What have you done? - That's what Larry Lessig asks when he ends his talks about how intellectual property law is being distorted by people with purely financial interests. For some people those laws should help maximize profit; for others IP laws should first serve a common good. Guess which side has more money? If you want to do something find out who Tara Grubb is. She is the Libertarian Party candidate running against Howard Coble, the congressman who wants to pass a law to let Hollowood hack computers of people it deems to be engaging in improper P2P file sharing.
Just look at Representative Coble (over there on the right). Is this a guy who understands the highly intricate world of technology that he seeks to regulate? Or is he a guy that sees only a world of screen doors and mosquitos? I don't fault him for not understanding the world of Cisco routers and TCP/IP. To him his legislation is just putting a patch on the screen door to stop the mosquitos from coming in. He's limited by his world view, and that's fine. But I don't think it's fine that his world view (embodied in legislation) should limit, or even influence, the Internet or the computers of millions of people around the world who choose to connect to the internet.
Members of Congress have to satisfy residency requirements to run from a given district. Why? Because they need to understand the place that they represent. Increasingly we are all connecting to one another through the Internet, or cyberspace. More and more of us live in cyberspace. How many of these people in Washington who propose these bills to regulate cyberspace spend any significant time there? Do you think if you left Representative Coble alone in a room with a computer that he could track down basic information like a phone number? Maybe he could do that. I don't know. Does he know what Google is? Does Coble know who Tim Berners-Lee is, or why he conceived of the World Wide Web? How many of these politicians understand that hyperlinking and sharing of information was the whole point of the Internet? These are valid questions to be asking someone who wants to regulate that world. Hopefully his voters will ask those questions. And hopefully the answers will matter.
What can we do, those of us who live in the blogosphere? We can support people who share our worldview. I'm not saying that Tara Grubb is worthy of support. That's for you to decide on your own. But if you care about the Internet then use its power to find out about her and if you believe she has a better understanding of the world that you live in then you should support her. Don't criticize what's going on if you don't like it. Criticism is easy. Do something about it.
Techno Heaven is a cool cell phone - I have had a Motorola Timeport, but soon my 2 year contract will run out. I've been contemplating what to buy next, and I have to say that I'm very tempted by the Treo 270. But maybe there is something better, and that got me thinking what is the ideal cellphone would be. Here is my idea of the dream phone:
Looks cool, and has good phone coverage
Combines a PDA with Palm OS
Can access POP3 E-mail
Built in voice recorder (useful to take messages when writing is difficult)
Built in electric shaver & wine opener
Okay, the last one is a stretch, but I was talking about the "ideal" cell phone. In reality, I would settle for the Treo 270 if it were available with CDMA capability and it was offered by Verizon, which is my current wireless provider.
Knowledge Management in Law Firms - here is a good article that appears in LLRX that focuses on comparing KM initiatives in US and U.K. law firms. The author studied several large firms in both countries and his report has many interesting conclusions, among them: US firms are not as good at sharing knowledge or incentivizing the sharing of legal knowledge. I'm sure that Rick will have something to say here, and hopefully Chris Smith can offer some commentary. My take is that, for most firms, the financial incentive to share knowledge is not built into the system and there is no clear upgrade path to get to a point of knowledge sharing.
Later: here's an article that Rick recommended in a similar post today. All of these articles identify the key problem in US law firms as insufficient motivation to share. The firms that learn to use KM to become efficient will eventually come to have a well-recognized advantage in marketing, and in attracting quality lawyers. Young lawyers are the ones who have the most need predictable systems, and who most suffer from the lack of stored knowledge. And yet they are the ones asked to reinvent the wheel most often. Without the blueprints, of course.