Excerpt from:
Issue #8
April 1, 1999
On the Web at:

A REPORT FROM TECHSHOW '99 - Dennis Kennedy (

I've always liked John Naisbitt's notion of "high tech, high touch," by which he means that the higher the level of technology, the more important the personal element becomes. To me, the phrase also carries the notion that "higher" technologies should promote personal interactions and community. My TechShow experiences illustrate this notion. I took away from TechShow more of the high touch than the high tech - memories of the people I meet, conversations that gave me insights or a solution to a problem I had with a software program or my web site, and putting a face on someone I knew through an e-mail discussion list like Technolawyer ( or from articles I've read.

The sheer quantity of things to do at the ABA TechShow can overwhelm you. It is routine to spend 12 hours a day attending seminars, viewing exhibits and talking tech talk. You're tired at the end of the day, but it's that good kind of tired - fun, exhilarating, thought-provoking - where your mind tends to run with all kinds of new ideas.

In other words, I had great fun and met some great people, learned some new things, got some cool new ideas and got a sense of the trends that are taking the legal profession in directions we can't quite yet imagine.

And I finally got to meet, shake hands with and talk to legal tech legend Burgess Allison, something I've wanted to do for years.

Here's a quick report:

Show highlight. Sam Guiberson's Friday morning keynote speech about the choice between bandwidth and "bandwisdom", a passionate and eloquent sermon about remembering the possibilities that the Internet has opened for us in ways other than mercantile ones. I loved his reference to his family's pride in the fact that they had an ancestor who was a wagonmaster who helped lead pioneers across the frontier to new lands and his belief that that ancestor would take pride if he knew he had ancestors who had the title of webmaster. In other words, the talk reminded me why I fell in love with the Internet in the first place.

Session Highlight. For me, the very last seminar of the show. I was dragging by that time, but I definitely wanted to see Greg Siskind talk about web pages. He thanked the sparse crowd, made a quick reference to the poor time slot, then proceeded to blow us away, in his usual understated fashion, with a definitive presentation on the practicalities of maintaining a great web site. But the show wasn't over; Burkey Belser rose to the occasion and delivered a marvelous talk on web page design principles. How good was this seminar? People asked questions for 15 minutes afterward.

Session Highlight #2. I'm biased, but my friend, Alan Steinberg, along with Neil Agate, put on a great practical discussion of the PalmPilot, chock full of tips, personal experiences and how-tos (including the answer to the question: why do Pilot owners carry toothpicks rather than paper clips?). Any Palm Pilot user should consider tracking down the audiotape of the session.

Most Often-used Term. "Extranets." There was a lot of interest in extranets (in essence, private and secure areas of your web site) and many speakers mentioned them. Runner-up: "Web-enabled Technology" - lots of interest in browser-baser programs and browser-based front-ends to existing programs. It was difficult to find a software vendor who is not developing a web-based interface for its programs. Why? It saves training costs (users only have to know how to use a browser) and information can be accessed from almost any computer.