Olympic Discuss

May 5, 2010

Discussion is not always positive. Certainly I can find the negatives in it.

For instance, if the discussion is in the context of ‘The collapse of the Hapsburg Empire was an inevitable product of changes in religious outlook. Discuss.’, the lazy schoolboy is unlikely to have warm fuzzy feelings about such a requirement, especially if he did not even know that Hapsburg had a theatre. A suggestion from your boss that there is something that he or she would like to discuss is unlikely to leave you speculating about how to spend your bonus, it is more likely to leave you asking yourself ‘What have I done?’ or ‘How did they find out?’ (or perhaps that’s just me). And a request for a ‘discussion’ in a personal relationship (‘can we meet tonight, there is something we need to discuss’) is too often a prelude to that traditional British ceremony, The Listing of the Faults (think Trooping the Colour, but with more drama), or even an invitation to a private execution. Discussion groups are an opportunity to analyse and extract meaning from pretentious works of art, or to confess sins and be applauded. Online discussion groups are for people who are into model railway parts and unspeakable sexual perversions – and thus are of no interest to lawyers, who rarely have time for one hobby let alone two.

But of course, discussion, and online discussion in particular, does have its positive side. I have whined about the absence of discussion on this site too often for it to be sensible for me to bore you with that lament again. But you can imagine my envious reaction to LinkedIn’s capacity to generate real discussions – for example, look {here: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/law-legal/corporate-law/intellectual-property/LAW_COR_IPP/667572-16618234}, where there are 16 views expressed. 16 comments would be a bonanza by the standards of the SCL site. The catch is that a lot of the views are pants and there is a temptation to self-promote. Moreover, I notice that the fun died in that discussion when Charles Russell partner Andrew Sharpe weighed in with a learned and sensible view. Don’t you just hate it when you are having a wide-ranging discussion about the budget deficit or immigration, preferably lubricated by alcohol, and someone joins in who clearly knows what they are talking about, sometimes even quoting accurate statistics? (I bet Messrs Brown, Cameron and Clegg were so relieved that it didn’t happen to them – don’t you wish their debates had been lubricated with alcohol?)

My envy remains notwithstanding the percentage of contributions that are unworthy of the bandwidth. When I look at LinkedIn and then look back at the SCL site, I see an untapped resource in the latter and, whether sensible or not, can only again lament the reluctance of SCL members to engage online. Heaven knows, there is no reluctance to exchange views in person at SCL events – a notable feature of SCL conferences and seminars is the value generated by contributions from the floor and the reaction they provoke from speakers and others. But if we look, say, at Paul Golding’s comment on the OGC negotiation guide {here: http://www.scl.org/site.aspx?i=ne16133} we get no further reaction, when perhaps it might have been the opportunity for SCL members to tell the OGC that they need to do better.

So, here’s my {i}last ever{/i} plea for more comments and responses from SCL members (the ‘last ever’ pledge is given with all the integrity and commitment associated with a pre-election promise). Please give in to the temptation to comment online and to respond to the comments of others. You can comment anonymously so it doesn’t have to be learned and researched just non-defamatory.