April 10, 1995
Over the last eight months, several people have asked why we decided to publish The Journal exclusively online. These concerns are not insignificant -- any embrace of a new technology should be made without blinders on. We were excited by the possibilities of publishing online, but the fears that we would not be taken seriously were very real. These fears have, however, been overcome by the enthusiasm which has greeted The Journal.
In November, after the eight of us (the founding Editorial Board - we have since expanded) made a presentation to the law faculty asking for approval of The Journal, we were unanimously approved. For a school that had just one scholarly publication for the last 40 years, the eager endorsement from the faculty was a welcome, if somewhat surprising, development.
With the benefit of hind-sight and experience, I can safely say that the benefits to electronic publication far outweigh any concerns we might have. Let me recount just a few examples:
On March 9, the First Circuit reversed the lower court in Lotus v. Borland. As soon as we realized this (the day before Spring Break no less), we quickly downloaded the opinion from Westlaw and updated all the cites in the three articles containing footnotes to this case. The significance of this cannot be overstated -- with a publication date set for April 10, the issue would have already been sent to a printer and we would have been unable to make the necessary changes to keep the article current.
Also on the day before Spring Break, Dan Burk sent me e-mail announcing that a Fed-Ex package was on the way. It appears that Dan realized that there was another component of his article that should be included. This was exactly one month before we were scheduled to publish, yet we were able to easily incorporate the additional 10 pages of material, spade and edit it and get it back to Dan in time for his feedback on our changes.
Finally, while doing a final edit of Dan's article, I checked out Adam Curry's Metaverse site for a needed break from editing. On one of Adam's pages, I noticed a small comment that said "The war is over. Don't ask cause I can't tell." I was pretty sure that this was in reference to the MTV v. Curry law suit, but was surprised that I hadn't heard any announcement to that effect on any of the discussion lists I subscribe to. After exchanging e-mail with Adam to confirm that the lawsuit was settled, we were able to find an Information Law Alert announcement made about two weeks ago. A quick e-mail to Dan appraised him of the change, we agreed on the revised wording in his article, and The Journal was again up to date.
The benefits don't just stop at the advantages it accords us, the publisher. The medium of the World Wide Web allows the reader to follow hypertext links to all ends of the world. By searching the web for related information to each article in The Journal, we have tried to show you just a sampling of the substantive information that is available out there.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign that electronic publication will be taken seriously is that we are not alone. As of this writing, the University of Michigan, B.U., Stanford University, Boalt Hall (U.C. Berkeley) and at least one other law school have plans for online law journals in various stages of development.
I can't wrap this letter up without thanking some very important people. Instrumental in this process has been Dean Joseph Harbaugh, the Dean of the Law School. It was Dean Harbaugh who initially supported the concept (enthusiastically, I might add) and it has been Dean Harbaugh who has gone to bat for us more than once. Receiving unanimous faculty approval without his help wouldn't have been possible, and doing the work on this issue without the two computers he donated to the cause would have been impossible.
Our advisor, Steve Hinckley, has been a continuous source of advice. Much of the design of The Journal can be traced directly to long discussions with Steve about how we should put this thing together, and I'm forever grateful for his help.
The Editors have proven that a group of close friends can work together, even in somewhat stressful conditions. None of us knew what we were getting into when we began this journey in August, but I think we are each better individuals for the trip. I have an immense amount of respect for each of them, and this project quite simply would not have happened without the individual contributions of each and every one.
The staff, who joined The Journal in January, performed admirably under ridiculously tight deadlines. That they delivered every assignment on time still boggles my mind. Looking back at all the work they have done, in addition to their other commitments both in and out of law school, I feel very fortunate to have had their help in this endeavor.
Ultimately this publication is for you, the reader. We are very interested in what you have to say - good or bad. Go to the contact page for more information about how to be a part of The Journal. I look forward to hearing from you.