Merry Christmas and such from Morocco.
I've been here for 10 days now - my 4th trip to this country, and it's starting to feel familiar again. The police officers with their hand-me-down uniforms that look as if they were given to them by their mothers with the plan that they'd grow into them. The languages, the smells, the utter confusion of figuring out what to do in a hammam.
We're now in Chefchaouen, and have been here for a week or so. It's beautiful, calm, but freezing cold. After a few days of unpleasantness, we've now located a hotel with a fireplace and have gotten ourselves some custom tailored heavy wool clothes. All is good.
With that out of the way, onto the main point of this post:
I saw the news regarding the announce of Google Patent Search recently. This is extremely interesting, in that Google have been able to leverage their Book Search technology and used it to tap a large, useful database of information in the public domain.
The previous patent search website run by the USPTO & IBM was clunky, and slow. From a strategic intelligence and search privacy perspective, this is a fantastic/scary move.. Knowing which patents your competitors are looking at is very very useful information.
Which brings me to my prediction. A fantastic public domain body of information that is currently held hostage by pay-as-you go companies: Legal Opinions/Cases... I predict that Google will leverage its Book Search infrastructure, and begin scanning case law/history documents from court houses around the country. WestLaw and LexisNexis aren't particularly well loved by their users, and without a doubt, the public would certainly benefit from having all this information online and easily searched.
This kind of thing has already been done by the folks at Project Posner, putting online all of Judge Posner's legal opinions. Now, it's just an issue of scale - which Google can certainly take care of.
Small Print: I'm no longer a Google Employee, and have absolutely no inside knowledge of any projects like this at Google.