Computer-Generated Literature?

Like all of us, I sometime lament the state of legal writing, particularly of the academic sort. It is often so laden with detail (each one meticulously footnoted) that the reader can’t find the main point. But I think I may finally have stumbled on the culprit.

Philip Parker, a business professor, has developed a computer program that crawls through the internet gathering information from publicly available sources, and puts the information into book form. He then prints the books on demand and sells them through So far he’s generated more than 200,000 books.

Not surprisingly, the reviews aren’t stellar. Only one reader is quoted in the article, but he describes the book he read as “awful and frustrating”. Mr. Parker himself admits that “If you are good at the Internet, this book is useless.”

I have to say, I’m amused by the thought of a couple of computers somewhere in the world churning out law review articles. Give the machine a keyword, a couple of dates, a Quicklaw password, and get a summary of the law in a couple of minutes. And a tailor-made excuse for the quality of the writing. The only problem I foresee is figuring out what to do with the army of first and second year students who are normally paid to do this work for their professors.

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