Friday, December 2, 2011

The Legality of Privacy Settings

Social networking has become an integral component of running a business these days. With websites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, companies can keep "followers" up to date with their news and advertisements and use this as a marketing tool to draw in more clients or consumers. With the ever growing popularity of Facebook and ongoing updates that CEO and president Mark Zuckerberg makes to his website, the importance of privacy for a user's information becomes more and more necessary.

Facebook has always concentrated on providing people with control over their social experience so they can express themselves freely while depending on that their personal information is being shared in the way they anticipated. However the road of privacy legally has not always gone the way they intended, with numerous accusations of dishonesty regarding their policy. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission), in an eight-count complaint, alleged that Facebook has not kept its promises.

One complaint issued by the FTC stated that Facebook claimed participating applications used a "Verified Apps" program which certified their security. Facebook then canceled Verified Apps in December of 2009 when word of this surfaced. After coming to a preliminary settlement with the FTC over what were classified as deceptive practices, Mark Zuckerberg has promised to recommit to and continuously update the Facebook privacy policy. This new policy ensures that Facebook will keep its promises about privacy to its 800+ million active users. Another precautionary measure Facebook is putting into affect is the implementation of a biennial independent audit of Facebook privacy policy practices to guarantee that its holding up to the FTC commitments.

“Today's announcement formalizes our commitment to providing you with control over your privacy and sharing -- and it also provides protection to ensure that your information is only shared in the way you intend,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post. “As the founder and CEO of Facebook, I look forward to working with the commission as we implement this agreement.” “In addition to these product changes, the FTC also recommended improvements to our internal processes,”. “We've embraced these ideas, too, by agreeing to improve and formalize the way we do privacy review as part of our ongoing product development process.”

Hopefully these new arrangements with additional privacy controls will make Facebook more appealing to those who may view the titan networking site as "creepy". This will also allow companies to be more comfortable with the content they share as well and not allowing private information to get into the wrong hands. Here at WIN Interactive we use these social networking accounts regularly, and it would be vastly counterproductive for business if we couldn't rely on these marketing tools as a means of growth and expansion in modern times.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Conrad Murray Gets Michael Skakel'ed

In a relatively unsurprising turn of events, Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (which carries a possible sentence of four years in prison) on Monday, November 7, 2011. His sentencing hearing is scheduled to be carried out on Tuesday, November 29, 2011.

Nonetheless, over the weeks as I read about the case via news coverage, I found certain developments at trial quite interesting from a legal point of view. While some might argue that the prosecution had an easy case considering that Dr. Murray caused the death of one of the most popular musicians to ever live, one need only reference the Casey Anthony trial to know how hard a prosecutor's job can be if the dots are not connected properly. (Of course, it didn't make the prosecution's job any harder when the defense's star expert witness was found in contempt of court and fined $250! (Check out this article for an amusing tale about the importance of prepping your witnesses before putting them on the stand).

As an attorney with an expertise in visual communication strategy, the most interesting fact I learned about the Dr. Murray trial was the technique employed by the prosecution during closing arguments. Apparently, the lead prosecutor "displayed a large picture of Jackson's gaunt, lifeless body on a hospital gurney and played the sound of his drugged, slurred voice, as recorded by Murray just weeks before the singer's death." The writer of the article accurately described this as "the most shocking moment… ."

There are three schools of thought on this kind of closing argument. There are those that would object vehemently against what the prosecutor did in the Conrad Murray trial. There are those that would applaud him for merely marshaling his evidence in a persuasive way, and finally, there are those that would weigh such use on a case by case basis. I happen to fall under that last category of person. There are times when using visuals is perfectly acceptable when making a pointed and strategic argument. Then there are times when the use of visuals can elicit potentially prejudicial confusion among jurors.

In the case of Conrad Murray, had I been the defense attorney, I would have objected to the prosecutor juxtaposing an image of Jackson's autopsy with his slurred words spoken when he was alive. The question I would have asked is, "What does Jackson's autopsy photo have to do with his slurred speech from a phone conversation weeks before his death?" The prosecution is mixing timeframes and preying on the sympathies of the jury to illicit an emotional response from them as they make their decision. Simply putting up a picture of Jackson with words he spoke could confuse a jury into thinking that these were Jackson's dying words and the fact that he was talking to Dr. Murray could not-so-subtly link him directly to Jackson's death by insinuating Murray's immediate presence at the exact time of death, which was a point in dispute at trial. Do lawyers all over the country employ a strategy of enraging jurors all the time? Yes, but they aren't supposed to do that unless there is some kind of good faith argument being made.

Nonetheless, with the proper narrative, I would guess that the argument here is that perhaps Dr. Murray should have understood that this kind of speech and behavior weeks before could ultimately lead to Jackson's death if he was not treated properly. In that case, the audio is used as a foreshadowing of Jackson's death that Dr. Murray should have seen coming. The visual becomes kind of a date-less timeline of the story of Jackson's death and rather than understanding them as simultaneous pieces of evidence, they are viewed as one leading to the other over time.

Even though this strategy received some publicity in Dr. Murray's trial, it is not a new one. In 2001, Brian Carney, Esq. (President of WIN Interactive), employed a similar strategy against another famous "Michael" in the State v. Skakel trial in Connecticut. In that trial Michael Skakel was convicted of the death of Martha Moxley that had occurred twenty-seven years prior. Working with State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict, Mr. Carney put together a closing argument that placed images of the murdered Martha Moxley next to transcribed audio clips of Michael Skakel speaking about the days surrounding her murder. The argument that the prosecutor made in his narrative was that at certain times during Skakel's recounting of the events, he was referencing different moments of Moxley's life. At one point a nice image of Moxley appeared showing a pretty girl when Skakel mentioned her while she was still alive.

Then, when Skakel voiced alarm when asked about Moxley's whereabouts, the image of Moxley changed to that of her body at the murder scene. While, at first, this may seem like the prosecution is inserting meaning into something that may not have been intended, the prosecution was making an argument. The audio was already in evidence and therefore useable in closing. The photos were in evidence and also useable in closing. The prosecution then used them in a way to make the argument that Skakel knew what happened to Moxley and that he was thinking of her at different times during his statements. The argument was about Skakel's knowledge of guilt.

If you are reading the above and still feel uneasy about the legal ramifications of such tactics, you would not be alone. The Skakel case raised this issue in particular on appeal. The Supreme Court of Connecticut said, “By juxtaposing the photographs of the victim with the defendant’s statements, the state’s attorney sought to convey to the jury in graphic form what the State believed was the real reason for the defendant’s panic, that is, that he had killed the victim.” State v. Skakel, SC 16844 (2006). The court supported the use of visuals in this way because attorneys have the right to take evidence, arrange that evidence, and then argue in good faith from that evidence what he/she believes is the story of the case.

