11/17/09

Finally... Competition Returns To The Legal Research World!

Many of you have probably seen the Tweets going around this morning about how Google Scholar has entered into the legal research arena. I have to say that I'm initially thrilled with the idea that after 15 to 20 years of legal vendor consolidation, that we may actually be on the cusp of reintroducing some serious competition.
With major players like Google, Bloomberg and even the ABA jumping into the online legal research arena, the big boys (Westlaw and Lexis - or collectively known as "Wexis") should be, as one of my esteemed colleagues puts it - "soiling their pants right now." Of course, I've mentioned in the past that pushing out case law is one thing, but adding value and authority to those works is why we keep Wexis around. There do seem to be some attempts at challenging the Wexis authority, especially from Bloomberg (via adding their own headnote system), and through the ABA Federal Opinion Summaries.
It seems that Erik Gerding over at The Conglomerate has been anticipating the competition by asking the questions:
  1. When will Google take on Bloomberg?
  2. When will either take on Lexis and Westlaw?
Perhaps Erik can look back in his crystal ball and let us know how this will all pan out.
There is a lot of buzz and excitement going around in the legal research field this morning about the Google Scholar announcement. Internet for Lawyers put out this review of the new Google Scholar resource. Carl Malamud even jumped in with a comment about how well Google Scholar is citing the Federal case law.
Although we are just at the beginning stages of all of these resources, it is nice to see a little competition coming back to the online legal research world! I, for one, welcome it!

Bookmark and Share

11/16/09

If I Throw a Google Wave Party... And No One Shows Up??

Last week, Toby and I dove into the clean waters that is know as Google Wave. I say that it is the "clean" waters of Google Wave because most people I know have barely stuck a toe in - and most of them immediately pulled that toe back out.
There has been article after article of how Google Wave is going to replace email; that Wave how email would be if we could start all over again; how Wave better to communicate via Google Wave for conferences rather than Twittering about it; or, that Wave 'Gadgets' are going to be the iPhone 'App Store' of the future. From what I've seen so far... it is a whole lot of chatter by a bunch of dreamers, and very little actual success.
I've sent invites to some of my technology co-workers and friends only to be told that they simply do not have the time to mess with such a product, or have absolutely no interest in trying to learn Wave. I even tried to get some interaction going last week by creating a Wave to monitor the Journalism and New Media Ecology conference being held at Yale Law. I had two people join in, and one of them was my co-blogger, Lisa. Either people were not interested in the conference topic (which I doubt), or the struggle of understanding how to use Wave in an effective way was too much of a hurdle for most people to try to jump over.
The reason for the lack of success so far has been two-fold:
  1. Google Wave looks like it is still in Alpha testing phase, much less the Beta testing it is claiming (think Linux, pre-1999)
  2. Simply not enough people are engaging the product or each other
I'm usually a big supporter of Google, and I like a lot of what they have done over the past few years in expanding the Internet to include actual applications rather than just information retrieval. But, let's face it, this isn't the first time that Google has attempted to replace desktop business applications with cloud-based products (Gmail, and Google Docs) with varying degrees of success. Both of these products are "good" products, but neither have exactly caused Microsoft's Outlook or Word to become obsolete. It seems like Google Wave might be following the same path as the Google Docs products -- great personal programs, but not ready for the Enterprise Level.
Here are some of my suggestions:
  1. Open up more invitations (there are just too few people in this test... and most of them have participated very little)
  2. Stop with the 80 minute presentations on how Wave is so cool, and give me 3 minute "how-to" videos
  3. Navigating through a Wave has to be more intuitive - if you are not glued to the Wave screen, it is too hard to understand what new items have been added since you last visited the Wave
  4. Make Wave Gadgets (Apps) easier to find and use -- if the Gadgets are the future of Wave, then make it easy for me to find and use them!!
  5. The "Search" portion of Wave is horrible!! For God sakes, Google... you're a Search Engine company.... make the search portion as easy as it is on Google!!
  6. Allocate more power to the back-end of Wave -- Wave is becoming slow... and getting slower. Try going through the "playback" function on a Wave that has a couple of hundred different communications in it. When I have... I find it to be extremely S L O W ! ! !
Wave is a great idea that is wrapped in a frame of confusion. Google has succeeded in the past by making products that are simple yet effective for the person using it. With Wave, so far at least, it accomplishes neither.

