THE CHAIR’S CORNER

The Yin and Yang of Technology

By Robert A. Zupkus

This issue of GPSolo dedicates itself to technology. It is a subject with which humanity has one of its many love/hate relationships. On one hand, how could the world have really functioned before cell phones and the Internet? They make things easy and seamless. And on the other hand, cell phones and the Internet can spread immeasurable pain and suffering. Cell phone technology helps a terrorist detonate an IED. The Internet helps the terrorist assemble the bomb to be detonated by the cell phone.

Automatic traffic signals, devices not originally found in nature, once gave control to the flow of automobile traffic. No longer did each busy intersection require a traffic cop to prevent accidents and save lives. Now they are so ubiquitous they are often ignored and only begrudgingly obeyed. And talking on cell phones serves as the latest technological distraction from automatic traffic signals. Perhaps two generations ago, the prevailing technological distraction was attempting to dial in a station on the car AM radio.

Gutenberg’s printing press was received by some as the instrument of the devil, at least economically, and many presses were destroyed by those fearful of them. Take a moment and look up the word Luddite. I am tempted to suggest you look up the word in the dictionary. But I know better. Just hit your favorite computer key to call up Wikipedia. Anyway, being a Luddite was once all the rage. Rather like being a geek, but in reverse.

Aeons ago, left to is own devices, nature pretty much kept the size of the human herd in check (well, aided by a few bows and arrows). This might have been a good thing, given the supply of natural resources needed and consumed by people. The natural system at the time also allowed for the general survival of other life forms sharing the world with people and their nascent technology.

The biblical command to “be fruitful and multiply” has been taken out of context. Hit that computer key again to look up “fruitful.” It also means “productive of good results,” not just vast numbers reached by the mathematics of multiplication.

Adam and Eve, and those that followed, multiplied more often than they were fruitful. The result is measured, in the words of the late author Carl Sagan, by billions and billions and billions of people. The yang of technology helps them all survive. The yin of technology allows for their almost instant demise by weapons of mass destruction. The yin is also supplemented by the slower, yet ultimately fatal degradation of the ecosystem and depletion of natural resources such as clean water and fossil fuels. So we had better hope that yang technology abounds, and a workable stasis can be achieved with the yin.

And that brings us to you, gentle reader, and your use of technology. Of course, you must use your power of technology only for good and not for evil. But let us be more pragmatic than that. Don’t just be a passive user of and then vocal complainer about technology. Be a developer of technology. Be a systems engineer to get the technology right.

Be the good lawyer you are. If even what should be obviously good technology doesn’t work properly, gather the facts about the problem. Assemble the logical arguments to solve the problem. And then deliver the facts and argument to the proper forum.

For example, have you experienced a specific shortcoming in the use of the ABA website? If so, document what you did, what the site did, and what you think happened. Then, jump on SoloSez ( www.abanet.org/soloseznet) or Legally Minded ( www.legallyminded.com) to share the event. Learn if any colleagues had similar experiences. Then package up all the information and send it to me. My contact information is below. I will send the information on to the head of ABA/IS, Gordon Kerr, who has generously offered to investigate any observed web shortcomings and respond to us. His goal, as is ours, is to improve the ABA web technology. Similarly, if you conceive of useful improvements to Legally Minded, also send these concepts to me for transmission to Gordon Kerr. Together, we can improve the design and function of ABA technology. Help balance our technological yin and yang.

Robert A. Zupkus is Chair of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division and a partner at Zupkus & Angell, P.C., in Denver, Colorado. He may be reached at .

Copyright 2009

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