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Category Archives: Education

The Rise of Plain Language Laws

Blasie, Michael, The Rise of Plain Language Laws (October 1, 2021). University of Miami Law Review, 2022 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3941564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3941564

“When lawmakers enacted 778 plain language laws across the United States, no one noticed. Apart from a handful, these laws went untracked and unstudied. Without study, large questions remain about these laws’ effects and utility, and about how they inform the adoption or rejection of plain language. This Article creates a conceptual framework for plain language laws to set the stage for future empirical research and normative discussions on the value of plain language. It unveils the first nationwide empirical survey of plain language laws to reveal their locations, coverages, and standards. In doing so, the Article creates a systematic method to find these laws. Then it coins categories and terminology to describe their coverage and standards, thus creating a timely launchpad for future scholarship on domestic and international plain language laws. Along the way, the Article exposes the previously unknown scope of these laws—from election ballots and insurance contracts to veterans housing and consumer contracts to regulatory drafting and governor reports. That scope underscores the pervasive influence of plain language across public and private sectors, and over lawyers and non-lawyers alike. More, the survey reveals significant intrastate and interstate variations and trends in coverages and standards. With this knowledge, for the first-time empirical research can more precisely measure the benefits and costs of plain language laws while controlling for variables. Plus, the Article sets the stage for a forthcoming series of normative assessments on the role and design of plain language laws. Ultimately, the Article reignites a lively discourse on plain language amongst lawmakers, practitioners, and academics.”

Inside the ‘Misinformation’ Wars

The New York Times: “…While some academics use the term carefully, “misinformation” in the case of the lost laptop was more or less synonymous with “material passed along by Trump aides.” And in that context, the phrase “media manipulation” refers to any attempt to shape news coverage by people whose politics you dislike. (Emily Dreyfuss,… Continue Reading

Merriam-Webster chooses vaccine as the 2021 word of the year

AP: “With an expanded definition to reflect the times, Merriam-Webster has declared an omnipresent truth as its 2021 word of the year: vaccine. “This was a word that was extremely high in our data every single day in 2021,” Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large, told The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s announcement. “It really represents two… Continue Reading

One of the world’s largest economic databases turns 30

MarketPlace: “It’s been 30 years since the start of the Federal Reserve Economic Data, or FRED, an online database within the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The site contains more than 800,000 data series from over 100 different sources, making it something of a one-stop shop for people trying to understand the economy. “We… Continue Reading

Amazon Web Services (AWS): A cheat sheet

TechRepublic: “The rise of cloud computing provides businesses the ability to quickly provision computing resources without the costly and laborious task of building data centers, and without the costs of running servers with underutilized capacity due to variable workloads. Amazon Web Services was the first large vendor of easily affordable cloud infrastructure and services, and… Continue Reading

When You Should Use LinkedIn’s Resume Builder, and When You Shouldn’t

LifeHacker: “There’s never a bad time to apply for a new job, but updating your resume can begin to feel like a big task (especially if you’re already overworked). If you’ve got a LinkedIn profile though, you can use what you’ve already written to build and customize a strategic resume, as well as speed up… Continue Reading

This New Tool Lets You See Floods From Around the World, Dating Back to 1985

Smithsonian Magazine: An innovative interactive map could aid future disaster planning, especially for vulnerable countries in the developing world. “Last month, the United Nations University released a free tool that generates high resolution maps of floods worldwide since 1985. The new resource comes after a year of historic water-related disasters, including severe floods in Western… Continue Reading

As Calls to Ban Books Intensify, Digital Librarians Offer Perspective

Internet Archive Blogs: “From Texas to Virginia to Pennsylvania, there is a growing movement to challenge books in schools that some suggest are inappropriate for students. Concern goes beyond explicit content; it now includes opposition to LGBTQIA material, the history of racism, and material that may cause discomfort to readers. While efforts to ban books… Continue Reading

Librarians, Educators Warn of ‘Organized’ Book Banning Efforts

Publisher Weekly – “…New headlines virtually every day tell the story: across the country, there is an unprecedented spike in attempts to ban books from schools and libraries. And while efforts to remove books from schools and library collections are not uncommon, librarians and freedom to read advocates warn that this current spike in challenges… Continue Reading

Global State of Democracy in 2021 Report

“Democracy faces perfect storm as the world becomes more authoritarian Many democratic governments are increasingly adopting authoritarian tactics, accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, while autocratic regimes are consolidating their power. The world is becoming more authoritarian as autocratic regimes become even more brazen in their repression. Many democratic governments are backsliding and are adopting authoritarian… Continue Reading