In another case cited in the Skakel appeal, the Supreme Court of Connecticut also explained an attorney's rights when making closing arguments when it said, "[C]ounsel is entitled to considerable leeway in deciding how best to highlight or to underscore the facts, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, for which there is adequate support in the record. We therefore never have categorically barred counsel’s use of such rhetorical devices, be they linguistic or in the form of visual aids, as long as there is no reasonable likelihood that the particular device employed will confuse the jury or otherwise prejudice the opposing party. Indeed, to our knowledge, no court has erected a per se bar to the use of visual aids by counsel during closing arguments. On the contrary, the use of such aids is a matter entrusted to the sound discretion of the trial court.’’ State v. Ancona, 270 Conn. 598 (2004).

Attorneys have a great amount of discretion during closing arguments, however, that does not mean one cannot object when they allegedly overstep those bounds. The key is knowledge about what is acceptable and what isn't. Many attorneys do not know what to do when faced with this kind of visual communication strategy. It is that lack of knowledge that can often turn the tables on even well-seasoned attorneys.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Every Breath You Take

I took a ride in the Massachusetts State police helicopter once while working on a case in the District Attorney's office. It was an amazing experience. Also, it was the first time I had ever witnessed the use of GPS technology which tracked every movement of where we were in relationship to the geography below us. As a former prosecutor, I am generally in favor of technology giving law enforcement as much of an advantage as possible when it comes to fighting crime. As a parent, however, my law enforcement leanings give way a bit to concerns about Big Brother and what information should be available electronically to the entire world.

Some things seem obvious. Technology can be very useful (and sometimes critical in), helping us to enjoy life, save time, and save money. For example, social media sites are excellent tools to connect with friends with whom one has lost touch (and possibly with whom one never would have been able to reconnect but for the internet). Yet, technology can be very invasive. For example, placing every detail of one's life (personal information, specific lists of "friends," favorite websites, buying patterns, likes and dislikes, etc.) into an electronic database, seems to be a bit foolish.

But Americans are peculiar. At times, we are willing to surrender our freedoms apparently without much of a thought about the privacy implications. And simultaneously, we are quite critical of the use of technology to prevent crime.

So where is the line between helpful technology and intrusion into one's privacy. Are we really headed toward a "Majority Report" world where smart technology not only knows where we are, but precisely how to manipulate our behavior based on a data set of our intimate (psychological) preferences.

Is there a general right of privacy in the things we do in the public square (or on the highway)? Can the police track a suspect or a person of interest by using a GPS tracking device attached to a person's vehicle? The Ohio Court of Appeals, in a recent opinion (State v. Sullivan), addressed this issue.

The Court held that there were constitutional concerns, specifically Fourth Amendment implications:
When a person parks his car on a public way, he does not thereby give up all expectations of privacy in his vehicle. There is no way to lock a door or place the car under a protective cloak as a signal to the police that one considers the car private. Checking vehicle identification numbers, taking paint scrapings or observing objects in plain view of the car are minimal and momentary intrusions which can be distinguished from the installation of the GPS tracking device. . . . We are unwilling to hold that every citizen runs the risk that the government will plant a GPS tracking device in his car in order to track his movements, merely because he drives his car in areas accessible to the public. A citizen has a right to expect that when she drives her car into the street the police or anyone else will not attach a GPS tracking device to her car in order to track her without first obtaining a warrant authorizing the placement of the tracking device.

While I admit, I think it disturbing to allow the government to track one's movements without restriction. At the same time, I am concerned with hindering legitimate law enforcement investigative tools which will make us less safe as a society. As technology improves at the exponential rate which it does, the ability to harmonize these two interests is going to become more and more difficult.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Accident Reconstruction Software

As a 3D animator for a litigation and consulting firm, my perspective on presentations of legal evidence has changed greatly. When considering the amount of detail that undoubtedly has to go into each and every area of a case in order to create an admissible presentation, I find it quite perplexing when I hear about methods of creating these accident/scene recreations by cutting corners.

One example found here: shows how a pre-scripted computer program collects data entered by a user and can recreate an accident that has already happened. My interpretation is that these types of software programs leave out a lot of details. This immediately sets off giant flashing red lights in my head in terms of the accuracy of an incident because of the possibilities of there being other factors that the program may not be accounting for. Especially when they are using 3D cars in 2D space, it can lack necessary environmental detail.

For instance, what about visual obstructions such as signs or other objects on the sides of roads or when coming around a turn? How about weather changes such as rain, wind, or glare that cause the driver to not be able to see as easily or react as quickly.

My inclination is that this software cannot completely take over for a human animator when there are just way too many other things to consider. In order for there to be a fair and accurate representation of a reconstruction, all the relevant information needs to be included. There are just some aspects to a case that cannot possibly be figured out without actually drawing the scenarios out by hand (or computer). In my opinion, an animator will always be necessary to ensure complete accuracy.

Check out an example of what appears to be a combination accident reconstruction software program that incorporates human modeling and design.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gamers vs. Scientists

Finally! Validation that all my years spent as a youth inside playing video games rather than taking in the fresh air and sunshine was actually a good decision. Apparently, gamers have done what scientists could not. They deciphered the structure of an AIDS-like virus by "playing" with the virus in 3-D space using a program called "Foldit" created by the University of Washington.

The Foldit software was created as a game for the purpose of having gamers compete against one another to finish puzzles. The puzzles in this case were chains o
f amino acids that needed - you guessed it - unfolding. When not "unfolded," amino acids and viruses look like blobs of spaghetti in a 2-D space. It's hard to see what's really going on and for scientists to develop cures, they need to know the structure of the virus.

According to Seth Cooper, one of Foldit's creators, the decision to let gamers take a crack at the virus was based on the idea that humans have intuitive spatial relationship skills that computers don't yet have. The result was a perfect balance of computer generated images that made seeing a microscopic object possible to the naked eye and human ingenuity that thought around the process.

This is just one example of how 3D space combined with human perception can yield incredible results. The same goes for the courtroom. Science and math are wonderful, but not everyone understands it. That's why there are years of schooling and often massive student debt required to get a piece of paper that says a person understands those subjects. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean lay people should abandon hope of understanding tough scientific concepts and ideas. The gamers that figured out the AIDS-like virus structure were not scientists, but yet by observing the virus visually in 3D space, they came up with a well-reasoned conclusion.

