Demographics and Their Search Implications: Breathing Room for Online Dinosaurs

April 25, 2009’s “The Technology Generation Gap at Work is Oh So Wide” pointed to a study that I had heard about but not seen. A happy quack to RW2 for the link the the LexisNexis results here. RW2 does a good job of summarizing the highlights of the research, conducted for this unit of Reed Elsevier, the Anglo Dutch giant that provides access to the US legal content in its for fee service. You can read Sarah Perez’s summary here.

I wanted to add three observations that diverge from the RW2 report and are indirectly referenced in the WorldOne Research 47 page distillation of the survey data and accompanying analysis. Keep in mind that the research is now about nine months old and aimed at a sample of those involved in the world’s most honorable profession, lawyering.

First, the demographics are bad news for the for fee vendors of online information. As each cohort makes it way from the Wii to the iPhone, the monetization methods, the expectations of the users, and the content forms themselves must be set up to morph without paying humans to fiddle.

Second, as I zoomed through the data, I came away convinced that lawyers’ perception of technology and mine are different. As a result, I think the level of sophistication in this sample is low compared to that of the goslings swimming in my pond filled with mine run off water. The notion that lawyers who are younger are more technologically adept may be little more than an awareness of the iPhone, not next generation text and content processing systems.

Third, the overall direction of the survey and the results themselves make it clear that it will be a while before the traditional legal information sources are replaced by a gussied up Google Uncle Sam, but it will happen.

My conclusion is that LexisNexis got the reassurance it wanted from these data. Is that confidence warranted as law firms furlough or rationalize staff, face clients who put caps on certain expenses, and look at the lower cost legal services available in the land of outsourcing, India.

Stephen Arnold, April 25, 2009


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