Let the Documents Speak ?to You
Now consider another approach to search, one that is more effective for these kinds of cases. Instead of simply questioning the documents about what you think you know, let the documents speak to you and tell you their secrets. While the technique I'm talking about is still based on search, the approach is different, and it can be far more effective when you are dealing with large volumes of documents and have no clear road map to follow.
Modern search engines collect data about documents that can help shed light on what they contain and how they relate to one another. For example, our e-discovery platform collects statistics about the metadata contained in the documents we index.
Thus, if I am looking at files obtained from a particular office or custodian, I can quickly glean a lot of helpful information about their contents without ever running a search. We can quickly see who was on the sending or receiving end of emails and see levels of interaction and activity among individuals. That information alone may give us some very helpful insights.
Likewise, you can use the system to look for the key concepts or terms that are being discussed within the bodies of a group of documents. Then, by ordering those terms by relevance or frequency, you can get important clues that will help you narrow your investigation and determine whether there is a legally relevant story hidden in the data.
Exploring Timelines and Relationships
Recent innovations in search and review technology are taking investigation to a whole new level. Along with standard field information about people and topics, the most advanced search platforms are providing investigators with new tools, such as timelines, to allow the documents to speak to them.
For example, using the timeline and the field facets in one of Catalyst's platforms, a searcher can manipulate a document collection to identify patterns in communications and dates. These tools, in effect, enable the documents to "speak," telling investigators their otherwise hidden stories.
The search can interact with the various facets or drill down into the timeline and instantly get a visual representation of ?how communications flowed between individuals, and in what sequence, during a particular timeframe. These visual representations can be of critical help in identifying dates and relationships warranting further inquiry.
These new tools also allow you to very quickly explore in a visual format that you can actively manipulate communications among individuals.
The program can be used to create an interactive diagram showing you to whom an author sent emails and the number of emails sent to each recipient. Clicking on any recipient will move that person to the center of the diagram, where you can instantly track each of his or her communications in the same way. Clicking on the numbers will enable you to immediately drill down to the actual emails.
The ability to move effortlessly between different views and different levels of detail is a powerful way to quickly decipher key relationships and communication patterns among individuals. This information could reveal relationships you had not been aware of or patterns of activity tied to key events. This is information you would never find using traditional keyword searching alone.