Electronic Registry – the explosion of Gutenberg’s Galaxy and the electronic folium

Brazilian Public Registrars have found themselves at a terrible crossroads.

Pressured by economic and social need and reflecting an unsupressable trend, Registry Services in Brazil find themselves about to abandon the traditional atomized model of institutional organization inherited from the model conceived in the second half of the 19th century, and adopt a model that “moleculizes” the system.

This change is a repercussion of a transformation in the means of fixating registry information. The informational architecture of public registries, which is very traditional, will change substantially. We are rapidly abandoning the paradigm of paper-based registry, rushing through the intermediate phase of network computing (client/server) to delve into the brave new world of cloud computing and the consequent interconnection of public registries. With information migrating from the traditional folia to specialized databases, the cloaks of information will be shed to disclose gigantic portals that will transport public registries to new levels and directly into the 21st century. This change represents myriad challenges and great opportunities.

Electronic means tend to conform their own content. Marshal McLuhan’s phrase is well-known: the medium is the message. Technology is shaping a new Public Registry. Just as the invention of an admirable new world without the nautical marvels of Saracenic , Jewish and Christian cartographers congregated at the School of Sagres would have been impossible, so will it be impossible to colonize cyberspace without precise cartography, the work of professionals directly involved in the act of registry: real estate registrars themselves. This task is non-delegable.

But what do these professionals have to say with respect to the new electronic means and their impacts on their unique activity?

Nothing will remain of the traditional folia of titles, with information connected in narrative discourse of natural language, as it is changed to structured Registry, but linguistic debris. The registry will be structured and the inscription will be made based on the tendencies designated by information technology.

Like all transformation, the progressive destructuring/restructuring of real estate registry according to technological imperative could lead to equivocal concepts in the formation of a new registry system.

The process is replete with familiar difficulties. We run the risk of conceiving the Electronic Registry as merely a homologous reproduction of traditional inscriptions. But the phenomenon I have called McLuhan’s syndrome could occur: the impact of new technologies, especially the availability of new electronic means such as cloud computing tending to shape the registries themselves, giving them a new dimension. This could lead us, however, to the repetition of equivocations like the “speculative effects” of traditional registries replicated by digital means. The material limitations that hindered previous media are transported to new digital media in new, richer ways.

Marshall McLuhan studied some of these interesting phenomena in his book Understanding Media – The Extensions of Man (Cambridge: MIT, 1994. 365p.). The following passage synthesizes the phenomenon well: all forms of transportation (and digital means are nothing more than “hot” means of informational transport) not only conduct, but translate and transform the transmitter, the receptor and the message:

“Each form of transport not only carries, but translates and transforms, the sender, the receiver, and the message. The use of any kind of medium or extension of man alters the patterns or interdependence among people, as it alters the ratios among our senses” (p. 90)”.

“The medium is the message”. Electronic means, supporting our known registries and inscriptions, will tend to transform them substantially. The “content” of our digital means, however, can come to constitute themselves in other media—in the case of old registry books replicated homologically—unless we perceive their substantially distinct nature and can thereby break old paradigms.

In short, new electronic media will give birth to a new Real Estate Registry

Are you ready?

* Sérgio Jacomino. Former chief registrar in Brasil. Phd. Civil law.

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