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5.5. Options for expansion of Development Law Subject pages

The DIAL Index prototype contains a limited range of Development Law Subject pages, but the fully developed system would be based to a large extent around the expansion of these types of pages.

5.5.1. Rate of expansion

Development Law Subject pages such as the `Telecommunications' pages cannot be built quickly or automatically. It will take a reasonably skilled indexer one to two days to construct an index of National Legislation even on an easily described topic such as `telecommunications law' (and this may take longer as the range of legislation expands), and at least another day is needed to locate relevant international agreements and organisations, law reform reports, and other Internet law indexes, and to construct even a small range of embedded searches. Although economies of scale may develop, it will be difficult for an indexer to construct extensive indexes on more than a couple of topics per week (assuming that this is all the person is doing).

Useful Development Law Subject pages can be built more quickly if a comprehensive country-by-country index of National Legislation is not attempted, but more rapidly implimentable techniques are used. For example, provided that legislation from as many countries as possible has been made searchable via its addition to DIAL Search, then the construction of a few well-crafted embedded searches over the proposed Legislation Library in DIAL Search can provide an extensive but not comprehensive list of legislation on that topic, and the list will grow automatically as more legislation is added to DIAL Search. Similarly, embedded searches on the same topic over the proposed Treaties Library, Law Reform Library and Law Indexes Library in DIAL Search can produce similarly rapid results in these areas, provided that an extensive range of treaties, law reform reports etc is added to DIAL Search. In short, the expansion of DIAL Search can make it possible to develop rapidly a basic level of Development Law Subject pages.

This suggests that two levels of Development Law Subject pages should be considered: standard (relying to a large extent on embedded DIAL Searches), and comprehensive (involving in addition the country-by-country indexing of legislation, law reform reports etc). There are stages in between, such as where standard pages are supplemented by individual links to resources from key countries (eg the USA). Work on the development of standard pages could progress systematically across a wide list of subject headings.

Topics for which comprehensive Development Law Subject pages are to be created could then be chosen with some care, based perhaps on factors such as (i) a priority need for such information, based on the known legislative agendas of DMCs; (ii) the Bank's priority areas for development law reform; (iii) the information needs of particular development projects funded by the Bank; (iv) requests received in relation to the information needs of other particular projects, whether by national governments, other development funding agencies, NGOs or otherwise. The DIALogue facility may be a useful source of feedback for deciding priorities in the choice of topics for comprehensive indexing.

5.5.2. Choice of subject index headings and embedded search terms

The expansion of the Development Law Subject pages will require a considered approach to choice of subject indexing terms, both in order to structure the sub-headings of the pages, and in order to choose terms to include in embedded searches (the importance of which are explained above).

The two problems are similar in many respects, both raising variants of the following issues:

A list of subject headings proposed by the Bank for expansion of the Development Law Subject headings is in the Annexures to this Chapter. It is a valuable starting point for development of the long-term structure of the index, but is essentially a set of first level headings which requires both an augmentation of civil law terminology, and an expansion to at least second-level subject headings for the purpose of both DIAL Index headings and embedded searches, probably by use of one or more legal thesaurii.

Suitable legal subject headings and thesaurii are not widely available for use on the Internet. No single available source seems to provide what will be needed for Project DIAL. It is particularly valuable to locate thesaurii that are available via the Internet, since they will be available as reference tools for all indexers working on Project DIAL.

The US Library of Congress' Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), discussed in Chapter 2, provides the GLIN Thesaurus[126]http://lcweb2.loc.gov/glin/indxhlp.html], which it also describes as `GLIN Search Terms (Subject Headings)'. It provides a list of first level subject headings, giving access to a more detailed second-level list of broader, narrower and related terms, as illustrated below for the subject `water'.

Entries concerning water in the GLIN thesaurus -


The `Water Laws' detailed entry in the GLIN thesaurus - http://rs7.loc.gov:8081/lexico/glin/w/Water_laws.html

In this example, the GLIN thesaurus does not provide all of the synonyms and related terms which would probably be needed to construct a comprehensive Development Law Subject page concerning water resources, including terms such as `riparian rights' and `irrigation', and even broader terms such as `law of the sea'. Nevertheless, the GLIN thesaurus is a very valuable resource to have available on-line, particularly as means of checking American terminology. GLIN does not have a very strict hierarchical structure, as it has some hundreds of first-level headings.

Some other resources which are likely to be valuable in this task are:

Both the LIR and Enterprise thesaurii are available on disk. A licensing arrangement would be necessary if extensive use was to be made of either thesaurii. Subject to licence, it would be possible to make such thesaurii available via the web to all DIAL Index editors in a password-secure location.

5.5.3. Automated conversion of thesauri into DIAL Search terms

A more ambitious approach to the use of thesaurii which should be pursued in the development of a permanent DIAL facility would be to automatically convert every term in one selected thesaurus into a DIAL Search for that word or phrase. Each major heading in the thesaurus would become a separate page in DIAL Index, with every Broad Term, Narrrow Term or Related Term becoming the search terms for a DIAL Search. Preferred Terms would become cross-references to the DIAL Index page for that term.

If this could be done, it would mean that a very extensive set of Development Law Subject pages, based around embedded DIAL Searches, could be created without extensive manual indexing. They could form a basic set of pages, some of which could then be selectively augmented by the addition of indexes of national legislation (such as the `Telecommunications: National Legislation' page) and other hand-created indexes.

The approach must be fully automated if it is to be viable, and this is a significant programming task. It also depends on the choice of one thesaurus as suitable, and it being available for use. The undesirable alternative is for DIAL to construct its own thesaurus.


[127] - a brief description

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