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The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting interview with Michael Lewis (author of Liar's Poker and The New, New Thing) on the future of the Internet, here's the link for those who have access,

This is what he said about the effect of the Internet on doctors and lawyers,


Q: You say the Internet gives everyone equal access to information, thereby undermining the status previously held by professionals such as doctors and lawyers who traditionally have had privileged access. Does this mean people eventually won't need a doctor or lawyer, and will be able to treat their own diseases and argue their own cases in court?

A: [Laughs]. I was just on a radio show with a man who said that he had a doctor explain to him that he could teach anyone how to remove his own appendix in twenty minutes [laughs again]. Well now, that's taking it a little far. No, what I do think is that the first effect [of the Internet on doctors and lawyers] is to reduce mystique. ...

I think part of [medicine and law] will cease to be commercially viable because you can just get it for free from the Internet. ... Hell, I was being driven around London by a taxicab driver. I told him about the lawyer boy [Marcus Arnold], and he said, "Hot damnit, I just divorced my wife for 60 pounds!" I said, "How did you do that?"

He said, "Well, this lawyer wanted to charge me whatever it was -- some astronomical fee -- and I found a Web site that enabled me to do it all myself." So there's gonna be that kind of effect on the law and medicine.

There is a second effect, and it is to subject lawyers and doctors to a ruthless critical scrutiny [by] their customers. ... We just moved into a house in Berkeley, Calif. We were looking for doctors and there were these chat rooms devoted to saying which doctor is good, that sort of stuff. ...

The business probably becomes a bit more ruthlessly meritocratic and probably turns a bit more on customer relations. The doctor will sense that the patient can't just be cured, but he has to be happy about it so he goes on the Web site and says, "This doctor is a great doctor."

Q: Sort of like a "Consumer Reports" for doctors and lawyers?

A: You got it! But a much more thorough "Consumer Reports," because it's a lot of patients weighing in, not just one authority


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