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Mike Tarrani
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Saturday, March 30, 2002


Life imitating ... life. Mike's recent entries here and in Notes from the Field have been heavily focused on contract law. I cannot resist using the following quote as a lead-in:
A learned County Court judge in a book of memoirs recently said that the overwhelming amount of his time on the bench was taken up 'with people who are persuaded by persons whom they do not know to enter into contracts that they do not understand to purchase goods that they do not want with money that they have not got.'
Credit goes to Lord Greene, about whom I know nothing except the above is attributed to him. What Lord Green says, however, goes to the essence of contracts in general and aptly sums up software development contracts.

Opportunities Abound. What I most like about writing here and in Notes from the Field is the frequent opportunity to meld my knowledge and skills with what Mike and Linda discuss. Such an opportunity presents itself today. As a competitive intelligence specialist one of the knowledge areas that is important to my profession is law. The practice of law is left to the attorneys; however, understanding the fundamental issues is necessary when one is gathering raw intelligence and transforming it into processed intelligence and knowledge. The scope of understanding includes principles and processes.

A Matter of Principle. Intellectual property is a core area for intelligence gathering and analysis, which makes Basic Principles of Patent Law a key knowledge area. Patent and contract law have radically changed since the web's growth in popularity and the business focus on e-commerce. I've put together a Zip archive of documents and presentations about E-contracts as a basic primer on a wide-ranging subject. The field is ever changing, so do not base any decisions on knowledge or sources other than from an attorney who specializes in this practice of law. You can, however, gain sufficient understanding of the issues through selected reading. One book I recommend is CyberRegs: A Business Guide to Web Property, Privacy, and Patents by Bill Zoellick. I reviewed this book on Amazon on 8 November 2001 and Mike reviewed it on 25 September 2001. It's interesting to read our two completely different perspectives, both of which are valid, of the book.

An interesting paper that integrates contract and knowledge management factors is titled An Incomplete Contracts Theory of Information, Technology and Organization, which discusses information as an asset (which it certainly is) and contested ownership of the information. This paper cuts across a number of disciplines, including law, knowledge management, and human resources.

Processes. Mike has gathered a wealth of documents and links about contracting and/or outsourcing software development. If you want to see what happens when things go wrong (and they often do in our litigious society), read The Anatomy of a Software Lawsuit. Since litigation occurs despite the best efforts and intentions of all parties it will behoove you to gain an understanding of the underlying process.