The freedom of information

Last spring I wrote about Westlaw having RSS feeds available for searches. Then in the late summer a note about Lexis adding web feeds to their searches as well. In the time between it turns out that PubMed added feeds too.

There is an important dichotomy in the areas of law and medicine, however. In the area of law we depend upon two large companies to compile and publish the law of the land, cases and other important notes. If one wants to engage in the practice of law they must subscribe to these services. Medicine, to be sure, has its own databases of publications and information. However, for the lay person there is a big difference. In order for the lay person to search case law they must find a way, which generally includes shelling out bucks, to search the holy grail databases. In medicine it is possible for anyone to search PubMed's database.

Lest it be lost on anyone the ultimate irony would be that it is the government in its various forms that produces the law and the cases that interpret the law. In medicine they provide funding and have some agencies involved in medical research but it is not the primary job of two-thirds of the government as are law making and interpretation.