I Hate That We’re Still Talking About Pages

That was my first thought when I saw a link to the ESI Calculator. Why are we still comparing GB’s of data to how many printed pages it equals. It’s irrelevant, and seriously, look at the totals on that page. You are not printing any of that, how many pages it is has nothing to do with anything!

Alas, I also live in the real world. The world where too many people see a disk, and wonder why one little disk has so much information, or why that disk (a DVD) has so much more than that other disk (a CD). Or what a 20GB collection means compared to an 80GB drive. This little tool might make people “see” the difference in their own terms, even if printing isn’t something you’d ever really do.

Of course, it will also be a nice tool to point those people who think they really do want to just print everything to as well. 😉

Still, I can’t help but despise the fact that we’re even talking about electronic data as if it was something different. It’s data, not pages. Learn the difference, or maybe dealing with electronic discovery isn’t for you.

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  1. In my view, it’s often easier to estimate the length of time necessary to perform a privilege/responsiveness review when speaking in terms of documents or pages than GBs or TBs. So, to me at least, pages remain quite relevant.

  2. I get that, and it makes sense, but here’s the problem with that. As more and more of the data you need to review exists in databases, or web 2.0 interfaces, the idea of “pages” becomes somewhat pointless. Anything other than email or word processing documents don’t really have pages. Right now, those are the bulk of the documents you’d review, but they aren’t everything and once you get into something like an Access or Oracle db, a Twitter/Facebook stream, or audio and video, this metaphor of the printed page starts to really fall down. Once it does, all those attorney’s who only visualize ediscovery through that metaphor are going to have a hard time comprehending what they have. To use your example, how do you estimate the time length of a review that includes running searches against databases, or carefully listening to audio/video files? It’s a different ballgame as the technology people use changes.

    We’re moving toward a point where you can’t accurately give a “number of pages” comparison for much of the data that may be relevant to litigation, what do we do then to describe the scope of a review?

  3. paper model is still relavent and has to be taken into account when you are trying to make an attorney understand what they’re dealing with. Certainly, partners schooled in the world of boxes, post-it’s, and binders still expect to work in that manner to some degree. And it helps to get them absorb the facts when you describe things like possibly “thousands of banker’s boxes”. Information that could be used in talks regarding settlement and meet/confers.

    If you work in the field, especially at a lawfirm, you need to be able to move between the worlds. Getting agitated about it is really nothing more than myopic and masochistic.

    1. Bob, I agree you need to be able to walk between worlds, and translate for those folks, but really, isn’t expecting to still work in the “boxes, post-its and binders” world a sure sign that maybe it’s getting close to the time where you need to do something else for a living? When I can store 3TB of data on an external drive that costs $250, trying to deal with discovery using those tools is a bit like painting the Empire State building with an ink pen. 😉

  4. Bravo, Mike! Page equivalencies are fanciful. So, why rely on calculators? Instead, just tell lawyers that the data volume equals enough pages to circle the globe six times. Just as accurate, but more entertaining.

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