March 12, 2012
Tradition-Bound Legal Citation Norms: Space and Time and Format (and Pricing) in the 21st Century
Why abbreviations? Because of The Bluebook of course by Harvard et al., not the Kelley Blue Book for car pricing. Why the Bluebook? To standardize citation practices in the legal profession. Why continue this tradition? Hell, if I know!
Use of abbreviations was the solution to a problem that really doesn't exist anymore -- namely saving space and time in paper-based mediums. While the convention may still make sense for case names, does it really make any sense for source publication titles or, for instance, named authors. About the latter, see Temple Law Prof David Hoffman's Don’t use et al. post. Of course, I will still refer to this blog as "LLB" but that's because I am just too damn lazy to do otherwise.
Space and Time and Format. With "search and replace" functions being common, it is pretty damn easy in terms of time savings to replace any truncation with complete information. As for space? In the professional legal literature -- from primary to secondary sources --content is born digital.
Space = memory now. Long ago Bill Gates issued a self-fulfilling prophecy by proclaiming that "memory is cheap," When he said that, memory was NOT cheap. However internal processing memory for desktops (and later hard drive storage memory) become inexpensive because it was required to upgrade to Windows 95. Increased demand brings down pricing.
And Pricing. OK, so some readers are probably thinking that while legal source files are "born digital", production operations split them out in print. Just how long do you think our major vendors are going to continue doing this? Once their sales catalogs are fully populated with enhanced law eBooks, it won't be long before our major vendors go to a print-on-demand model. Then decreased demand for the print format will increase pricing for print. Hell, in the Shed West Era, this is already evident. [JH]