Notes from the Technology Trenches - January, 1998

Elizabeth H. Klampert is the Director of Library Services for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Ms. Klampert was formerly a litigator for five years, specializing in professional liability litigation. Before attending law school, she was a corporate librarian for twelve years, holding management positions in libraries in a number of large organizations, including Rainier National Bank in Seattle, Deloitte & Touche, and Merrill Lynch, both in New York. She received both her BA in English and MLS from the University of Washington in Seattle. She received her JD at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

(Archived February 1, 1998)

This month, as always, has been busy on the techno front. Among the events of interest this month was Internet World, sponsored by Mecklermedia. Since it was here in New York at the Javits Center, December 10-12, I decided to attend. Another interesting event was the filing in early December of what may be only the second Y2K complaint filed so far. The first was filed in Michigan in June -- the second was filed in California as a class action.

First, Internet World. I was able to attend as "press" since I’m a columnist for LLRX. I don’t know if this designation helped me at all, but people at the booths did seem to want to bend my ear! As one of the reporters from the New York Times noted, the crowd was probably more interesting than most of the booths this year. Perhaps the Internet World show belongs on Wired’s "Tired" list.

Much to my surprise, both Apple and Netscape were missing in action. Given that Microsoft and Sun were there along with the other big names (IBM, Lotus, Oracle, etc.), I wonder what these folks were thinking!

Microsoft and Sun, those archrivals, were positioned across an aisle from each other -- Mecklermedia must have a sense of humor (or maybe they just wanted to see if there would be some bloodshed). Both also had areas called "Partners Pavilion," where vendors who "partner" with these companies had mini-booths where you could find out just what their partnerships with Microsoft and Sun meant. I did a quick count and it looked as though Microsoft’s "Partner Pavilion" was the largest. As I roamed the floor, I saw a number of these "Partner Pavilions," obviously the latest thing for tech shows.

BTW, Netscape did have a small presence but nothing to rival Sun or Microsoft -- I’m sure that there are Netscape partners that would have been happy to populate one of those "Pavilions."

I was surprised to see that the United States Postal Service had a substantial booth -- I guess they are trying to clean up their image and show how technosavvy they are now (perhaps they are sensitive about that snailmail label). Less surprisingly, there were also a number of books available from, to name just a few, O’Reilly, Prentice-Hall, Wiley, and McGraw-Hill (on the lower level). A number of technology publishers were there, of course, including Ziff-Davis, handing out free copies of their offerings.

Other familiar vendors were there, too -- D&B had a nice booth, demonstrating their Web site, http://www.dnb.com, that allows you to get D&B information. Unfortunately, it does not allow you to get cost information just yet, a feature that the rep in the booth told me a lot of people seem to want. Well, yes.

Many booths, including IBM, Adobe, Novell and others, had a number of PCs available for people to get some hands on experience with their products and, not incidentally, the Internet. The lines for these were, predictably, l-o-n-g. On the lower level, in fact, there was a large bank of PCs in the "E-Mail Center" so that people could access their e-mail. I couldn’t resist and sent an e-mail off to LLRX, using my Web-based e-mail account, valise.com. Having a Web-based e-mail account comes in quite handy sometimes (a topic for another column).

A number of non-Internet service providers were there, including the only law firm at Internet World, Brown Raysman, a New York firm that has carved out a specialty in cyberlaw. The attorneys at the booth told me that they have gone to several of these shows and have been the only law firm there. They also told me that, not surprisingly, they have gotten a fair amount of business from being at these shows. For more on this firm, if you’re interested, go to their Web site, http://www.brownraysman.com.

Inmagic was there, touting its document management capabilities. A number of the leading search engines were on-site as well, including Alta Vista, Lycos and Infoseek. Verity also had a booth, as did Real Audio/Media/Video. PSI.net had what they were billing as the Internet’s "First Live Jazz Festival" -- when I stopped by, there was no music, only someone being interviewed, so I moved on.

I did not see too many "toys," although I did spot the "Wristglider" booth -- they look like yo-yos and are touted as "the key to comfortable computing." Good stocking stuffers, if nothing else!

The lower level had smaller booths, as well as the well-attended E-Mail Center and Brown Raysman. The companies represented here were involved in all sorts of e-commerce, including large companies like Charles Schwab and American Express. Some professional organizations were here, too -- the Association of Online Professionals, on the Internet at http://www.aop.org, and the Webmasters Guild, found at http://www.webmaster.org.

One final note. The most intriguing booth (to me) was "Mail Jail," where you can find "plug-in technology that guards against junk e-mail." Just what we all need, hm? For more enlightenment, check out their Web site at http://www.mailjail.com.

Next, the "Millenium Bug" front. At least two suits have been filed dealing with this problem and, I suspect, this is just the beginning. In June, the first Y2K case, Produce Palace International v. TEC-America Corp, was filed in Michigan Circuit Court. For a copy of the complaint, go to http://www.y2kexperts.com/litigation/19970612.htm.

The most recent Y2K complaint, Atlaz International v. Software Business Technologies, was filed on December 2 in California Superior Court as a class action. If you have access to either Cal Law or Counsel Connect, both have it available: Cal Law at http://www.callaw.com/opinions/hotdocs/millen.html and Counsel Connect at www.counsel.com in HotDocs. It is also available at a free site, http://www.nylj.com/links/y2katlaz.html.

Have a great new year!