What Do You Think About The Net?
A 'Lectric Law Library FAQ
The material below was written long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, so much of it may no longer be valid... though hell if we know. We're keeping it here intact mostly as a curiosity... and also because we can't figure out how to revise it since we have no idea what, if anything, we think about the current state of the internet. Duh...
Ah ha, this is where we get to wax philosophical. But just a couple of points for now...
1. After many (and we mean many) hours of net-surfing the basic conclusion we came to about much of the net (and we apologize to the numerous exceptions out there) is that it's run by the functional equivalent of idiot savants.
What we mean is that we are awestruck by the fact that they have built a system that actually seems to work most of time. As far as we're concerned they are magicians able to do the impossible on the technical level. However, when it comes to the real world... Well, do they know there IS a real world?
The fact is that most people have slow, stupid modems and computers - not pentiums or mainframes with high-speed network connections. And, unsupported by corporate largess or taxpayer money, they're not going to get such things soon. And they don't like to wait 10 minutes for stunning graphics to download or spend a day trying to figure out Project Herme's indexing system. (Maybe we'll address the elitist implications of this in the future.)
If you explore the Library you'll notice that it won't win any graphic design prizes. In fact, compared to some sites its plain, if not downright homely. But our graphics don't take all day to download. And hopefully we're not boring - at least for a law site.
2. We're all for the private-sector getting involved with the net, and hopefully making money at it. But we also believe the net's primary purpose (in the field we're involved in) is to provide people with genuine content-based services - not to sucker people into your site by advertising something useful and then having nothing but a 100k picture of your firm's partners and a bunch of solicitations for clients. Or to publicly promote a great sounding site that turns out to be a couple of ads and lots of 'under construction' signs.
We consider this type of behaviour not only unethical, but - like the computer industry's 'vapor-ware' - not much less than actionable consumer fraud. And we find it a lot more objectionable than net porno or bomb-making manuals. (Besides, who the hell would retain a lawyer who sponsors such a thing?)
Sure, we just got started so we have lots of 'coming soons' in the Library, and probably always will have. But we don't do any outside promotion for something that we don't have already available.
And, unlike many other sites, we don't promise content but have nothing but 18,000,942 links to every thing between here and Jupiter that vaguely sounds like a law resource. (And have you noticed how many commercial 'law sites', 'libraries' and 'malls' seem to be nothing but links to someplace else -- which, in-turn, is another collection of links -- all eventually ending up at some taxpayer supported ftp site?)
But enough of this venting of spleen - I'm starting to sound like Ralf....
[Again, excuse the negativity, but if we didn't see things that we want to improve on, there'd be no reason for this site. However, we promise to put in some of the good things we see about the net in future revisions.] -- 5/31/95
9/25/95 -- We're pleased to say that since penning the above it appears to us that there's been a noticable positive change in, or at least an awareness of, many of the things we bitched about. And while we'd like to take full credit, we have to admit that at least 10% is probably due to factors other than our persuasive prose.