Last night I discovered a great source of vintage versions of the Oregon Revised Statutes: The Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine. I had a true Homer Simpson moment — “Doh! Why didn’t I think of this before?” For research-aholics, this is nothing short of nirvana.
Great but not perfect
The WayBack Machine isn’t a perfect solution, though: it can be arbitrary about what it saves as well as how it does it. Further, documents can be deleted at the request of the original site owner, even if the content is in the public domain. These drawbacks lead me to…
The creation of the WebLaws.org Archive — a permanent public archive
I knew I’d eventually integrate all these previous texts into OregonLaws.org. But until I get around to that, I realized we need a permanently accessible repository of raw source texts for a few reasons: (1) There’s no good way for people to find out that these texts even exist, because the WayBack Machine doesn’t allow search engines like Google to index its site: I had been searching in vain for these for a long time. (2) The state of Oregon takes down the old web pages when it updates the ORS. Since every document on OregonLaws.org cites its source with a link, I need to create a permanent location for these before they disappear off the web. (3) This archive will provide the raw materials for others to work with and innovate in ways that I haven’t even thought of.
I followed Carl Malamud’s excellent example and created an “archive” that’s out there for anyone to access. It’s not too beautiful and not easy to search, but the content is organized and freely available.
It takes a bit of time to archive this much material, and so the process will last a few days. Many pieces are there now, such as the 1999 ORS table of contents and its chapters like 723 Credit Unions. I’ll write another post when the collection is complete.