieval, what advantages can you get from the combination that is not found in either of the technologies when used in a 'stand alone' way?

11 Public legal information institutes

From his recent papers on the future of free access to legal information, does Tom Bruce think there is a future for 'legal information institutes' like AustLII and Cornell? What is it? Do you think he is correct?

12 Point-in-time legislation

Why is it important to have 'point in time' legislation, and to whom is it important?

 Do you have any criticisms of how it has been implemented by the Tasmanian government (see Tasmanian legislation)?

13 Improvements to case-law systems

Taking as a starting point how case-law is presented in AustLII and SCALEplus, what improvements are needed? How feasible is it that these improvements will be developed?

14 Internet-wide search engines

What more do we need to know to evaluate the effectiveness of internet-wide search engines? Is it important to legal research that we can evaluate their effectiveness?

15 Directories and search engines for law

What are the principal points of difference between AustLII's World Law and the SOSIG Law Gateway?

 Are developments like these likely to provide any significant long-term benefits over internet-wide search engines?

16 Contributing editors

The Open Directory Project says it 'provides the opportunity for everyone to contribute'. After examining the Law sub-directories of ODP, and ODPs editorial policies, comment on whether this approach is working effectively for law. What alternative approaches are possible?

 Are developments like ODP likely to provide any significant long-term benefits over internet-wide search engines?

17 WorldLII?

A distributed free access World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII) is under development. Some brief details are available at <http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~graham/Slides/Dublin/worldlii.html> .

 To what extent (if at all) would a development like this provide any alternative to the emerging global legal publishing empires of which Lexis, WestLaw and Kluwer are part?