[Published in the OSALL newsletter of August 2008]
Our listserv continues to be as active as ever and the archives have grown very satisfactorily over the last twenty months. The process has been a learning curve for many of us and the time is now ripe to do a bit of housekeeping and development that will make the communication system more streamlined.
This short column is an appeal to each member of the listserv to modify her/his contact details to make the membership list a useful in-house directory. It will also make administration of the listserv a lot easier in that email addresses are not always indicative of the identity of the person and requests to amend access and rights sometimes result in a bit of a safari.
To modify your details, sign in and go to your individual profile. The email address is the only compulsory field and very few members have made use of the opportunity to display their name. It will be appreciated if you are willing to post a short useful description (eg Mary Bruce, KZN Law Society). We are already a very interactive community and this should also make it easier for us to build individual relationships within the network.
The second suggestion is that we develop some FAQs to assist in the speedy location of (online) information, with the added advantage of reducing the number of repetitive requests going through the system. An example of this relates to the periodic correspondence when one or other of us needs to locate Southern African legislation. Should there be a reliable online repository where one could at least start searching, or even a contact address, please send me the link (***@***)and we will be able to compile a sheet that will fit into the Pages feature (right hand side of the screen). This will allow us each to check whether the information is readily accessible before sending a request to three hundred recipients, many of whom will not be in a position to assist.
And now to a couple of links I’ve found of interest and I hope you and some of ‘your’ attorneys will too.
There’s never been any secrecy around my promotion of Google’s search function and I’ve now been joined, (unconsciously on his part), by David Pogue, Technology Columnist for the New York Times. His column “The mother of all search functions” dated 25 September 2008 starts off with an expansive comment : “Today’s e-column is nothing but a computer tip, but it’s a biggie. It seems obvious in retrospect, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s totally rocked my world : Use Google search for everything. Let me explain”. I’ve enjoyed Pogue’s columns for years and this is one that should be read by anyone who needs to data-mine within particular web resources. It’s an articulate summary of a trend I’ve noticed recently : searchers discovering that Google is a far more efficient search tool than many internal search features offered on some websites. It takes only one search parameter, which has formed a prominent part of the training I’ve given to PLT students and other groups for some years, to focus Google’s full power on one domain. Pogue’s article is accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/25/technology/personaltech/25pogue-email.html.
The second article I found interesting is “E-discovery search : how to get it right” by Eric Sinrod. “E-discovery” in this context is defined at http://legalcareers.about.com/od/glossary/g/Glossary.htm as “the obligation of parties to a lawsuit to exchange documents that exist only in electronic form”. The definition provides examples : “e-mails, voicemails, instant messages, e-calendars, audio files, data on handheld devices, animation, metadata, graphics, photographs, spreadsheets, websites, drawings and other types of digital data”.
Although the information relates to the US model, it makes for interesting reading and the technological solutions may well have local relevance in due course. Sinrod’s article is online at http://technology.findlaw.com/articles/00006/011208.html.
Please make suggestions for topics for future columns. They will be gratefully received.
Opinions expressed in this column are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.