Show me more like this

Guidance Software’s new EnCase Portable is interesting enough for itself. The way in which they are promoting it is even more so. The industry as a whole could make use of YouTube’s ability to point users to related material.

I happened to be with Guidance Software on the day that they announced EnCase Portable the new pocket-sized version of their forensic collection application EnCase, at a meeting of their Strategic Advisory Board at CEIC in Orlando in May. We were given a preview of the extremely neat kit — one USB drive containing EnCase and another to hold the data. The ability to put a forensic collection of data into your pocket looks like a proposition which should sell itself.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had written an article called the Untapped potential of YouTube as a promotional medium . The immediate context was the launch that week of a song called What Really Matters to Me by The Phoenix Fall, whose drummer is my son Charlie (it did very well, thank you for asking, and the second one is due out soon). The more important theme of my article, however, was that YouTube offered an instantly accessible promotional vehicle which went far beyond music videos. I raised, but quickly dismissed, the idea that Sir Rupert Jackson might launch his Preliminary Report (which was due out the next day) via a YouTube broadcast, but omitted to mention that Senior Master Whitaker once did a brief YouTube video about e-disclosure.

Guidance already had material on YouTube, so they did not get the idea from me. You can also find walk-throughs put up by other people — I have no idea whether the company approves of this, so I will not give you links to them, but I watched one this morning which could serve as a model for any software company who wanted a cheap and efficient way of showing people what its software can do.

I wrote about this broad subject again this week in a post (Web demos allow interest without commitment) which commended a webinar given by Anacomp about CaseLogistix. My main theme there was that the people we need to reach are not those already committed but those who felt that they ought to know something about electronic disclosure. I suggested that there was a problem here – the salesman’s reasonable wish to capture names and phone numbers conflicts with the need of an interested but uncommitted user to get just a feel for a subject or product. I am not the only one, I think, who passes up all kinds of opportunities to find out about things because I dislike having my contact details added to databases – I get enough nuisance calls as it is.

YouTube brings none of that baggage. The videos are easily found, you can tell in seconds if one interests you, and it offers you a selection of related videos in much the same way as the BBC News website points to related stories. This example, in fact offers me two hits for the price of one – the ability of applications like YouTube and news websites to offer you a “show me more like this” option is not simply the marketing point which brings me into this subject. The BBC’s “Related links” facility has parallels in  some of the more sophisticated litigation software, and it is not surprising to learn that it is powered by Autonomy, who bring the same intelligent cross-referencing to a wide range of data.

Amongst the points made in my main article on YouTube’s untapped marketing potential, was that “glossy” has come to be associated with “insubstantial”, and that we are much readier than we were in the ’90s to accept a more rough and ready approach, particularly if the trade-off is cheapness and speed. Music production offers perhaps the best example of this, with wide, instant audiences being found for music recorded and produced in bedrooms and garages and publicised with home-made videos. There is still room for the big expensive productions, but the raw spontaneity of the home-made variety means that “cheap” no longer necessarily connotes “…and nasty”.

All this serves as introduction to what set me off writing this piece. Amongst the other videos produced by or about Guidance Software – the talking heads, the screenshot demos etc – I came across one which introduces Encase Portable. There are no glossy locations here, no directors shouting “action” and no expensive postproduction. A chap who appears to know what he is talking about sits at his desk and, in just over two minutes, tells us what EnCase Portable does, shows us the components and runs quickly through the process.

I am thinking on my feet here (many of my articles have endings which were not planned at the outset), but just suppose that a number of players in the e-discovery / e-disclosure field were to put up videos with snippets illustrating what they do. I am not positing any co-operation here, but a series of individual actions. Constrained by time, and by the immediacy of the medium, suppliers would field their best people to show the parts of their applications which were most likely to make the viewers pay attention – concept search, e-mail threads, near-duplicates or whatever – (“like having Clapton, Harrison and Hendrix come on in turn and give you just their best riffs” as I said of a recent quickfire demonstration by FTI Technology, Epiq Systems and Autonomy to Lord Justice Jackson). They would be connected by keywords and whatever else YouTube uses to generate its recommendations. Judge Facciola and Senior Master Whitaker could deliver pithy judicial comment, and people like me would talk it up.

We could put up the mock case management conference which I wrote for the IQPC London conference. Lawyers might join in, keen to promote their firms’ litigation expertise. Richard Susskind could appear predicting the End of Lawyers if we do not find new ways of offering our skills and services to the market – “We’re all doomed, doomed I tell ye” as his compatriot Scot, Private Fraser would say (that is an unduly succinct and not wholly accurate précis of Richard’s thesis and, furthermore, one which only the English, brought up on episodes of Dad’s Army, will understand, but it suits the televisual theme).

At minimal cost, the industry would have an online visual resource which would lead users through every aspect of the problems, the processes, the software and services, with no overall control or liaison except YouTube’s built in cross-linking mechanisms.It could actually happen. It could blow the doors down. Who will go next?

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Autonomy, CaseLogistix, CEIC, Discovery, E-Discovery Suppliers, eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure, FTI Technology, Guidance Software, IQPC, Legal Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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