Information Roundup – February 10, 2008

A lazy February weekend. So lazy, in fact, that I’ve pledged to start running again. I used to be quite serious about running, but when Seanna blew by me with a pat on the bum going up the final hill at the 2004 Around the Bay Road Race, my broken ego caused me to pack the running shoes in for good. Full-on cold turkey. But what better way to motivate me to get back into it than to communicate my pledge to the whole web!!!

Here’s what’s caught my interest in the last couple of weeks.

  • Craig Ball, Gazing into the EDD Crystal Ball. Seventeen e-discovery predictions by a leading commentator. I’m most intrigued by, “Key-based encryption demarks and encapsulates privileged communications.” (
  • Karim Faheem, Student Dispute Threatens Montclair State’s Paper. News story on an interesting governance and free press dispute at a U.S. college. Follow-up story here. (New York Times)
  • Mary-Rose Papandrea, Students shown drinking on Facebook banned from school activities. A blog post on a recent Minnesota case with one significant twist: the students signed a pledge not to drink as a condition of playing sports. (Citizen Media Law Project/Berkman Center for Internet & Society)
  • George Binks, The Big Log Off: Where do computer files go when you die? Seanna has a subscription to the Walrus. At the risk of offending millions and revealing myself a philistine, I catch myself remarking to her how “exciting” it is each month it arrives. This article caught my attention though, and the Walrus’s website tends to bring the content to life nicely. (The Walrus)
  • Pamela Pengelley, Confidentiality and Disclosure in Mediation: When the Chicken Won’t Talk. A good discussion of Rudd v. Trossacs Investments Inc. With humour! (The Advocate’s Quarterly, December 2007 Supplement)

The Advocate’s Quarterly supplement also has a great “Evidence Cheat Sheet” by Mr. Justice Paul Perell, basically a tabular display of all the relevant evidence rules and their exceptions. It’s a great concept, and got me thinking about information design – which Wikipedia says is “the art and science of preparing information so that it can be used by human beings with efficiency and effectiveness.” By using a simple meta-structure (the table), Perell J. communicates the rules of evidence in a form that would be usable in a hearing.

Synthesis and simplification are such an important part of advocacy, but more and more matters are so grossly complex that simplification and synthesis are limited techniques. Efficient communication by use of graphics holds a lot of potential for a profession that has traditionally relied on expert skill in communicating by the written and spoken word. There lies the limit though. If you look at some of the best things people are doing in information design, it really takes an artist’s eye. Maybe there’s a niche for trained lawyers with graphic design skills?

I’m interested, but don’t have the skill to produce more than a good table or flow chart. For those who want to learn more, Edward Tufte is an information design guru and just published a new book. Locally, my former business partners James Chisholm and Greg Warman at Experiencepoint (a business simulation company) are true pros. In law, I’ve heard Eugene Meehan of Lang Michener’s Supreme Court Practice group speak on the use of graphics in advocacy – he gives an inspiring presentation. I’ve also recently listened to a podcast by Professor Richard Sherwin of the New York Law School.


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