ILTA 2011 is slowly coming to life downstairs, but the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is so large that I am getting my information about it from tweets rather than from my own observation – there could be a London-style riot going on at the other end of this complex and you would not know it. I will put up some photographs in due course, though you really need the wide-angle lens which I left at home to get any impression of this place.
I’m not convinced that I could accurately have pointed to Nashville on a map before planning this journey and, indeed, since I don’t plan my journeys any more (my blessed wife does it for me) the journey just involved following instructions. BA gave me what they call an “involuntary upgrade”, with that curious implication that one might decline the opportunity to sleep horizontally, be offered food which is actually edible, and have access to a power outlet. Changing terminals at JFK was a doddle thanks to the inter-terminal train, and it is worth recording (because one often hears differently) that the airline and security staff were welcoming and helpful, with apparently spontaneous smiles and offers of help if one looked at all uncertain.
On the small plane from JFK to Nashville I came across Charles Christian of the Orange Rag, the Legal Technology Insider and the American Legal Technology Insider, Rob Lancashire of digital dictation company BigHand, and legal technology writer Joanna Goodman. Charles introduced me to Rob Lancashire as “an expert on digital dictation” which is rather like introducing an occasional car driver to a Formula 1 engineer as an “expert on cars”. I am merely a user, whereas Rob Lancashire is BigHand’s managing director for UK legal and professional services.
While we are on the subject, however, and for those of you interested in the mechanics of getting words out of your head and into publishable form (that is, or ought to be, all lawyers and any bloggers), my life has been transformed by two recent acquisitions – version 11.5 of Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking and a wireless headset by Plantronics. The latter allows me to pace around my room talking whilst the the former simply rolls the words up the screen as I speak them, with a deeply impressive level of accuracy. It is not really my business to promote BigHand, but I will do it anyway: the same principles apply here as with eDiscovery / eDisclosure – it is downright stupid not to keep up with technology developments which allow you to do things better and/or faster. Those of you who follow what I write may perhaps have mixed views on the increased rate of production which results from my own technology upgrade, but it is a good advertisement for voice recognition as a tool.
We ate last night in the Irish Pub, one of several food and drink outlets here – they may just be boxes carved out of this vast warehouse, but the Irish Pub, at least, felt like exactly what its name suggested. A two-man band, apparently from Leicester, did excellent covers of familiar songs and the food was really good, if more substantial than any human could reasonably require.
What are the priorities for me here? Outside in the eDiscovery / eDisclosure world, discussion still flies around about HP’s acquisition of Autonomy. There is a long list of product announcements to be made here at ILTA, some of which look interesting. The UK air-waves are still full of interesting debate on the riots – not just their causes and the tiresome spectacle of politicians and policemen each blaming the other whilst busily marketing their own brands with knee-jerk comment, but the questions about budgets, courts and sentencing. I could sit here writing about any or all of this, but the main value of travelling all this way is to see people, so I will let most of the argument pass me by.
As I have said in a previous article, I have some specific things to do here – as a panel member with Thomson Reuters on Tuesday afternoon and as moderator of a video with Digital Reef. I will have a look, if they have time to show me, at the new releases of those companies who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project or who might do so, and avoid, as elegantly and politely as I can, those who want to show me anything else. I walked a few days ago down a lane in Singapore where representatives of every café and restaurant step out and thrust their menus in your face as you walk past. The experience at these events can be somewhat similar. The real value to me of coming here is the impromptu discussions with the people whose products and views will help move us on a notch or two, and there are plenty of them at ILTA.
Charles Christian promises us a story this evening which will “spread fear, uncertainty and doubt among at least three of the major players in the legal IT world”. Charles is, if anything, even more jaundiced than I am about the fevered excitement which accompanies these things, so I suppose I ought to keep an ear out, whilst slipping into a drawer a scrap of paper with one word on it which will, I suspect, feature in the announcement.