This is the first installment in "33 Wikis," a close look at best practices in wiki-based collaboration. Each day -- for 33 days -- we look at one wiki and briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and what we can all learn from it. If you want to nominate a wiki, please let us know. On day 34 we will post a public wiki featuring info on all nominees.
Wikilaw's goal is to build the largest open-content legal resource in the world. To accomplish this goal, Wikilaw needs your help! We encourage all law professors, practitioners, and students to share their knowledge. Currently, there are roughly 1,000,000 lawyers in the United States. If every lawyer in America contributed a fraction of their legal knowledge to this site, Wikilaw would become one of the largest libraries of legal information in the world.
What this wiki is for: this is an example of large-group collaboration, in which participants can tap the "wisdom of crowds" to get quality information at no cost. The fact that this experiment is happening in a market where there are commercial alternatives makes Wikilaw a lot like Wikipedia. In fact, we can think of it as a Wikipedia for law, for practitioners and laypeople alike.
We we like it: In a past life, I worked in the law and public policy, so personally I am thrilled to see a resource like this. But we also like it because the scale of its ambition. In addition to the legal reference portions of this site, there is a project called Democracy 2.0 that aims to develop consensus on law and legal principles, outside of any institutional structure. This is an interesting example of the kind of ad hoc political organization that we expect to see more of in the next few years.
What we can all learn from it: this is a new experiment in the making, but the Wikipedia-like approach might encourage other professions to attempt similar projects.