January 21, 2010
Two Predictions for This Decade
Greg Lambert offered up some very interesting predictions for 2010 earlier this year. I think he's "on the money" for the first nine and hope number 10 comes true too -- "3 Geeks and a Law Blog Cuts Multi-Million Dollar Deal and We All Retire to a Small Caribbean Island" -- so I can be that uninvited guest who never leaves!
I offer up two longer range predictions because, well, it's safer: (1) no one will remember if I'm wrong and (2) I might be on Greg's Caribbean island or trying to grow medical marijuana in a little plot of land on a plateau in the Colorado Rockies my wife inherited (if she doesn't divorce me before I retire) should the predications be way off the mark. Either way, will it matter?
For what it's worth, if worth anything, here they are:
1. Format neutral citation for primary legal materials will be recognized as the official protocol in the US. I know our very expensive legal publishers will fight to oppose this but it is inevitable. Already sort of exists for USC but will officially exist in all jurisdictions for authenticated, more quickly codified statutes and regulations and across-the-board for official court opinions too. Legal primary materials will be liberated from the printed page and from its specific reference to commerical products.
The world will not end; Canada is already format neutral for court opinions and our friends up north remain peace-loving, rule-of-law recognizing, cite-your-authority practitioners of common law.
2. Tethered text appliances and their equally tethered licensed e-content will be a footnote in the history of technological wrong turns. BookServer already makes MOBI versions of most of the The Internet Archives 1.8 million books so how much longer does Amazon think it will be the exclusive purveyor on Kindled-editions. More importantly, how much longer can it sell its Kindle without making it EPUB-friendly? Until Apple releases a touch-screen web tablet that makes the Kindle look so last decade? We may know as soon as 10 a.m. PT on Jan. 27. Tech insiders expect the Apple to unveil a 10.6" touch-screen Wi-Fi tablet for under $1,000 that's been characterized as a hybrid between an iPhone/ipod touch and a mac. Some are calling it "iSlate." And then, eventually, maybe, Microsoft's Courier, which has a hinged dual 7-inch (or so) touch screens.
Apple gave up on its iPod-only file format and Amazon will too. It's bad for sales. Once the craze is over, this will pass. Never underestimate the profit motive; market forces will overtake the gee-whiz gullibility of consumers infected with early adapter syndrome to acquire a larger consumer base. eReaders may have staying power but only to the extent that they provide access to multiple formats and allow readers to more fully manipulate and share e-contents in an open standard mark-up language. In other words, when they become eReaders-eWriters-eCommunicators (aka web tablets or slates) that are more than single purpose appliances. Text is different than audio or video files. .TXT is the new .MP3.
And hopefully XML will replace PDF in Google Books and other repositories of digital text.
Wait 'n see. [JH]