The same could be said for judges and juries. When faced with complex verbal explanations of complex ideas, jurors may often feel lost. They must then make decisions together based on separate, perhaps inaccurate, understandings of a subject. However, if those same jurors hear a step-by-step explanation accompanied by a 3D animation or a 2D visual, they will take away more from the information than they would left on their own. The added benefit is that all of the jurors see the same visual, so they can then discuss the issues from the same starting point. Without the groundwork or base of a visual, each juror must then come up with their own idea of how to visualize the subject matter in their minds resulting in different pictures. A lawyer's goal should be to get all of the decision-makers in a room on the same page by visualizing an argument or an explanation. When someone can see what you see, you're already closer to your goal of understanding. Just as gamers saw a problem visually in 3D and then figured out how to solve it even without fully understanding the science, so can jurors and judges understand complex ideas when presented with accompanying visuals.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Projection In The Courtroom

A new evolution for home theater has recently come about in the last few years since an increasing amount of 3D movies and are now available. Welcome, the 3D projector. 3D Projectors originally hit the market in 2008 mainly for educational purposes with a maximum high resolution of 720p. Then, in 2010 that changed with the first release of a 1080p model by LG. This meant that it could process signals from 3D-ready Blu-rays, Playstation 3, and could also handle multiple 3D formats. Some projectors can now even convert 2D content to 3D.

Unfortunately, these 3D projectors still require 3D glasses that must be worn in order to see a three-dimensional image. Remember the old red and blue style glasses? Well, those were the most basic way to achieve seeing this 3D effect, but also the poorest way for viewing 3D material. More modern glasses for the latest 3D technology use a different method through polarizing lenses (passive glasses) that filter the projector's light to each eye. The result is a very convincing 3D effect.

3D projectors achieve this effect by using active shutter glasses. This is a standard that will stay true for all future DLP 3D projectors. With these, the screen rapidly alternates between scenes intended for each eye while the glasses open and close the corresponding lenses. The only downside to this is that it causes a dimming effect on the image quality and the colors aren't as rich as they would be with watching content in standard 2D high definition.

As valuable as it is to use 3D projectors for educational purposes in classrooms, it would be just as valuable for educating a judge and jury in a courtroom (admissibility issues aside). Imagine a scenario where a crime or car accident happens. Immersing the viewers into the scene so that they have a much better sense of what is going on and what it almost feels like to be there would spark different thoughts than by just watching a standard 2D presentation. How would things change if 3D projectors that did not require glasses were available? Would that remove the feeling of viewing something through a frame? Perhaps it would enable the judge and jury to feel as if the incident is happening right in front of them?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who Failed The Jury?

Although not so long ago, it seems like old news that a jury acquitted Casey Anthony of murdering her daughter. For what seemed like 15 min. of fame after the verdict was handed down, everyone in the legal community had an opinion about what happened.

Some thought that our justice system prevailed because she was in fact innocent, others thought that the justice system prevailed because regardless of guilt or innocence, the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" was not met by the prosecution. Yet others felt that regardless of technicalities, the jurors should have acted on what they felt and what the jurors felt was guilt. Guilt for acquitting Casey Anthony because of the guilt they felt emanating from Casey Anthony. The problem was that they could not hang that guilt on a nail of reason.

In an interview one of the jurors said, "I did not say she was innocent . . . I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be." The same juror also said, "It was because we were sick to our stomach to get that verdict. We were crying, and not just the women. It was emotional and we weren't ready. We wanted to do it with integrity and not contribute to the sensationalism of the trial." This reaction is unique. The jury went against their feelings and demanded that the prosecution prove the case with reason.

Perhaps the most shocking statement made by a juror was, "I'm not saying I believe the defense. Obviously, it wasn't proven so I'm not taking that and speculating at all. But it's easier for me logically to get from point A to point B via the defense argument." For a prosecutor this must be the worst kind of thing to hear. The jurors wanted to find her guilty, but because the prosecution did not present a story that was easy to follow, they couldn't. This sounds like a communication problem.

One more incredibly interesting piece of information is that apparently the defense used a Palm Beach graphics company to help them communicate visually to the jury. I have not seen these graphics, nor do I know if they were helpful to the jury. What I do know is that the end result is that apparently, despite the jurors not trusting Casey Anthony and wanting to find her guilty, the defense communicated better than the prosecution.

In the end a juror said, "If there was a dead child in that trunk, does that prove how she died? No idea, still no idea."

Conversely, the prosecution in an interview said when referencing some of the evidence, "What I've said all along is if a jury looks at that photograph and doesn't see it the way I do and doesn't know how she died, then so be it . . . I wouldn't have been involved in this case if I didn't think she did it."

Unfortunately, the juror is right. The misconception made by the prosecution as well as many attorneys is that feeling alone will get them from point A to point B. Yes, they showed a photo of a dead child in a trunk with duct tape on her mouth. This shows that the child was dead at the time the photos was taken. That's it. Yes, it's a visual piece of evidence, but it is not communicating in an effective visual way (see an earlier blog post for more detail about this).

Despite showing this photo, the prosecution did not explain how she died. The defense exploited this gap in the reasoning and widened it enough so that the jurors could not logically make the leap from point A to point B. The missing step is that an attorney can't just put up a photo and have it speak for itself. The attorney needs a story as well as a proper visual (perhaps a timeline or geographical diagram connected to the photo) to explain that photo. Moreover, the attorneys needs to use that photo as part of a larger visual communication strategy that incorporates storytelling. The story needs to link pieces together so that a juror can follow along. The one repeated comment by the jurors is that the prosecution did not do this. They paraded their visual evidence, but did not tie it together in a way that explained what happened.

I am interested to see how yet another potential emotions vs. reason trial plays out in the State v. Murray trial.

Michael Jackson's doctor has definitely made quite a few enemies in the public eye. He allegedly negligently caused the death of one of the greatest musicians of all time. Not much is known about the evidence in that trial, but if juries couldn't find an alleged child murderer guilty, then the prosecution might have a harder time nailing Dr. Murray. I, for one, will be watching closely to see if the prosecution puts together a cohesive story that the jurors can follow. If they're on their game, they hopefully have some visual communication strategy already lined up.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bad 3d Makes for Bad Law

Ever have someone offer you help and it actually just made things worse? You know, “I'll help you move” and the person "helping" is now inadvertently scraping the wooden legs of your couch against the new paint on the hallway wall. Sometimes hiring graphic artists can be like that. Graphic artists, court reporters or engineers will tell lawyers that they are "committed to helping you present your case in the most compelling, memorable manner possible." While compelling and memorable are very important to a legal visual presentation, more important is that the presentation of evidence be admissible. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and money.

This is exactly why my company assigns lawyers to consult as project managers for the legal visual communication projects we undertake. A lawyer, trained and practiced in evidence, understands the difference between a substantive presentation designed to persuade at a mediation … versus a presentation used as a pedagogical device at trial to teach principles explaining complex expert testimony … versus a silly inadmissible Hollywood-style dramatic visual presentation created for entertainment value.

The bottom line is that non-lawyers who create visuals for litigation do not (and for good reason should not) understand the rules of evidence or the practice of law. This is true even though the non-lawyers happen to spend a lot of their time in a courtroom, like court reporters. Because they do not possess a thorough grasp of the rules of evidence, and because they don't understand precisely why certain evidence must be shown in a particular way, trial lawyers who hire these individuals need to spend more time with the non-lawyer graphic designer to ensure admissibility of the final animation.

