Saturday, April 23, 2011

Supreme Court Briefs Before Technology Took Over

In view of my post about writing theses before TeX, this article in Forbes by Ben Kerschberg on Remembering The Magic of Supreme Court Briefs Before Technology Took Over really resonated with me. Kerschberg remembers what it was like preparing briefs for the Supreme Court in the “old days” of 1995. In those times, briefs were still printed using hot-metal typesetting, an expensive and time consuming process. Although Kerschberg doesn't mention it, the Court had its own hot-metal press that they used to print opinions and even memos between the justices.

Kerschberg describes going to the printers when briefs came off the press to proof them. They always dressed casually because the proofs were still wet from the ink and they invariably got the ink all over themselves. As with the technical typing I described in my post, errors were extremely expensive because a single typo would mean that a whole line or even paragraph would have to be reset and reprinted. This, in turn, meant they would have to be reproofed for any additional errors that got introduced.

The article is interesting and worth a read. It's another reminder of how much technology has made our lives better. It's easy to bemoan the loss of the beautiful printing that hot-metal presses produced but no one misses the extra work it resulted in, even for those not involved with the printing itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment