Creating Online Parks and What Courts Can Learn from Them

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“The public park is only one of many institutions that was created to enact America’s egalitarian values. At the turn of the 20th century, public libraries opened nationwide to help foster literacy. In the 1910s, a few communities in the Midwest embraced the radical notion of free, universal secondary education: high school.”- Eli Pariser (“To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks“).

In the article by Wired Magazine, “To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks“, the author Eli Pariser explains that “Now, accelerated by the pandemic, we spend much of our time living and conversing with others in a different location: digital space. But social media and messaging platforms weren’t designed to serve as public spaces. They were designed to monetize attention.” It is unreasonable to expect private corporations to address growing a community on their own.

Pariser argues that we need public squares on the internet. In public spaces “we run into people we’d normally avoid, encounter events we’d never expect, and have to negotiate with other groups that have their own needs.” These run-ins create communities.

As many services move online, we need to move some of our public spaces online. One space that should be adapted to the online world is the hallway in courthouses. These public spaces provide a forum for lawyers to discuss matters before or after the hearing and to know the speed at which the docket is being addressed.

Many lawyers are missing the opportunities that physical courtrooms provide, namely the ability to confer with counsel in the hallways before or after the hearing. Sometimes critical conversations take place in those hallway discussions, that otherwise would not have happened. One solution could be the creation of virtual hallways (like a version of chatrooms left on before or after a hearing). These virtual hallways could facilitate conversations between lawyers and help lawyers know how fast the docket is moving. It could help create a sense of community, much in the same way as physical courthouses.

(Views are my own and do not represent the views of any organization. This article was originally posted on slaw.ca. heatherdouglaslaw.com)

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