The focus of any legal graphic, especially a 3D animation, needs to be on relevant, professional, educational visual communication, instead of visceral, manipulative, visual entertainment. A trial lawyer, reviewing 3D animations (ones created for you or for your opponent), must pay close attention to the following:

Camera angle choices - why did the visual designer choose a particular camera angle? Does that make the presentation of the information more persuasive or more manipulative? Does it make the graphic more admissible or less admissible at trial?

Sound effects - Honestly, I don't ever see a need to use sound effects – they are silly, distracting, irrelevant, and manipulative. Nonetheless, I have seen lawyers (and graphic consultants) stand before a roomful of CLE attendees proudly presenting PowerPoint presentations and animations with sound effects … without a hint of any awareness of the impropriety. The one exception to the use of sound might be if a sound is being used as a demonstration of the actual sound heard by a witness. But then it would not be an effect, rather, a demonstration (with its own admissibility hurdles to overcome).

Flashes of light or flying objects - Flying or flashing things are usually used to create dramatic Hollywood style effects. Unless there is a science to the randomness of the way in which objects fly through the air (like electrons in a mechanical device), such things ought to be left out of an animation (or objected to as manipulative and irrelevant).

Motion blur effects - These effects are used by Hollywood to imply speed or dizziness. Such effects are not relevant and unduly prejudicial, making the jury (the viewer) feel a certain way -- as opposed to illustrating the evidence in a fair and accurate, (or sometimes, scientifically accurate way).

Particle effects – These are used to replicate air or liquid movement such as in an explosion. Unless an expert will be authenticating the visual depiction of the explosion as a fair and accurate representation, it is extraneous and probably prejudicial/inadmissible.

For a great example of precisely how not to develop a 3D presentation, and the highly inappropriate use of all of the above methods, look at the first example on this website ( of a 3D animation of a truck accident -- complete with sound effects, flying objects and particle effects.

Lawyers should use 3D animations when the third dimension actually helps to convey information that cannot be explained in another better way. Bad 3D animations make for bad law. Unfortunately, they also may adversely impact the ability of prosecutors and trial lawyers to use properly created, appropriate, and admissible 3D animations in the future.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scene Documentation From A New Angle!

It was reported in the Los Angeles Times this week that Libyan rebels used mini drones during their march on Tripoli to gather intel on Kadafi's forces. Similar drones were said to be used by the United States earlier this summer to monitor Bin Ladens' compound. These drones have been used mainly for military reasons, but this technology could be a new way to gather video/photo documentation for legal cases in a fast and effective way.

Potentially prohibitive costs aside, think about how easy it would be to gather a 360 degree video of a building involved in a lawsuit, or a take geographical photos of a crime scene stretching many miles long, and not only that, the lead lawyer and experts could monitor the whole process on a preview screen live. These drones could be a new way to collect evidence and investigate new angles of a case (literally). New technologies like this drone could open up doors to persuade the jury and take them on a journey without ever having to leave the jury box.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Technologically Equipped?

Computers have had an increasingly important role in the world of litigation. From maintaining communication between a client and lawyer to creating a full presentation made for courtroom trials. Not only is having a full understanding of the data important and having the talent recreate it visually, but maintaining the hardware and software of the tool being used is also very important.

When creating presentations with high definition video or graphically intensive visuals, the software to birth and manipulate these presentations needs powerful computers. Staying up to date with hardware is nearly impossible to do without shelling out loads of money to buy a new computer every month. There are however ways to keep a computer running fast and in top shape without putting a hole in the companies wallet for a new computer every month.

For desktop computers one of the easiest things to upgrade are the system's memory sticks or "RAM". Replacing that is as easy as replacing batteries in a flashlight. However you have to make sure you're buying the right memory for your computer. Each computer only accepts specific types, and its best to ask at the store which will work with your machine. For beefy visuals another important piece of computer hardware is the graphics card. Replacing that is also fairly simple but can cost more than buying memory. Its best to make sure you're buying the right that is compatible with your computer.

Running the latest version of Windows (if you're a PC user) or the latest version of Mac OS (if you're a Mac user) and making sure it has the most recent software updates help keep things current and protect your computer from old bugs. Utilizing one of the many free online antivirus software is a big help with keeping out malware and intruders from taking over what is yours. A 3rd party web browser such as Google Chrome is great for safe web browsing and will allow for a better internet experience. In the legal field its always of great importance to keep confidential files and information out of harm's way, even just from software crashes. Backing up data and essential files is a necessary safety precaution and also a good way to keep older large files safe and out of the way to make room for new ones.

Performing these simple upgrades in addition to some daily routine maintenance will help keep your equipment in top shape. Whether it's for creating visually intensive presentations or maintaining valuable confidential data you will be well prepared for the digital world of legal presentations.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google Chromebook

There's been a lot of talk about Google over the past few days. Especially with the launch of Google+, which seems to be an answer to Facebook, albeit in a much younger state. In addition to trying to take over what is already out there, Google proposes to change how we look at computing through the introduction of its Chromebook.

Watch this video to learn more about it:

At first glance it looks like just another laptop (not even a tablet), but it is actually something new and different. Google is making a push for totally online computing. Much of the computing world is already headed in that direction through streaming videos and cloud (virtual) data storage. The Chromebook seems to capitalize on that idea by making everything accessible through its Chrome browser. Word processing can be done in email or through online applications and so can photo, music, or video access. With most lay people only using computers for basic word processing or basic multimedia access, this non-bulky software approach does seem ideal as long as you have an internet connection.

There still remains, however, a problem for professional users. How does Google propose to handle heavy video or photo editing without applications like Photoshop or video editing programs? What about the security of databases for law firms? It may be enough to say that the lay person can use the chromebook while the professional may still need more comprehensive operating systems. Nonetheless, there remains the possibility that Google's push to simplify computing may result in a larger rift among computer users. Compatibility between files and file sharing may also decline as professionals and lay people no longer use the same type of technology.

While Google's approach is admittedly intriguing and potentially life-changing in the computing world, there are still many issues that need to be addressed before this platform can really take off. One example is a logistical one. Currently Google chrome is generally a free and open source operating system, but how long will it remain that way? How long before the supposed savings of not having to pay for large operating systems that operate on native hardware are no longer present due to online fees to access your own information? Many companies (like Netflix's latest fee debacle) get you hooked and then hike up their prices once the customer relies on the services.

Although exciting, users should be wary of diving head first into any new technology until it has been tried, tested, and its realistic longevity determined. We all remember (or maybe some don't) laser disc and the failed HD DVD technologies. Regardless, at a bare minimum Google is putting out another option for computer users to experience and that is something worth trying.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A second set of eyes...

I meet a lot of attorneys over the course of a year and inevitably the question of what we "do" comes up. No matter how many times it's explained many attorneys seem to confuse presenting evidence visually with visual evidence. Yes... that does look confusing when I write it out, so let me explain.

