Remember back in February when I went to the Northern Voice blogging conference and I said the only good things about it were the keynotes, one of the sessions, and hanging out with a couple of cool people? One of those people was my friend Zak. I know Zak through Mandy Moore (and, by the way, have you seen Mandy’s new book Yarn Bombing that is, quite seriously, the bomb?).

Zak and I chatted a lot that day at Northern Voice and we’ve met for coffee every so often since then. We have a lot of similar interests, and I was fascinated when he told me about his new project, LexPublica. Headed up by Zak and his business partner Martin, LexPublica is going to open source the law by providing community-produced, Creative-Commons-licensed contracts for any and all to use for free. It’s an ambitious and inspiring project, and without blinking I volunteered to help in any way I could—what better way to spend my not-working year than to contribute in some way to such a project?

I’ll be involved with LexPublica in several ways, many of which are still being hashed out. But one of the more significant things I’ll be working on is the style guide. As you well know, I’m a word nerd and a grammar geek, so I’m intensely excited about working on this aspect of the endeavour. People from all over the world will eventually be collaborating to produce contracts, so in addition to nitty-gritty grammar, style, and usage rules; citation guidelines; legal usage rules; and bigger-picture contract structure guides, we’ll be specifying preferences for terms and styles that are often influenced by region or dialect (like, “Do we call it soda or pop or Coke or a soft drink?” except, you know, with legal terms).

This kind of project isn’t as far a cry from my work in crafts as it might seem. One of the things I was most excited about when I started at Interweave Crochet was working on our style for writing crochet patterns. Also—and correct me if I’m wrong—I think many crafty and generally creative indie-business types could benefit greatly from some of the kinds of contracts LP will be producing in coming months and years—you know, the kinds of things that make you feel totally out of your depth because you can’t afford to hire a lawyer; documents like a website privacy policy, basic employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, etc.

I’ll be tweeting and blogging a bit about the stuff we’re getting into, and I’ll generally be helping out in a bunch of ways. I’m excited to be working on such a big project, and one I think is so smart and has such exciting potential.

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