Digital Dirt

March 18, 2009

The Google Mistrial—A New Check and Balance

Filed under: Digital Footprint Trends — Tags: , , , , , — Danny Petre @ 8:21 am

justice_scale

Obama’s wish is coming true: transparency in government is here. That is, transparency in the courtroom. As reported on the front page of the New York Times today jurors are using web technology on cell phones (and some using the internet at home) to do outside research on the trial they are sitting in on. Often, the information that jurors find would have been dismissed by the judge for some reason or another.

It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges. –NYTimes.com.

So the question is: in the era of consumerism, should digital information (digital footprints if you will) be as a source of information for jurors to form their opinion? Who’s to say, besides the judge of course, that information found on Wikipedia isn’t a ligament way to inform arguments on all sides of a trial? We have allowed video cameras in the courtroom many times before (think OJ Simpson saga) why can’t jurors post Twitter updates to inform their “followers” of the courtroom happenings?

Granted I’m not a legal expert but it seems to me that today we are continuing to see a shift from government and business control of information (e.g. speaking to the public) to an age of consumerism (e.g. the publics willing consumption of information). Government needs to begin to understand he power that various technologies give the public. President Obama did with his campaign and continues to do so in office. (That was the first time I wrote “President Obama” and it felt really good!) Brands that realize that they are not “brand managers” but consumers are will be better off in the future.

Our illustrious professor, Jim Eiche, reminds us that brands are “a reputation.” Today that reputation lives online as we read consumer reviews, search for information, and seek the opinions of our friends. To me, this is the true democratization of information and it is essential to our lives… even if we are jurors.

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