Presenting Visual Evidence:

Sometimes our clients don't think to call us unless
they have visual evidence like photos, video, maps, diagrams, medical scans, etc. They can make a rash assumption that unless they have this kind of evidence in their cases, they can't use the services that WIN Interactive provides. What we often tell many potential clients (our current clients already know this) is that before you make any judgment about what is or isn't visual evidence in your case, you should wait until you've talked with us (or me if I'm the one doing the talking). I'm not saying that to get business (although this is what people pay me for) and I'm not saying that to belittle anyone's knowledge. It's just a simple fact that you go to a specialist in an area when you need information you don't have. Doctors consult one another all the time and lawyers do the same. This is no different than that. WIN Interactive exists (and I have a job) because we specialize in an area that most attorneys don't -- Visual Communication in a legal setting.

With that said, presenting visual evidence seems like a no-brainer. If you have a video, get a VCR or DVD player. If you have photos get a laptop, projector, TV, or an ELMO to show them. If you have medical scans, treat them like photos or blow them up as posters. It all sounds easy, but believe it or not, there are still more effective ways of showing your visual evidence than just throwing them up on a big screen. Treating them like glorified documents isn't necessarily going to help you communicate more effectively or tell your story. Sometimes you need more help. Check out our Satellite™ tool that links photos to maps/diagrams. Also check out or BodyMap™ tools that link photos to diagrams of the human body.

Presenting Evidence Visually:

This is where it gets tricky. A lot of attorneys work in areas of litigation where they think that all they have is documents and data so there is no point in even attempting to communicate visually. The truth of the matter is that any case can be communicated visually. If you have data in stacks of paper, juries don't want to see it. Really. It's boring and with the attention spans of most people dropping to 20 to 45 min., you're lucky if people can even follow along. You have to make your point and convey your information quickly
and efficiently. Check out this example of our Helix™ tool (used in the Commonwealth v. Ruell trial, where a finding of 1st degree murder was upheld by the Supreme Judicial court.). We took a stack of DNA testing that tested over 100 individuals and turned that data into a visual that was really easy to communicate. The alternative would have been to go through each data set and look at each of the individuals to see if they matched. That is just the wrong way to go through your evidence. In other commercial, business, and medical cases we had records that amounted to stacks of almost non-navigable paper. We often turn stacks like these into timelines or charts. This allows the documents to be tracked over time and in a visual way that is memorable.

All cases have some potential for visual communication even if it's just taking video depositions. The point is that when all an attorney sees are documents, figures, data, and words in front of him, it might help to get a second set of eyes to see things a different way. That's exactly what we do at WIN Interactive. We're a second set of eyes that look at your case differently. It's that different perspective that can make all the difference.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mission: Possible

Unless you've been living under a rock or in a cave you undoubtedly have heard about the death of Osama Bin Laden. Codenamed operation: Neptune's Spear, the raid on his compound was a 38 minute mission executed in total darkness by Team Six with one main objective. This precise and thoroughly planned out mission took months of preparation and top secret technology.

What I find most intriguing about the raid is the technology that the elite team of navy seals called Team Six used to swiftly get in and get out undetected before anyone even knew about it. A team so highly ranked that you can't apply or sign up to join, you have to be recruited. This team is one of the United States' two secretive Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units; the other group being Delta Force. Before the world knew about this event, technically, they did not exist. Utilizing stealth drones, hyperspectral image sensors, miniaturized high definition helmet cameras, terrain-following radar, surveillance systems, top secret stealth helicopters and much, much more, they were able to infiltrate and exit without a hitch.

As of right now mention of only some of the high tech equipment has been released to the public and media. The rest is classified to the highest extent to keep away from enemy intelligence. Every bit of equipment and tech used in this operation was stealth based and completely undetected by radar. While Team Six was nearly invisible, everything in and around the terrorist compound was completely visible and detectable to them through the use of hyperspectral imaging. Hyperspectral is the spectrum of light that our naked eyes cannot see and is above or beyond the spectrum that we normally can see. We are only able to see a small sliver of the light that bounces of objects, but with the help of the right devices and an expert staff of people backing them up behind the scenes, we can expose objects and people that don't want to be in sight. Such as the case with this mission.

How does this relate to our legal practices here at WIN Interactive you might ask yourself? Well, we specialize in using the latest advancements in technology to create and display a series of events, bringing documented evidence to life. A lot of the technology released into the public for business and personal use originates from governmental purposes. For instance, what is now known as the internet originated in 1958 from a network of radar systems to further advancements in research for the US to regain technological lead after the USSR launched Sputnik. This then lead to the interconnection of computers that linked different areas of government together to ensure the survivability of communication networks.

A technology such as hyperspectral imaging would be of great value to the creation of court room presentations. The ability to look under the rubble of a collapsed home or seeing in the rooms of a condemned building that aren't safe to be inside of, would be extremely useful. A 3D artist would then be able to recreate how the place once looked or looks at that particular time without getting in harm's way. We might not be using stealth drones and hyperspectral radar sensor equipment for courtroom presentations, but it's likely that derivatives of some of these classified technologies will one day trickle down into practical uses that we can implement into our high tech demonstrations here in the future at WIN Interactive.

Monday, April 25, 2011

From Where You're Sitting...

As lawyers or lay participants in the legal system, we are often not afforded the luxury of the truth. It's most often the very fact that two parties see a set of facts in different ways that lead to the disputes in our courts. I'm not saying that there is no such thing as Truth with a capital "T" (anyone that wants to have this philosophical conversation with me can drop me a line and we can talk objectivism v. relativism for hours). I'm also not saying that we can't know certain facts (such as an undisputed date of a murder) as truth. What I am saying is that we are often not given a full data set of truthful facts upon which to make up our minds. If we had that set of facts, we wouldn't need lawyers for anything other than muddying the water (which we are so good at), but instead everyone would simply know what happened.

With that said, a lawyer and his/her client has a certain perspective of the facts. That perspective is exactly what each and every lawyer tries to convey to a mediator, arbitrator, judge, jury, and even to the opposing party. Lawyers use different methods of accomplishing this goal. Some get it right and many don't.

I've seen lawyers hammer away at certain facts in front of a jury. They repeat those facts. They stress those facts. They physically highlight those facts and then berate witnesses with those facts. The facts are jumbled and out of order as an attorney jumps at any opportunity to "set the record straight." Unfortunately, this approach only works if your opponent is doing the same poor job at explaining his case. Many attorneys feel that you either have the facts or you don't and in a case where the facts are "clear," justice MIGHT be served even if the jury doesn't quite get what you're talking about.

On the other hand, I've seen attorneys skillfully weave facts based on a framework (that starts in the opening statement) into a cohesive story. Everything contributes to that theme and that story. The witness lists, the questions, the cross-examinations, the marking of evidence, all of it is aimed at fleshing out the story or the perspective of that case if you will. Granted, attorneys don't always have the luxury of having everything go according to plan. Witnesses are brought in out of order, testimony is bumpier than expected, or judges make unexpected calls against them. A skillful attorney that knows his/her story, however, can use an obstacle to his/her advantage and make it stay in line with the overall theme or story.

