Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Paper is a Drag"

Please read Bob Berring's article in the recent issue of The Green Bag. In it he raises some critical issues that are facing the world of legal information. As governments of all stripes, municipal, state, county, federal, make the "inevitable" switch from print to online publication of their laws, we're finding that the law is getting lost; the old law, that is. Obviously, the governments are concerned with publishing their current laws and regulations, but they are not doing a good job of preserving old versions, and history is disappearing into the vapor.

The interesting issue in all this is that there is a very simple solution to this disappearing law: print it as the version of record, and allow the web version to serve as prima facia evidence of what the current version of the laws are.

Let's face it. The web is ephemera. Did anyone really envision it as a substitute for hard, cold reality? The web is the web, and it will never be anchored in a way that is as permanent and reliable of a record of the past as a printed version of the laws. The simple statement that "paper is a drag" (whatever that means) is not enough of a reason to ditch print forever. Particularly when the stakes are too high.