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Parchment, Paper, Pixels

Law and the Technologies of Communication

Technological revolutions have had an unquestionable, if still debatable, impact on culture and society—perhaps none more so than the written word. In the legal realm, the rise of literacy and print culture made possible the governing of large empires, the memorializing of private legal transactions, and the broad distribution of judicial precedents and legislation. Yet each of these technologies has its shadow side: written or printed texts easily become static and the textual practices of the legal profession can frustrate ordinary citizens, who may be bound by documents whose implications they scarcely understand.

Parchment, Paper, Pixels offers an engaging exploration of the impact of three technological revolutions on the law.  Beginning with the invention of writing, continuing with the mass production of identical copies of legal texts brought about by the printing press, and ending with a discussion of computers and the Internet, Peter M. Tiersma traces the journey of contracts, wills, statutes, judicial opinions, and other legal texts through the past and into the future.

Though the ultimate effects of modern technologies on our legal system remain to be seen, Parchment, Paper, Pixels offers readers an insightful guide as to how our shifting forms of technological literacy have shaped and continue to shape the practice of law today.

 


256 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Language and Linguistics: Language and Law

Law and Legal Studies: General Legal Studies, Legal Thought

Reviews

Tiersma’s historical perspective is invaluable, his analysis of the present eye-opening, and his recommendations for the future provocative. No one I know of is in a better position than he to analyze the topics treated in this volume and to explore their implications for the practice of law.”

Edward Finegan, University of Southern California

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

1 Introduction

2 Speech, Writing, and Text

3 Wills

4 Contracts

5 Statutes

6 Judicial Opinions and the Concept of Precedent

7 Conclusion

Notes

Index

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