What I'm about to say right now will shock some people, but I'm sure most would agree. A lot of cases are not won on the facts. They are won by the lawyers presenting those facts. Is that justice? I guess that depends on your definition of justice. At the bare minimum, it's how our advocacy-based system works. I've seen lawyers walk away with settlements in the millions that they probably didn't deserve simply because they were better prepared and had a better story to tell than the other side. I've seen juries give awards simply because one attorney was more likable than the other. Like it or not, that's the world we live in and the system we work with.

With that in mind, lawyers need to advocate for their clients using more than just a set of documents that might support a case. They need to use their speaking skills, their charm, their ability to create a story from jumbled facts so that a jury can relate to it. It's that exact concept that we keep in mind when we at WIN Interactive consult on visual communication strategy. Our President, Brian Carney, Esq. likes to ask lawyers a question when he meets them. It is: "What is the job of every lawyer?" I'll tell you the answer in case you ever meet him, but don't tell him I told you! What he's getting at is that every attorney's job is to be a storyteller. That doesn't mean making things up, but it does mean organizing your facts so that they tell a story, selecting the most critical facts so that the story is concise yet persuasive, and then communicating those facts to another person in a way that is engaging. The organization, selection of critical facts, and then communication of those facts (visually) is where we come in (i.e. the place where a case lives or dies).

Check out this photo to the right:

This photo represents the majority of cases that make it to trial. Cases often go to trial when opposing parties are so sure of their claims that they are willing to risk it all in court. Both sides feel that they have valid, persuasive arguments to make and the facts support those arguments.

The question in this photos is: "Is he going or coming?" Just by looking at the silhouette, which is it? The argument that he's going or coming are almost equally powerful based on the silhouettes alone. This is an optical illusion and a question like this would often come down to, which person making the argument seems more believable (i.e. which attorney do I like or trust more?).

Now look at the image again and read the words. It says that "He wends his way to see the Game on Bloomer Day (emphasis added)." Arguably, the "he" is the man on the horse because he's the only person in the picture, though another argument is that "he" is the dog, but that sounds like a weak one!

Then, again, look at the picture and see what it says in the background. "Boston Bloomer Girls vs. Local Nine." This would seem to indicate that the background is the arena for the game and that Bloomer Day relates to the Bloomer Girls. Again, just an argument, but suddenly it seems much more persuasive that the silhouette of the horse-rider is heading away or "going" towards the tent structure in the background. A prepared attorney that knows his evidence and can explain that evidence using the visual above has a much better chance of winning his argument even when the situation seems "balanced."

Now look at the following photo (this is NOT a "photoshopped" image - it is a real photo):

This next photo represents what I would call an unbalanced playing field. Let's pretend that the argument here is that the man in this photo is either a giant or he is an evil wizard that has magically shrunk this poor woman (for the sake of illustration, suspend your disbelief for the moment and go with the fantasy that something like this is possible).

The argument against is that this is a lie and, in fact, nothing is as it seems. The two people are really the size of average people.

Unfortunately for the party arguing that these people are normal sizes, the image does not support that theory of the case. At least not from this perspective.

Now look at the following picture...

In this picture we can see that by simply looking at the image from another perspective, the trick is revealed.

Imagine, however, trying to explain this trick to someone WITHOUT the use of the image to the right. The other side has the picture above and you are stuck using your words to explain the issue. It's an uphill battle that you might win, but why not level the playing field? Take your own camera crew out to the scene and document it from perspectives that support your argument. Create a 2D or 3D graphic that explains the process of the trick step by step and then show (perhaps in a 3D animation) how the image changes just by adjusting your perspective. That's a perspective worth sharing and educating a jury with.

Your job is made much easier when you not only know your facts, but you know how to present the evidence in a clear, convincing way.

Whether you're on a balanced playing field or facing a potentially uphill battle, both cases require an attorney to utilize all of the tools available to him/her. That means mastering your evidence in full, selecting critical facts to shape your story efficiently, and then communicating those facts in a clear way using verbal and visual communication. Sometimes the perspective you start with is not always the perspective you have to be stuck with.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

News and the Media

The use of media is seen in every facet of life now. With documentaries, movies, television shows, social networking and simple communication we have become dependent on updates to our phones or reminder pop-ups on our computers. Watching Chronicle on channel 5 the other night, I was mesmerized by the way we are learning now, I learned more in the 30 minute show about “What’s new in Boston” than in my 5 years living downtown Boston. The show serves as an educational tool for viewers. The news from our local areas is now updated every 15-30 seconds online, with breaking stories, video postings, tweeting and live broadcast; you can never miss a beat of what is going on out in the world even if you are at a desk or behind a computer for the majority of the day.

I remember only watching the news at 5 and 6 o’clock when I got home from school before dinner time, now I receive updates on my phone, have a news app, and can be online for 5 minutes and be caught up on the days stories, crime reports, scandals and gossip; and hour later things have already changed. The world outside is non-stop and now so is media sources that have become conveniently at our fingertips with the click of a mouse or a touch on our phones.

With newspapers being an “outdated” source of receiving the news, most papers like the Boston Globe, NY Times and Herald now have full websites where their readers can be caught up without reading a large, oversized black and white book. Will newspapers be replaced by apps and websites? For right now people are more caught up and involved in everyday news, stories and reports about their own areas, state, country and world than ever before because of the media advances and the convenience, availability and being able to avoid paying the $0.75 to read a paper when you can jump online and be caught up by reading the headline stories on the first page. The design of most websites are great too, because the top stories and important messages are flashing in front of your face as other news is presented in videos along with other story headlines are strolling through in the news ticker. It is a consistent flashing of news that consists of the most notable stories of the day, week, and month. These convenient ways have allowed my generation to become more knowledgeable and up to date with current events, even in areas of politics, where most 20 to 25 year olds have no interest in.

These media advances and convenient ways to get caught up on everyday news has really made newspapers an outdated source of receiving news because technology has surpassed the black and white text.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Expanding On Courtroom Technology

With the ever increasing popularity of smartphones, the tablet is a fancy mobile device that is a cross between a laptop and a smartphone, with a promising future.

Launching in April of 2010, Apple was the first to make the tablet idea mainstream with the release of the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy Tab was released next in late 2010, followed by Motorola's Xoom in early 2011, and releases throughout the remainder of this year will be from HTC, ASUS, Blackberry and HP.

As these devices acquire more software applications, they become more practical for a wide variety of uses. Working in the field of litigation, I've noticed that there potentially is a land of opportunity with tablets. Being just a skinny slate, they are much easier to transport, very thin and very light weight. This also helps with the battery life making it last longer than most any laptop. One of the most important features in my mind is the camera. Taking a picture or video and then instantly being able to view and edit them on the screen would drastically help speed up the preproduction process of multimedia cases.

