> In a case pending before the United States District Court for the District of
> Rhode Island (in which Defendants are liable to pay the attorneys' fees of
> the successful plaintiff I represent in a constitutional rights case),
> Defendants have now attacked all time spent writing documents or researching
> using SGML and automated databases as "mere secretarial work" and "typing."
> I am preparing a response for the Court, and I would appreciate any comments
> or examples of accomplishments which will help the Court to distinguish what
> we all do from "typing."
Actually, your first two paragraphs contained a fairly compact explanation of
the distinction, which you should use in your argument.
This looks to me like a simple matter of the defence trading on the lack of
understanding of the court (and perhaps of their own) about the nature of text
storage and markup. It reminds me of the attacks on our use of SGML by some
visually-oriented, Macintosh-wielding colleagues who quite simply fail utterly
to understand why one would want to mark text in any way other than for pure
Perhaps the easiest notion, if the protagonists are in any way commercially
minded, is to identify the use of SGML with that of `added value'. Mere typing
is the mechanical replication of information from one form (paper, audio tape)
into another (paper, wordprocessor file) *without adding to its value*. You can
extent the analogy by examining the actions of a skilled and experienced
office (indeed, legal) typist who can take a practitioner's dictaphone tape
or scribbled notes and turn it into a presentable, legible document. This is
perhaps the half-way stage. Adding text markup enhances the value of the
document because of its subsequent improved utility in a retrieval system,
and so is not comparable with `mere' typing.
Has the judge ever written a legal textbook? Learned counsel might suggest to
M'Lud that the simple transcription of hir notes into plain typescript is
indeed mere typing: editing them and arranging them in chapters, sections etc
with footnotes, references and all epexegetic addenda is the process of markup.
I am reminded of the cartoon showing two aging (legal?) gentlemen in T-shirts
on the beach: one reads "Virginia is for lovers"; the other reads "Rhode
Island is for lawyers"...:-)