Standards Debate

There has been a lively disucssion of search standards on the EDD Update blog recently.  Atty Eric Mandel, Director of E-Discovery and Litigation Support at Zelle Hofmann in Minnepaolis, first posted about the need for more precise  scientific standards regarding search technology. Herb Roitblatt and Craig Ball both responded with objections based on the fact that the legal process is not scientific in anture and trying to establish perfect technical specifications is pointless. As Craig put it , “that dog won’t hunt.”

It seems to me that the answer lies somewhere between Erics call for standards and the responses by Craig and Herb. As Craig says , there’s no such thing as a perfect process and as Herb says, it’s ALL about the process.  In fact I made that very point right here back in February when I quoted John Martin: it’s the archer not the arrow.

And really that’s the problem to my mind. We get so lost in the technology we forget that we’re not building a space shuttle here .. or a car or even a widget. We’re searching for truth.  Try to publish a standard for that.  OK and even if we’re not looking for truth we’re dealing with a process that is different every time. Different documents, different document types, different operating systems, different users … you get the point.

To push Craigs analogy, you don’t train a dog to hunt by just teachng him to do the same thing over and over. If you’re duck hunting, he has to swim. If you’re racoon hunting he needs to know how to tree. If you’re fox hunting he has to work with other dogs. If you’re bear hunting he has to know how to talk so he can tell you he’s not THAT stupid even if you are.

But I do agree with Eric that we need to have more public debate over these issues. Otherwise the dogs are running the hunt and not the hunters.


1 comment so far

  1. Rob Robinson on


    Great post – unfortunately some of those with “dogs in the hunt” attack any opinion questioning their “approach”. May need to remove the “attacks” before you get the type of responses conducive to objective consideration of standards.

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