The Discovery Revolution
May 2007

Society stores information in a profoundly different way than it did in 1990. The change has affected commerce; everyday life and culture, and therefore, the world of law, which constantly must access and test societal information in its discovery processes.

Indeed, “physical” information storage reigned supreme for almost the entirety of civilization. As a result, our cultural systems have long incorporated certain assumptions about information: We have assumed that there were “original” records, that there were also “copies” of such originals, and that there were altered records, which were not to be considered “authentic.” The basic unit of information storage was usually referred to as a “document,” particularly if connoting a more formal informational record. The word dates back to the Latin documentum, meaning “proof.”

The “modern” form of business document can be said to have appeared in the 1870s, with the invention of the typewriter and its use with carbon paper. The resulting proliferation of paper led to new technologies for storing documents in the 1890s, including the vertical file cabinet and the Rand card index system, which together allowed efficient storage and retrieval of large numbers of documents. Records management techniques evolved, one could say “Please bring the file,” and a set of organized papers would promptly arrive. 

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