I Fought the Law and The Law Won and I Won Too

I Fought the Law and The Law Won and I Won Too


Tom MacWright

March 08, 2016


  1. I fought the law and the law won and I

    won too but I didn’t achieve my original goal - Tom MacWright
  2. 1. Nobody knows the law

  3. Biking on sidewalks is illegal in here And legal over

  4. None
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  6. First round

  7. Bike lane: no action. Let’s take the long route.

  8. an app for answering those ‘gotcha’ questions with real legal

    citations bikelawDC
  9. <html> </html>

  10. <html> <head> </head> </html>

  11. <html> <head> <title>bikelawDC</title> </head> </html>

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  13. <html> <head> <title>bikelawDC</title> </head> <body> Cyclists under 16 must wear

    a helmet. <a href=‘’>Code 50-V-16A</a> </body> </html>
  14. <a href=‘’>Code 50-V-16A</a>

  15. href=‘’

  16. href=‘щ(ಠፅಠщ)’

  17. That was the day I found out that you couldn’t

    link to the DC Code, on purpose.
  18. an app: 1 weekend real legal citations: 1.5 years

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  21. [citation needed]

  22. - DC passes Bills - Westlaw integrates bills into the

    law - Westlaw has the only copy of the law - Westlaw runs the web portal - Westlaw prints the books - Westlaw doesn’t let you link - Westlaw doesn’t let you download
  23. If you’re looking for villains, don’t blame your civil servants.

    Blame: - EULAs - Thompson Reuters - Reed Elsevier - Disney
  24. Links are the Internet

  25. Laws are the Government

  26. Information Management: A Proposal

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  30. Really, you’re still on about that?

  31. This was honestly a terrible time to talk to me

    at parties
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  33. Cue the inevitable backlash

  34. The idea that the Council (or anyone else) can copyright

    DC laws is pure nonsense. Cry me a river... Just cite the section of the code like every lawyer's done for the entire history of ever. It's available online and takes two seconds to look up - which is a lot easier to find than any other time in the entire history of the republic (when you had to either buy a copy of the code or ... gasp... go to a library and/or courthouse). If a person actually cares about a particular issue, they will look up the law - if they can't be bothered to do anything beyond clicking a link why should anyone care what they think. I love how tech types whine and moan when something isn’t in the most convenient or easily accessible format for them. It kind of reminds me of people who complain that people have taken “their” spot in front of their house. That's b.s. If you did a FOIA, D.C. would have to provide you the code. The only question would be the format. T READ THE COM M ENT DON’T READ THE COM DON’T READ THE COM M ENTS N’T READ THE COM M ENTS EAD THE COM M ENT READ THE DON’T READ THE COM M ENT DON’T READ THE COM M EN
  35. - FAQ: No, you can’t “just FOIA it” Yes, they

    can claim copyright. No, print isn’t good enough. Q: but can you FOIA it? A: No, seriously, you can’t just FOIA it. Q: Really? A: Really really.
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  38. April 4th: DC releases a very dirty but very real

    copy of the full code, without any legal constraints. _success_
  39. No, but really, how did this happen? CIVIC HACKING PROTIPS

  40. 1: RELENTLESSLY EMAIL PEOPLE When they don’t respond on time,

    set a timer for a few days and email them again. Find every address you can, organize all the meetings you can. This is a breadth-first search. CIVIC HACKING PROTIPS
  41. 2: REITERATE EVERYTHING Most people skim, and even those who

    read forget, often. Restating goals and fundamentals in every single conversation is boring for you but vital to success. CIVIC HACKING PROTIPS
  42. 3: CHOOSE YOUR TEAM When you find someone who gets

    it, mind-meld with them ASAP. Good people come out of the woodwork and help in amazing, unexpected ways. CIVIC HACKING PROTIPS
  43. 4: DO NOT FETISHIZE TECH This project required a few

    days of software development time, total. Writing, talking, annoying people on email: those were the real tasks. CIVIC HACKING PROTIPS
  44. href=‘’

  45. href=‘http://dccode.org/simple/ Title-50/Chapter-16A/’

  46. href=‘http://dcdecoded.org/50-1651/’

  47. and then I didn’t achieve my original goal

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  50. Permit applied

  51. Permit granted

  52. Permits are nonsense

  53. - I turned a small project into a bigger, more

    obscure project - Going a level deeper ended up solving a way better problem - Solving the big problem didn’t solve the little problem - Permits are absurd and cars are vile SUMMING UP