A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

Last week, I went to the second e-discovery conference held in Victoria, London and heard an interesting speech (no slides presentation) by Master Whitaker, Senior Master, Queen’s Bench Division. Master Whitaker shared his thoughts and insights on edisclosure which was probably the highlight or spotlight of the conference. Most of the presentations held over the two days were uninspiring and there was even a presentation on the credit crisis. Do I need to be reminded of the credit crisis on an ediscovery conference? I dozed off to sleep during the credit crisis presentation…just not interested to hear yet more blah blah blah.

However, Master Whitaker’s concluding remark resounded or rekindled the credit crisis blah blah blah…
I heard Master Whitaker’s remark towards the end of his speech that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing when it comes to edisclosure.

Mmm…a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, however no knowledge whatsoever creates mass tort as shown by the credit crisis that has swept across from the US to Europe. So credit crisis blah blah blah and ediscovery/disclosure has a common theme or rather a common myth.
When it comes to e-discovery/disclosure, most of the time we are dealing with no knowledge in that no one really and truly knows where the hack a piece of e-document or evidence is located. If we do, then why all the fuss over the need to have such and such policy in place and for keyword search, concept search and other guessing tools?!

Long time ago when I first started work in finance/banking I heard a remark that ‘money is not just on paper transaction but on digital transaction’. It was a difficult concept for me to grasp as I just couldn’t find a ‘tangible’ handle to tie paper (stuff from trees) to digital (stuff of zeros and ones). One thing I did grasp was that digital money is not tangible and not traceable unless the person handling the digital money is tangible or traceable. In all digital transactions which generally involve more than one party, we never really know all the parties involved except we know them as digital accounts. So we have a little knowledge in that we have digital money and digital accounts (and other stuff which we really don’t want to know as we really don’t know – like who owes who and who else owes who etc..in the digital chain of e-money). We have no knowledge of what happens in between the digital money being transformed into paper money and vice versa. Is the little knowledge dangerous? Is the credit crisis dangerous?
Perhaps dangerous in that it has created a global crisis and not dangerous in that it has started a new industry, the ‘credit crisis industry’.

Master Whitaker’s remark was indeed refreshing and relevant in edisclosure. There are still far too many legal practitioners (except perhaps the large law firms in the UK) with little or no knowledge on edisclosure or ESI and many judges that have no knowledge on edisclosure or ESI.
So we are still in dangerous territories when it comes to edisclosure.

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