I just came from a presentation on Westlaw Next (good review here) which already rolled out for lawprawfs and which our students will be learning about within a few weeks. I already had some limited experience with Westlaw Next, mostly because searches from my Westlaw welcome screen took me straight into the service. Overall, I'm impressed. The requirement to search in a specific database to find what you're looking for has gone by the wayside, and searches are now more Google-like. In a little more than one week's worth of use I've already discovered new sources that I never realized were available within Westlaw...very cool. Also, if you edit cases for a seminar or casebook, the downloads into Word or RTF are much cleaner and easier to edit.
Some of the other features are the ability to highlight cases and add sticky notes to them. You can save your research to research folders and sub-folders, and there is an enhanced copy with reference feature that will put your copied text into a (rough) BlueBook format. If you get the chance to go to your Westlaw rep's presentation I recommend it. Plus, you get free food and a free mug which is the real reason I'm writing this post.
Here is the new magical Westlaw mug.
What is so magical about it? Well here's what the paper insert I found in the mug says:
Your tumbler was crafted using a unique, FDA, CFA approved advanced technology which combines popular plastic materials with an additive called BIO-GPS. When supplemented to the plastic resins, your Tumbler fully maintains its mechanical properties and shelf life. When disposed of, communities of microorganisms, which are present almost everywhere on this planet, break down the plastic construction into stable, organic matter in only 1-5 years!
HOW DOES MY TUMBLER DO THAT?
As soon as you discard your Tumbler into a microbial environment the process starts! A swelling agent begins to weaken the plastic's molecular composition. Next, a combination of bio-active compounds attracts colonies of microorganisms. The weakened plastic structure is no match for the microorganisms which are able to completely digest and neutralize the remaining matter. The residual non-toxic residue is completely harmless to the environment and living organisms.
This thing automagically disintegrates. Now of course, I'm skeptical and perhaps a little concerned. How does the tumbler know when it is disposed of? It seems the trigger for break-down is "communities of microorganisms" and those things exist "almost everywhere on this planet." I'm no scientist, but I'm guessing that my office is on this planet, and I'm thinking it has some microorganisms present. (Consider this report "What's 100 Times Dirtier Than A Toilet?" Here's a hint, it starts with a "your" and ends in "keyboard"). According to scientists, there are four hundred times more bacteria on a desktop than on most toilet seats. Yuck! So the automagical Westlaw Next mug seems great for the environment...until it disintegrates halfway through your morning latte.
Tune in 1-5 years from now for an updated photo of the disintegrating mug.
UPDATE: Over at The Glom David Zaring also has some initial thoughts on Westlaw Next.