Number 6 of 21 for 21 – Timeline Virtual Court
Having been present when trial presentation technology was in its infancy in the mid-nineties, there are a good number of parallels and similarities I noted while watching a hybrid trial in April 2021.
Novelty is one. Most proceedings have that moment (or those moments) when someone expresses any number of emotions that this “new” way of operating evokes. Wonder, frustration, curiosity, confusion to name a few. The medium may not be the message, but it plays a part in how that message is conveyed. Attention is rapt because it’s new, but also because there’s a lot to process that isn’t covered in “Law & Order” marathons. As one example, a timeline was displayed during a recent opening statement on small screens around the room. Due to distanced setup, each screen was difficult to see. Remote viewers saw the visual on one quadrant of their screens.
The timeline chart was displayed all at once (meaning no use of animated steps to reveal the information as the attorney was noting it during his presentation) with heavy red boxes atop each entry stem that merely listed the date (white text on red) and then the event. If you’ve seen one, you’ve quite literally “seen ‘em all.” Default white background, heavy blue title bar with white text. The events, likely meant to help tell the plaintiff story, all worked like a rock in a sandbox when one is trying to understand specific grains. The information had the same impact, like a thud to this observer rendering all of the entries frankly moot.
At the very least, if one is using a timeline to help tell a story in this physically distant, virtual environment, when myriad considerations are all about you, take the time to interact with the visual. Describe it for redundancy and reveal it for interactivity one step at a time.