The networked world changed publishing and writing books considerably. Indeed, we are living through the changes – they have yet to settle. The changes allow us to reconsider how we develop our understanding of topics and bring them to the attention of those that are interested to learn more.
Previously, learned books would (and continue to be) written by one or more authors; be reviewed by a number of peers (sometimes blind review, sometimes open review), and then published. In some areas of life, the book might become a text of great importance, and be relied upon. It is useful to have a text with an authoritative voice that can be trusted. In such circumstances, the author or authors become the recognized authority on a topic – so much so that we might defer to their analysis, even when other, more realistic options might be available, but do not have the same aura of respectability.
We now live in an age when this no longer needs to be so. It is possible that a great deal of relevant, interesting and highly valuable knowledge and analysis is available to us all now, and a lot is free. But there is a problem of sorting the light and barely relevant from the high quality and substantial.
This leads me on to indicate why I wanted to be part of the OBserving Law, IALS Open Book Service for Law project. I recognize that if my books are to continue to be of interest to judges, lawyers and others with an interest in the subjects, it is desirable to engage others in taking part in keeping the text up-to-date, and to recognize the part they play in the project.
Once my books go online for free, I aim to encourage anybody with an interest, whether judge, lawyer, legal academic, law student or practitioners, academics, students of technical subjects that are relevant, and to engage in the text and to help keep it up-to-date. The gathering of case law and understanding the changes in legislation are so diverse and rapid, that a single person cannot, realistically, keep abreast of all the changes. Therefore, in order to keep my books fresh and in an attempt to persuade people to rely on the content, I ask for the following help (this list is not exhaustive):
- To up-date the web site with changes to legislation and case law, including reports of appellate decisions of cases reported in earlier editions that have gone to appeal’
- To challenge comments, observations and analysis in the current edition of the book.
- To suggest articles and books of relevance that are not mentioned in the present edition.
- To provide analysis and discussion of relevant case law and legislation.
We wish to do this publicly on the website, where space is provided, so we can understand the issues raised and case law mentioned.
In return, every person who contributes to this process (that helps in other than a superficial way) – a process that will be moderated – will be acknowledged in the next edition. Copyright is covered by the copyright licence that currently applies to the books, namely: under a CC BY-NC-ND licence.
All we ask is that you:
1. Provide us with:
2. Take part in the spirit of aiming to expand our knowledge collectively, with dignity, honesty and integrity.
Stephen Mason, 2016