If you were in Portland for AALL in 2008, you have an idea of how entertaining the keynote speaker, David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times, was this morning. His speech, “Disruptive Tech: What’s Coming and How It will Change Everything,” will soon be available at the NCSC website’s CTC2011 page and I recommend it, if only for the songs about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates he performed at the end. Pogue spoke of cultural shifts resulting from technology in terms of apps/smart phones, web2.0 and the huge generational changes we see now. He demonstrated some augmented reality apps: one that can produce information such as the location of a subway station based on your location and a view of where you are standing through your phone and an app, word lens, that translates English and Spanish with the phone’s camera. He described web2.0 as audience as creators. He also cited the surprising, to me, results of a study in Nature that found Wikipedia to more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Through technology we now have a generation who expect everything in real-time and on demand and have little regard for privacy. These are just some of the concepts discussed.
I couldn’t resist David Pogue’s session that followed his keynote, “The Best Mobile Apps.” We saw apps that were fun and useful. Songify will convert plain speech to song. There are travel apps such as JetLagRX that helps you adapt to a new time zone and Flight Track Pro that can tell the status of your flight. There is a speech recognition app (Dragon Dictation) that works great and is free and an app that can be used as a remote presentation slide changer (Keynote Remote). I have always been reluctant to download apps to my phone but when asked about security issues David Pogue said he doesn’t really worry. I just might try some of the apps he recommended.
“Abandoning Law Reports For Official Digital Case Law” described Arkansas’ decision to make the digital court opinions the official in 2009. Professor Peter Martin of Cornell and co-founder of the Cornell’s LII was reassuring when he said that if UELMA were to be enacted in Arkansas the provisions for authentication, preservation and access would already be met. Arkansas has also done away with the idea of published and unpublished decisions. All are “published” now. Arkansas has also adopted its own vendor neutral citation system based on the clerk’s numbering system. Professor Martin discussed the benefits of digital opinions in terms of cost savings, timeliness and access. There were some interesting questions and discussion afterwards. Why is authentication important and can’t we just trust that whatever is available on Westlaw or Lexis is authentic? I think Professor Martin made a good case for authentication, even if it was just to assure the public. There were a number of comments on the difficulty of coming up with a vendor neutral citation system. Another asked, ” Won’t this mean the end of physical space for law libraries?” I was sitting next to him and must have looked horrified. Professor Martin pointed out there are other materials of value such as treatises in a law library other than case law that might still be preferable in print. I was able to mention that AALL had developed a Universal Citation System that might be helpful and that law libraries might have changed the formats of legal information they provide, how they provide it and the space that they need but still provide an essential service in the court.
“Innovations in Serving Self-Help Court Users: Montana and California” consisted of an introduction by Claudia Johnson of LawHelp Interactive, Pro Bono Net, on the development of interactive forms using interviews for document creation with HotDocs and descriptions of different models used for serving self represented litigants. In California, Los Angeles is able to serve large numbers of family self represented litigants through work shops and interactive interview forms and San Bernardino County uses are more of a one-on-one method. However, by partnering with the San Bernardino County Law Library they have been able to have remote broadcasts using library space and technology. Montana, a large state with limited IT resources, has developed kiosks with options of live help or online resources for the user. This program is in partnership with the Montana State Law Library, Montana courthouses and public libraries. It was good to hear that law libraries are considered as important elements in providing court services.
I am afraid that the program, “E-Filing and Web Services in a Nutshell,” was more technical than I expected. However, the need for standardization was stressed as it can reduce costs and streamline sharing among court entities.
The day ended with a reception for the opening of the exhibit hall. I visited just a few vendors this evening. One that provides systems for the video recording of court proceedings and a court management system vendor. Probono.net is exhibiting this year, too. I didn’t see the familiar West and Lexis until the reception was over and that was because they have a much smaller booth at this conference compared to AALL.
The conference is going well but I have to say I am disappointed in the weather. I expected sunny weather but it looks like clouds and rain for the rest of the week.