The major implementation towards production that comes to mind is the ability to write or draw on photographs immediately after taking them. This would come in handy when recording measurements of a structure or distances between objects at the scene of an accident. Normally you would take photographs and write down the measurements separately on a sheet of paper, but this can sometimes create a disconnect and can also be much more time consuming when implementing the measurements later on. For instance if you were recording measurements of a building for 3D presentation you write the measurements directly on the photograph.

Another use for tablets in the legal world that I foresee as being very beneficial is during a courtroom trial. What if each member of the jury had a tablet which they could use to interact with a 3D presentation? What if each person in the jury could choose what angle they view an accident from by moving around the screen at just the touch of their finger? However, there may be some objectionable admissibility issues between the presentation of the lawyer and what juror has control over while interacting with it. Even schools now are considering replacing their classroom books with tablets because of the wealth of information you can have at your fingertips. With developing 3D technologies now being implemented into screens and all sorts of creative software being put out by developers I look forward to the progress of tablets in the future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

If You Can Draw It, You Can Use It...

In my experience as a litigation consultant for the past few years, I find that many clients often express concern over the use of demonstrative evidence, graphics, interactive multimedia, or visuals in general at trial. The most common question is whether or not a visual is admissible. Generally, the answer is simple: It depends. While the answer is simple, the meaning of that answer obviously isn't.

Yes, there are many kinds of visuals that are inadmissible and require objection. At WIN Interactive we tend to pride ourselves on not only knowing how to create admissible visuals, but also how to rip apart an opponent's visuals with legal argument. In a borderline demented way we actually find it fun!

Nonetheless, I'm not going to get into all the intricacies involved with creating more complex visuals with admissibility in mind. I want to keep this post simple and offer some of you a very useable rule of thumb. Basically, if you can draw it, you can use it. What I mean by that is even if you can't get a visual marked and placed into evidence, you can still often use that visual as a chalk. In fact, most of the visuals used in trials today come in as chalks. That means they may be shown to the judge and jury for explanatory/educational purposes in conjunction with a witness , but the visual itself often is not considered evidence.

I like to think of the term, "Chalk," literally. If you had a blackboard in court and a piece of chalk, you could draw or have your witness draw elements of a person's testimony in order to keep track and highlight certain portions of it. I worked on one trial in San Antonio, TX where the lead attorney on the case used a blank piece of paper, a felt tipped marker and an ELMO (document camera device) to draw while a witness testified. The effect was that he was teaching the jury while a witness testified. Some courts around the country might not have the patience for this sort of step by step approach, but the majority of judges would be hard pressed to refuse you the use of a blackboard, whiteboard, or large pad of paper on an easel.

Keeping that in mind, when faced with a judge's misplaced concern over a visual image, the go-to argument should be to ask the judge whether you would be permitted to draw the image on a chalkboard and use it as a chalk. Look at the three following examples of images:

This image is how a person might draw a basic house on a chalkboard. Even a person with high artistic ability would probably not fair much better considering the speed with which one might need to draw while on the spot at trial. This is very likely admissible as a chalk.

This next image is the same basic house, but drawn using a computer program. Already there is an improvement because the lines are straight and the background is white. People are more used to white paper print-outs or computers today since not many people (other than maybe schoolteachers) use a blackboard anymore.

In this last image we have clearly skipped a few steps in between, but I just wanted to show you how you could go from a blackboard drawing to a high quality 3D image (not an animation -- that's another story) while still remaining within the same chain of logic. The only difference between these images is the medium used to create them.

If you can use an image that you can crudely draw on an archaic blackboard then why can't you use a clearer, much more educational image to accomplish the same goal? Please keep in mind that what you do with an image is even more important than the image itself, but that is grounds for a much longer discussion and I want to keep this (perhaps overly) simple.

The basic point I'm trying to make is that just because a judge or an attorney may not understand modern technology and graphic design, doesn't mean that the objections are founded. Really, the objection (in most cases) is one made out of fear of the unknown and erring on the side of safety. The best thing an attorney can do is to hand-hold the objector on a logical path that takes him from what he knows to what he doesn't and shows him that the two aren't that far off.

So, again... while it isn't a hard-line rule... if you can draw it (or have someone else draw it for you)... you can use it. Ask yourself these questions about your visual:

1) Is it corroborated by a witnesses' testimony and/or facts already in evidence?
2) Is the drawing a fair and accurate REPRESENTATION (i.e. it doesn't have to be to scale, etc.) of the facts/testimony?
3) Is it educational and helpful to the jury to understand a potentially complex issue?
4) Could I have drawn this on a blackboard (albeit poorly)?

Answering, "Yes," to these questions gets you off to a good start!

Keep that in mind the next time you plug your computer in for trial and someone gets an incredulous look on his/her face...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Learning through tutorials

Tutorials are very important no matter if you have an entry- level position or are an “expert” in your field. You can learn from one another and the presentation of information they relay. Tutorials can be found online for numerous programs, tasks or projects. But learning from other people can hold more meaning and help you comprehend things that you may not understand or have difficulty with. Tutorials are defined as something that provides instruction in a particular area. However, beyond following an instruction guide online or reading a step-by-step book, we can learn from others and become much more effective. At WIN the legal team works together on many cases that come before us, however certain individuals hold expertise in fields such as multimedia, programming, 3D, graphic design and web page design. However each individual is in constant communication with one another and learn new ways of doing things that are effective and less time consuming.

Learning from your peers can be very beneficial for the individual and the company to grow. A simple tutorial or textbook can spark the desire to learn a new concept of your expertise. If another person can explain a concept better to you than watching a 10-minute video than the knowledge is more useful because the person is speaking about his or her own experiences.

Learning from your peers is a useful way to build communication skills and learn new concepts, ideas and receive constructive criticism in a way that has a lastly affect on the individual and their work. Presenting what you know or examples of your work can allow your peers to understand visually the ideas and projects you are working on; rather than reading a report or notes. The power of communication, networking and visual presentations will surpass texting, phone calls and social networking because the one on one communication and relay of information is that much more effective and leaves a lasting impression on the individual.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


In one of the episodes of Dragnet, which aired in the 1950's, it took a severe toothache and his partner's nudging to finally convince Joe Friday to approach the pain-filled potential of a dentist's chair. [Click here to see "The Big Frame"]. It is natural, people will avoid pain whenever possible. Avoiding pain, in fact, is one of the two basic motivators of people. The other is gaining pleasure. Pain, however as Joe Friday's behavior indicates, is said to be a much more effective motivator than pleasure. In fact, "actual" pain is not required for motivation, just the mere threat of pain -- the potential for pain.

I recently encountered a situation where merely the threat of pain was enough to ensure compliance with a simple request of mine. As they say in Dragnet, "Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."

