Monday, February 14, 2005

Visualize Legislative History

J. Matthew Buchanan, whose Promote the Progress blawg focuses on intellectual property and technology law issues, has used his MindManager "Visual Thinking" software to create a visual legislative history of the Cooperative Research and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) Act of 2004. Read his post, Visual, web-based legislative history of the CREATE Act now available, to see a portion of the CREATE Act legislative history mind map, to read Mr. Buchanan's description of the project, and for directions about viewing the entire map.

Although Mr. Buchanan recommends MindManager, you don't have to buy the software to view the map. You can download a free map viewer or link to a web-based interactive version of the CREATE ACT mind map. The web version presents the map in outline format and includes a clickable version of the map itself (click on the link in the upper right corner). Click on the links in the outline or on the map itself to view the referenced documents (committee report, bill text, etc.).

Lawyering Skills students will recognize that the mind map goes beyond what is traditionally considered legislative history by including USPTO rules, commentary, and a place for case interpretation to be added at a later time. However, all of the linked sources are helpful for understanding the CREATE Act. This is a great visual representation of the legislative history and subsequent history of a statute, and it is well worth the effort to check it out.

Mr. Buchanan hopes to create maps for more complex IP bills in the future, so I have added his XML feed to my Bloglines subscriptions. Thanks to Stephen M. Nipper, whose February 14, 2005, issue of IP Memes led me to this source. You can register for free to receive IP Memes and other Technolawyer newsletters at

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