This is the final post in a three-part series by MetaJure co-founder Kevin Harrang about just plain cool technology that’s inspiring how we think about improving the practice of law. If you missed the first two installments, check out How to Remember Everything You’ve Ever Read and A Legal Tech Lesson from our Kids.
One of my favorite books isn’t about the marvels that science can explain, but rather those it cannot. 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense, The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks is a fascinating read because it shows how many fundamental things remain unexplained (at least in any thorough scientific sense).
There are chapters entitled Death (evolution’s problem with self-destruction), Sex (there are better ways to reproduce), and perhaps my favorite, The Placebo Effect (who’s being deceived?). If you don’t think science writing can be as entertaining as informative, you haven’t read much from Michael Brooks.
Anyway, this inspired me to write my own list of things that make no sense to me:
- Car Keys: How come I can authenticate myself to my email, cloud storage, shopping websites, and my online bank account—which incidentally I used to buy my car—with a fingerprint or password, but I need to remember where I put my keys before I drive my car somewhere? Losing keys at the beach is also a problem (don’t ask how I know this).
- Insurance Cards. Forty-seven states require car owners to carry liability insurance (note to self: avoid driving in Virginia, Mississippi, and New Hampshire). In Washington State, for example, insurance companies must send out paper proof-of-insurance cards every six months, which you’re required by law to carry in your car. This technology is roughly on par with the rotary phone. I sent an email to our state’s insurance commissioner asking whether we could do better than this, and was told that it sounded like something I should take up with the motor vehicles department. Sigh…
- HIPAA Privacy Practice Notices. Okay, I’m not an expert on this, but somehow I suspect that the millions of HIPAA privacy notices that have been sent out (and immediately round filed) represent a historic low in terms of cost-benefit. Like insurance cards, it’s a mystery to me why we can’t improve this.
- Document Management Systems. Speaking of improvements, computer hardware and software technology has evolved like no other products in history. That is, except for one category: document management. If you’ve ever worked someplace that has one of these systems, you know what I mean. You’re supposed to manually re-save all your documents in this other system, and fill out a profile for each one. And did I mention that these systems typically don’t accommodate email or attachments? Somehow, everyone has gotten used to this, and few of us wonder why we can find things in the nearly infinite expanse of the Internet, but not in our organizations.
- Premium Cupcakes: Finally, if many things are broken, there are some things that don’t need fixing. Case in point, the cupcake. I love cupcakes (Who doesn’t?), but making them the size of Frisbees and layering on four inches of frosting doesn’t make them premium cupcakes, it just makes them too big with too much frosting. If you want that much cupcake, just eat two (hopefully while no one is looking).
If any of these strike a chord, please send me your own nominations for things that don’t make sense or leave your comments below.
Kevin Harrang is a founder of MetaJure, which makes next-generation smart document management technology. He would prefer not to say how many premium cupcakes he sampled in researching this post.
Are you kidding? Keys make perfect sense. Regardless, newer cars with biometric authentication exist already. Not sure I understand what your issue is with insurance cards – what exactly is your proposed alternative. Oh, and for the DMS, uh, what DMS are you using and what year is it where you live? You haven’t had to fill-out a profile or “re-save” anything since 2004.
Thank you very much for the comment, somehow posted from the future—where I’m relieved to know that no one ever loses their keys because cars are started (not merely unlocked) biometrically, governments have databases of insureds so they don’t have to waste money sending out millions of paper cards every six months, and best of all, document management systems automatically include every file in your organization without you having to lift finger. Oh wait…that last one already exists!
PS If you could travel back in time to 2016 and invest in a few stocks, could you mention them in your next post?