Protecting Knowledge

In a week and a day, Nevada steps up with a new law requiring encryption of electronically transmitted personal information. NRS 597.970 Restrictions on transfer of personal information through electronic transmission. [Effective October 1, 2008.]

1. A business in this State shall not transfer any personal information of a customer through an electronic transmission other than a facsimile to a person outside of the secure system of the business unless the business uses encryption to ensure the security of electronic transmission. Leaving the discussion of the technical and legal aspects of this new law to others, I find this new law refreshing in a number of ways. Lawyers and regulators love to ramble about protecting clients' knowledge but balked when it comes to actually imposing defined methods and duties. Where state bars and courts soft-peddle the duty, the State of Nevada has taken a much stronger stance. More importantly, this new law recognizes the unsecure nature of the Internet and looks at knowledge (personal information in this case) as an asset to be protected. I like this angle. We talk about KM but do not usually recognize that the "M" is management and good management means good protection. I predict the Nevada law will see various challenges in the near future, but welcome dialogue on this vital KM issue.

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My co-blogger Greg has already posted a great list of DR lessons, so I thought I would add a thought of my own. My DR/KM recommendation is for an organization, instead of individuals. For the duration of Ike and his aftermath, I have lived electronically on my BlackBerry. I tried not to complain too much, since I at least had access to information. But it became very apparent not many resources are well-tuned for mobile access. I know my other co-blogger Lisa may take issue with this comment as she goes to great lengths to format websites for mobile viewing. Even though they are viewable, they are not very WAP friendly, as navigation and browsing are tedious. And beyond web sites, I could have benefited from mobile access to systems and information. Although I was able to limp along and BS my way through many tasks, I wasn't able to really live on my BB. For KM, I think we need to look ahead and move more purposely in a WAP direction. What good is knowledge if it's not accessible when I need it most?

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Disaster Recovery -- What I Learned From Ike

The good news is that all of the geeks are alive and well after Ike.  The great news is that one of us got to actually go on a vacation and left the other two to pick up the virtual limbs left on our blog.
Here are just some quick things I learned from Ike:
  1. If you are not directly effected by a disaster, you truly don't know the frustration that occurs with trying to do the simplest of tasks.
  2. If your IT department is in another city, they will attempt to 'test' your system during the crisis, and forget that you need access to your communication tools.  (Like taking down email access over the weekend to 'test' a new product.)
  3. If the power comes on across the street, you will learn to despise your neighbors (most of whom you've never met before.)  It also means that it will be days before the electric company gets around to restoring power to your home!
  4. Your neighbor, that you thought was the dumbest one on the block, is the only one smart enough to have bought a generator in advance of the storm.  
  5. You have a lot of really nice people in your neighborhood.
  6. You have an old lady in your neighborhood that you've never met before, but she still yells at everyone to get off her lawn (even though you're removing all of the branches from it.)
  7. It is good to have family.
  8. It is good to have friends.
  9. You learn that by acting locally, you affect so many, and it can make a difference on a regional scale.
  10. Text Messaging (SMS) is great, but not fail-proof.
  11. My Amazon Kindle was a surprising resource with its basic web service.
  12. Twitter was nice to let my friends know how I was fairing.
  13. My power inverter that I bought for my car (so the kids could watch movies on trips) is a great tool to power a few items (like a fan and other low-powered things.)
  14. Pool water can help refill the toilet tank!!
  15. Next time there is a hurricane coming this way, I'm buying ice four-days in advance!!
  16. I'm a lucky guy to have friends, family and neighbors that helped keep me sane through it all!
  17. There are still other friends and neighbors that are out there that need a little help to keep sane through it all.
  18. It is good to be home!

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I Like Ike... Well, Not Really... But, I Get To Twitter Away The Weekend!

