Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article by my friend Katherine Mangu-Ward about RECAP:
Last week, a team from Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy took a pot shot at legal secrecy, setting in motion a scheme to filch protected judicial records and make them available for free online. One of the developers, Harvard’s Stephen Schultze, says he went digging for some First Amendment precedent last fall and was shocked by the outdated technology he found. Knowing that “there’s a certain geek cache to openness projects these days,” Mr. Schultze and Princeton computer science grad students Tim Lee and Harlan Yu went straight to work.
My favorite part is the conclusion:
Tech celebs like Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales have flocked to the Sunlight Foundation, which uses the Internet to improve meaningful access to government. Developer Tim Lee says “there’s just a ton of low-hanging fruit. The hard part is getting the data out. The fun part is doing stuff with it.”
With geeks like these on the job, the time when a farm bill has 31,452 “friends” may not be far off. (Of course, 31,449 of them will be farmers.) Judicial stats may soon appear with scores from the day’s games at a sports-and-courts betting site. Someday your government may have as little privacy as you do.
We can hope!