So, I'm in a toy store buying my son a toy. The problem began when several store issued coupons were not calculating the proper discount in the store cash register. No matter how diligently the store clerk worked at entering them correctly, she could not seem to calculate the proper discount. The scanner wasn't working properly ... the coupon was printed incorrectly ... or some combination of the two. The store manager was called in to help resolve the discrepancy. Her unpleasant demeanor indicated to me that she must have missed the customer service training program when they offered it to her. The simple request I made was to give me the discount and figure out the problem with the coupons later -- after my son and I are long gone from the store. The manager's "solution" to my dilemma was to tell me that I could go home, call the 1-800 customer service line, and solve the coupon problem myself. Her attitude was, at best, unhelpful and her demeanor unpleasant.

i-Phone to the rescue!

I pulled out my i-Phone and she naturally thought I was taking her suggestion to call the 1-800 number myself. I started an app that turns your i-phone into an audio-recorder. I told her: "This is recording now … would you like to say that again to me (and she knew what I really meant was -- in the demeaning and disrespectful way you just said it to me a second ago)?"

Instantly she changed her demeanor and in minutes my coupon problem was solved -- by her, with a smile on her face, and a free balloon for my three-year-old son. I really didn't do much other than provide a vision of potential pain to her imagination. The pain of the possible recording of our next few minutes together possibly being played back to her boss (someday in the future) was motivation enough. Interestingly, her pain was self-imposed. I didn't have to make any threat. Just attempting to record the rest of our conversation was enough for her imagination to kick in.

Her desire to avoid "potential pain" reminds me of a situation I have seen in my legal consulting work -- the pain that is created by one lawyer who effectively uses cutting-edge demonstrative evidence against an opposing lawyer who doesn't use technology at all. My experience here in the northeast is that lawyers new to the use of presentation technology, often don't contemplate using technology until they are faced with a big case or until they encounter the pain of seeing their opponent using it. Those , however, are really not the ideal times to start learning how to employ visual communication.

At trial, I have personally witnessed the opposing client (as we are wheeling into the courtroom several pieces of electronic equipment) ask his own lawyer (opposing counsel), if they will be using similar technology during the trial, as well. Knowing my opponent's expected answer ("No,") and watching him try to come up with an explanation to his client why none of that equipment is necessary, is actually painful for me. At mediation, I have also witnessed very good lawyers, after having been confronted with a devastatingly powerful visual presentation (which demonstrates our client's command of the facts, and ability to professionally and effectively present the evidence), feel the need to explicitly address the disparity, attempt to downplay the use of technology, and justify to the mediator why they didn't prepare an electronic presentation of their own.

How satisfied are you with your current use of multimedia technology? Do you need to wait, like Joe Friday until the pain is overwhelming to embrace the new technologies available to trial lawyers today? Or are you leading the way?

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Shark Still Looks Fake"

Now that we are all well aware that 3D technology is here to stay for movies, television and soon for games, and mobile's safe to say that those annoying glasses need to go. This auto-stereoscopic technology is a lot closer than you think and you don't need to go watch Back to the Future 2 to see it.

The first generation of 3D tvs have been impressive but just don't cut the mustard in terms of practicality. In a fairly large effort to be pushed mainstream, 3D television displays have been tough to sell despite the increasing amount of ticket sales for 3D movies at your local cinema. The fact of the matter is, the glasses are too too bulky and expensive, and the average person doesn't want to sit wearing them at home. On top of that, right now there just isn't much 3D content available to watch. This will all soon change in 2011 with the emergence of new 3D devices and the ability to view content glasses-free.

The first of the next generation electronics to implement the concept will be the Nintendo 3DS which will be on shelves as early as next month. The device will create a glasses-free 3D effect using a parallax barrier, which sits on top of an LCD display. These light blocking barriers redirect the left-eye and right-eye images. The idea is that instead of having glasses on your head, they are now on the screen itself. The barriers can also be switched off to display images in regular 2D mode. There's also downsides to this effect. One is that the screens brightness is reduced and the other is that the 3D effect is only visible within a limited viewing range. Because of those reasons, this technology is currently only optimal for smaller devices and wont make its way to larger screens.

Toshiba will be the first in the industry to release a television implementing the glasses-free technology by using lenticular lenses. These are shaped so that a different image is displayed depending on the viewing angle in which you are at. Currently the largest display for this is only a 21 inch screen (currently only available over seas) but larger versions are currently in the works. A 65 inch version was demoed at the 2011 CES show this year and proved glasses-less 3D can be achieved at a much larger scale. Even with this achievement though the viewing angles are still limited but hopefully will be resolved upon the its official release.

A step forward in 3D content will be starting on February 14th when ESPN's 3D channel will begin 24-hour broadcasting. Along with this, multiple digital imaging companies such as Sony, Fujifilm and Panasonic have announced or already have released 3D-capable cameras and camcorders. The images and video will in turn need to be displayed on a 3D capable screen. Also, debuting this year will be cell phones and tablet computers using 3D glasses-free technology. A phone with a glasses-free 3D screen using a technology called Masterimage is already available in Japan.

The future of 3D technology looks promising, with many more screens and devices being released this year. As long as the content grows, 3D will become more available. One question remains...will 3D technology replace 2D and become the new standard for our entertainment viewing if its glasses-free?

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Era of the iPod.

During our lunch hour we were discussing the breaking news about how the iPhone 4 is coming to Verizon. Then we began to reminisce about the time before the iPod and Apple's tech savvy applications. We were talking about how young we were when the first iPod came out and how it has evolved over the last 10 years to become the “it” thing in our society. What would we do without the hand- sized brick that has been able to store our music, pictures, and rid us of boredom with fun applications? Now that Verizon has gained a piece of the fame, many customers are eager to have their very own iPhone.
Look at how the iPod has changed with its shape, color, quality and weight over the years.

Something as small and relatively unimportant as a “music player” has shaped our social interaction and need to have the newest technology. Those that might still have the original “brick” iPod are now seen as weird and technologically behind. This technology has affected the way people communicate and interact with one another. When those apple buds are in their ears they become oblivious to what is going on around them. This technology is more than a fad. It is now seen among the young and old as well as the professional world. The iPod and more recently, the iPhone, are still the talk despite criticism on the latest model.

Now how does relate to the legal world? With this technology there have become ways for attorneys and those like us at WIN to utilize Apple technology to help us keep track of hours for billing, physically store notes when a pen is not handy, and maintain a contact database to store information about people we meet day to day. It also helps keep appointments and set personal reminders, simply because we all know we will never forget to look at our phone or iPod throughout the day. Apple has created a device that is both useful to a large audience and convenient with easy shortcuts, icons and applications; the ability to talk, store, and manage day to day tasks has been achieved.

It is exciting to see how Apple will out do themselves over and over again, and the ways people can use their technology to improve the way they communicate, run a business or simply stay in touch with others. Whatever their uses are, we are obsessed with our Apple devices and continue to fall in love with the new "oooo and ahhhhh" advances.