In case you didn't know this, all the geeks on this Blog are based out of beautiful warm and sunny Houston, Texas (oh, okay....  hot and humid Houston - but it is still beautiful!)  And, unless you've been under a rock, we have a little hurricane coming down on us in the next couple of days.
This brings me to the "geeky" part of the posting.  How does one stay in contact with others during these type of natural disasters??  When California had its earthquake a couple of months ago, the cell phones went out, but the land line phones stayed operational.  That just kind of goes against what I thought would happen.  And, because I'm all geeky, I don't have a land line at my house, so I'm assuming that the cell phone towers will be the first thing to fail during the storm.
So, how does one communicate with no land line and no cell phone service??  According to Ernie the Attorney, the answer is "Twitter."  
I thought I'd try this out during Gustav, but that storm went east of us.  But, it looks like we're dead on for a nice little bout of rain and wind with Mr. Ike, so I'll get to put Twitter to the test.
If you have nothing else to do, or you have some sick morbid sense of humor and want to follow the situation through IKE, you can follow my "Twittering"!!  

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MicroSoft Has a Commercial about Nothing . .

There was a lot of hulla-baloo today about MicroSoft's latest attempt to recapture the market after Apple achieved wide appeal with its PC v Mac ads.

Following the theme of the famed Seinfold show, Jerry Seinfeld's presence assures that this commercial is about nothing.

Lots of critics that it was unfunny. Not I. A giggle did escape . . .

A thanks to my proverbial right-hand woman, Whitney Palmer, for spotting this story. More thoughts on the commercial can be read here:


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The Magic of Advertising

A devotee of Mad Men, I found this recent article on the Psychology Today blog fascinating. Discussing perceived value and branding, it sells us on the value of ideas.


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Link Steroids -- Gimme the Juice!

Search Engine Optimization is a constant game of cat and mouse between the Search Engine companies and the webmasters of the world.  Seems like last week, one of the biggies on the webmaster side got caught by the biggie on the search engine side, and in the process, I learned a new industry phrase called "link juicing."  Now, I'm sad to say that all of those first page links out there may need to have an *asterisk* placed beside them.
The story goes like this:
1.  Findlaw, due to its being owned by Thomson Reuters, and being a highly visited web site, gets a special ranking by Google, and in turn, Google promotes links found on Findlaw to a higher ranking (thus pushing some law firms higher on the results page than others.)
2.  Seems that Google asks for those websites like Findlaw to tag any advertised links as such, and the ranking for these links will get downgraded and will keep the "true" links at the higher ranking.
3.  Findlaw allegedly was selling "high-octane" links on its site to law firms and others promoting the links as a way to increase traffic to the firms' sites at the tune of $2,000 a month.
4.  Loose lips (emails) at Findlaw's sales team, sent out an email that promoted this in a way that caught the attention of Google.
5.  Google then lowered Findlaw's ranking in its PageRank.
6.  Findlaw apologized, tagged the links as "paid links" and Google then returned Findlaw's higher PageRank value.
7.  whew...
8.  Now, I'm sure there are going to be some law firms lining up for a refund.
Legal Technology Blog is adding information on this story as it comes out.
I'm assuming that the Search Engine Optimization team at Thomson Reuters is going back to the drawing board and determining how they can leverage their highly ranked websites like Findlaw against the search engines out there in order to sell those links again.  If Google and other search engines are finding ways to test for  "link juicing," then I'm sure the webmasters are out there finding the next method to work around the testing.  

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Legal KM Blog Review

At the ILTA conference I was introduced to 3 different legal KM blogs of note. They are: Caselines has a Litigation KM angle to it (but not e-discovery - which is good). I saw David Hobbie present on Litigation KM - which is his thing at Goodwin Proctor. Good presentation showing great KM implementation. Nice KM blog to watch. KM Space, which is the blog of Doug Cornelius. I also saw Doug present, then noticed him in a number of sessions with his laptop open. He was blogging live from the sessions. Cool stuff and nicely thought-out posts. LawyerKM is the last one. This blog included live ILTA posts as well, but the author shows as anonymous (with a little effort you can find his name). Being at a large firm, I can understand that approach. In any event, another well-written legal KM blog to follow.

