20120520-215126.jpgI’m writing this post from 36,000 feet on my way to Las Vegas for the annual CEIC (Computer Enterprise and Investigations Conference) that begins tomorrow at the Red Rock Resort in Summerlin, NV, ten miles off the Strip. Between my personal Scylla and Charybdis of e-discovery and digital forensics, I attend a ridiculous number of forensic technology conferences each year (merely ridiculous, as I cede “insane” to the Grand Dukes of EDD, the always avuncular Browning Marean and ever erudite Chris Dale). Some, like CEIC and New York LegalTech are big, bustling events in splendid venues that feel more like family reunions than trade shows. Others, like my trek to this Friday’s Appalachian Institute for Digital Evidence in Huntington, West Virginia, are intimate gatherings sized to local law enforcement and student budgets. Big event or small, I’m grateful to be invited to play my part in the educational components of them all.

But I confess that CEIC is one conference that I look forward to more than most. Sure, I love its alternate annual situs in Las Vegas and Orlando; but, the real draw to CEIC is the quality and breadth of its educational offerings and the collegiality of the mixed group of attendees: cops, techies, warriors, lawyers, judges and three-letter agency types (and a few booth babes–it’s Vegas after all). In recent years, CEIC has morphed from being a first class computer forensics conference to a world-class e-discovery event featuring the patriciate of EDD educators and commentators. Though it’s a corporate event, EnCase is far from the only product in evidence, and most sessions have no connection to Guidance Software’s products or services. I’ve never sensed any pressure to flog or ostracize particular products or services.

This year, I’m co-presenting on The Future of Social Media in E-Discovery with Chris Dale. For many, the challenge of social networking content as discoverable ESI evokes a shrug and a “What’s the big deal?” “Just save the page or do a screen shot,” they say. That may work when you’re dealing with one or two accounts (and not especially well, even then); but, when you’re dealing with ‘every broker in the firm’ or ‘all the plaintiffs in the class,’ opting for screen shots is the new “just print it all out.” To prepare, I’ve been closely studying the emerging options for collection, preservation, authentication, search, review and production of social media content, trying to identify the practical tools and techniques that will let us deal with social media as easily as we now manage e-mail.

If you’re at CEIC, I hope you’ll come by Monday from 4:30-6:00PM in the Trails room and ask us tough questions or share your helpful ideas. If you’re a forensic examiner or e-discovery colleague, I hope to see you in Summerlin this week–maybe buy you a beer or commiserate at the Blackjack tables. But be warned: What happens in Summerlin doesn’t stay in Summerlin. You’ll take away loads of new ideas, new skills and new friends!