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Muffin Tops and Fertility

Rachel Beckman, a staff writer for the Washington Post, writes a hysterical commentary on Facebook advertising: Facebook Ads Target Where It Hurts

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Convergence is the Word

Although this time convergence is not in-house counsel cutting its number of outside firms, its software providers cutting the number of platforms they work on. One example is the partnership announced at the ILTA conference between Interwoven and Lexis. The two are combining their products into one offering Lexis is calling "Lexis Search Advantage." This combines the intelligence of Total Search with the enterprise search power of IUS. As Doug Stansfield noted in their announcement meeting, this creates a unique combination of Work Product Retrieval with Enterprise Search. IUS allows you to search multiple data sources, then Search Advantage applies its legal value-add of marking up the results with case citations and Shepardizations. On its own, this combination is interesting. But it is also reflective of the industry moving towards converged platforms and systems. Large firms especially these days struggle with supporting too many platforms and search engines. So this trend is welcome relief. After seeing more demos than one person should in the span of four days, I can see this trend taking shape in many corners of the market. Both Interwoven and Lexis separately talked about taking all of their products and moving them towards "unified platforms." This effort will not happen overnight, but the path is clear. I suppose now it will just become a race among the various vendors. Being last in this game will probably be quite expensive.

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More on LinkedIn and Lexis

After not seeing much value in the Martindale-Hubbell - LinkedIn deal and after waiting (and not alone) to see more value come from social networking, I admit Lexis may be on to something. What many of us have been waiting to see is some definable business value to come from social networking. There is some value in building up your network, but leveraging those connections into a business proposition has much greater value. LexisNexis owns the InterAction CRM software, having purchased Interface Software. They announced at the ILTA conference that the next release of InterAction (Version 5.6 SP1) will include LinkedIn functionality. Contacts within InterAction can include LinkedIn icons which will pull in the LinkedIn tools, focused on how you and those you know are connected to the contacts. This adds the power of social networks directly into a CRM application. This new connection between InterAction and LinkedIn equals business value. Some firms will be challenged by this value. Social Networks are not universally valued by firms, as they can threaten IT and data security. And they challenge the dogmatic hoarding of contacts by many lawyers. Whatever a firm's point-of-view, overlooking tools that bring value to your firm and clients is not good business.

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Google Chrome (Browser) Released Early

Of course, being a geek, I have to love the fact that Google releases a comic book to explain its new browser. Google Chrome, Google's new Internet Browser, is set for an early release tomorrow, due to the fact that some within Google leaked the information out a little earlier than planned.
From the comic book, and the blog release, it sounds like they are promising the same type of performance that IE 8.0 Beta is also promising. Tab functions that are "independant" (so if one crashes, it doesn't bring down the entire browser); more powerful JavaScript engine; make it work on all operating systems (you know those other than Windows!); and the ultimate promise of faster and cleaner regardless of your operating system.
Now I get to try out IE 8.0 and Google Chrome and test them side-by-side!
NOTE:  I downloaded Chrome today, and so far, it is pretty tasty!!  The only thing I don't like so far is how it handles MS Outlook's Webmail.  The folders are not displayed like they are in IE, and it is not very good to get from folder to folder very easily.  
However, it is very fast, and I love the tabs feature and the way it previews the nine most visited sites on a new tab.  There are also a few plug-ins (i.e., FLASH) that you'll need to get for Chrome to work right on most sites, but the downloads are quick and no reboot is necessary (unlike some browsers....)
I also thought it was funny that one of the Google Beta products called "Lively" will not work at all in Chrome.  You'd think they'd make their own products work right out of the box!

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"InPrivate" Browsing offered by New IE 8.0 -- Skewing Internet Browsing Stats??

[From our friends at Hogan & Hartson] "Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 InPrivate Browsing May Affect Online Activities." On August 25, 2008, Microsoft announced on its Internet Explorer Blog that Internet Explorer 8, for which Beta 2 was released on August 27, 2008, included a new suite of features designed to limit the information stored or shared when users browse the Internet. Collectively referred to as InPrivate and described in greater detail in Trustworthy Browsing – Guidance for Third Party Content Providers (rev. August 21, 2008), a whitepaper distributed by Microsoft to select web publishers and content providers, these new features include Deleting Browser History, InPrivate Browsing, InPrivate Blocking, and InPrivate Subscriptions. If these new features are successfully implemented as they are presently described in Microsoft’s documents, they may have a significant impact on a number of common Internet business practices, including online behavioral marketing and web traffic analytics. August 28, 2008 [View Article]

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LinkedIn Groups Enhanced on Friday!

LinkedIn is expanding the capabilities of its Group Networks by adding some enhancements. Here is the email that I got on Tuesday. NOTE: The enhancements are ready until FRIDAY!! (I missed that part of the message and started yelling at my computer screen when I couldn't find the enhancements.) Here's the announcement: First, thank you for managing your group on LinkedIn. We sincerely appreciate the time and effort you devote to your members, and we know they value it. Together you have made Groups one of the top features on LinkedIn.

This Friday, we will be adding several much-requested features to your group:

  • Discussion forums: Simple discussion spaces for you and your members. (You can turn discussions off in your management control panel if you like.)
  • Enhanced roster: Searchable list of group members.
  • Digest emails: Daily or weekly digests of new discussion topics which your members may choose to receive. (We will be turning digests on for all current group members soon, and prompting them to set to their own preference.)
  • Group home page: A private space for your members on LinkedIn.

We're confident that these new features will spur communication, promote collaboration, and make your group more valuable to you and your members. We hope you can come by LinkedIn on Friday morning to check out the new functionality and get a group discussion going by posting a welcome message.

Sincerely, The LinkedIn Groups Team

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I'm Skipping 7... going straight to (IE) 8

Well, it looks like I'm going to skip over another one of the Microsoft upgrades. Although I've used Internet Explorer almost exclusively since 1996, I somehow didn't get to use the 7.0 version at work because of the amount of "customizations" that we made on the IE 6 platform.
Now it is time for IE 8. I'm going to run home tonight and install it on my personal computer, and then see how many of my apps don't work on it either!! There is a good review of the product on the NY Times blog today.
I'm pretty sure if IE 7 didn't play nice with my 'work' apps, then 8 surely can't plug all the holes! So, now I'm going to have to have an "over-under" bet with some of my IT friends to see how many more months I'll have to stay on IE 6. If it is '12', then I'm taking the over!

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CI Oversight - Paranoia and Limits

Wow... there is a great "conversation" going on in the Competitive Intelligence world over the ethical requirements that law firms should require their CI professionals to uphold. Melissa Ruman Steward, Shareholder in Winstead's Dallas office, penned a NLJ article this week as a response to Ann Lee Gibson's article on 45 CI Tips for Law Firms. Steward suggests that law firms need to step up and proactively create a code of CI Conduct, or even go as far as having the state bar association create the code of CI conduct. Gibson has already come back with a pretty strong rebuttal to Steward's article. I blogged earlier about whether a CI professional could actually be brought up on criminal charges using 18 USC §1030, and discussed the ethical vs. illegal line that CI pros come up against. I think that Steward seems to be a little behind the curve on what is involved in Competitive Intelligence gathering, but she's not without merit in her arguments either. Lawyers don't exactly have the greatest of reputations when it comes to "ethics" (after all, ethics is the shortest class we take in law school). Therefore, her argument that law firms should hold themselves to a higher level of "ethical" competitive intelligence gathering is a legitimate argument. In my opinion, the shifting of this "code of CI ethics" to a regulatory body such as the state bar association seems to be a little bit of an overreaction at this point. Again, we talked about the fact that CI professionals in the legal environment usually hit the "ethical" line long before they hit the "legal" line when it comes to CI information gathering. But, it wouldn't take too many cases of law firms arguing that "what we did was perfectly legal" to start blurring the lines and causing CI professionals to become insensitive to the "ethical" line. Taking arguments like Stewart's too lightly could backfire in the end. My suggestion: It wouldn't hurt for firms to have a CI Ethics Code for their organization and make it understood that CI professionals should be very conscious of the firm's ethical line, and make sure that it is never crossed.

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