Bookmark and Share

11/13/09

Friday Fun - My Fantasy Search Engine

I've been thinking about my fantasy search engine would look like, and somehow when I saw this Miller Lite commercial it hit me on what I want my search engine to do. Watch this 30 second ad... then stay with me as I explain....
Until the guy raises the beer, it looks like an e E-Harmony commercial, right?? That's what got me thinking.
[Note: Suspend your 'privacy' fears for a few minutes and think that you are living in a 'perfect world.' After all, this is why I called this my "fantasy search engine."]
If taking a long survey like e-harmony helps connect you to those that fit your personality, can't something like that be set up to find the news, web pages, and other content that best fits your needs?
There could be an actual "survey" conducted (for the sake of simplicity, let' call the product "E-Googley"), but a long survey could be supplemented by:
  1. indexing your Twitter (and other social media) posts, the URL's you post on Twitter, and who you choose to follow on Twitter (and any other social media that is relevant to your search preferences like LinkedIn, MH Connected, etc.)
  2. indexing your blog (if applicable)
  3. submitting any personal writings you've done
  4. embedded cookies that follow your browsing preferences (sites that you bookmark, or go to without being prompted from an RSS feed or other reference point)
  5. ranking of items returned in your results (kind of like the Pandora "thumbs up", "thumbs down" ranking... simple, but effective
Taking all of this information should help the magical E-Googley system start to weight the results you get from your newsfeeds, readers, web searching, etc. - PLUS should start suggesting new items that you should follow and what existing items you should drop off your lists.
Here's the catch phrase:
E-Googley - We'll help you find "the one" you need now... and keep a look out for "the one" you'd like to meet later.
This week, Bing added support from Wolfram Alpha, and Google added data from the World Bank to help improve the "data" is supplies for the search results, but I want these search engines to not only work on the backend data, I want it to get to know me better and the kind of results I want to meet. I'm sure with all the cash that Google or Bing has (although e-Bingley doesn't seem to have the same ring to it..) either could pony up a few million for the E-Harmony survey algorithms and make my dreams come true of a search engine that is truly "The One."

Bookmark and Share

11/11/09

Are You Ready to Augment Your Reality?

I got it! I got it! I got it today! I was so, so happy--when I came home tonite something told me to pick up my mail and to my distinct pleasure I had received the December issue of Esquire; "henceforth to be known as the Genius Issue," to quote Robert Downey, Jr. Why, you may ask? I'll tell ya why--it is their Augmented Reality Issue. On the cover sits said Robert Downey, Jr. atop "a googly-eyed box". After spending a half-hour downloading some special A/R software (25 minutes more than Esquire's quoted 5 minutes), I was able to hold the magazine cover up to my laptop's web cam and--VOILA--watch Mr. Downey cavort about my screen. Yes, he did some shameless self-promotion on his upcoming Sherlock Holmes movie--the Warners Bros. Studio probably paid for the production of the video footage--but it really was exciting to see it all unfold. And it wasn't just one video "on the cover," so to speak, but 4. With every turn and tilt of the cover you got more footage. The A/R segments were built by the Barbarian Group and Psyop, both digital design companies at the very front of the online marketing pack. Thankfully, most of the segments were no longer than 20-45 seconds long because you had to hold the magazine up in such a manner so that the laptop could read the A/R icon on the cover.

It took me a little while to figure out that I had to make sure and hold the mark in front of the webcam even after the footage started running to ensure that the video continued to move along and stay in the center of the screen--there is a little marker locator in the upper-right hand corner.

In addition to the cover, there were 5 other embedded A/R icons: one for their monthly feature "A Funny Joke From a Beautiful Woman", another from Esquire Style, the third from jazz musician Robert Glasper and the last one from photographer JR.

The "Funny Joke" segment was interesting. Actress Gillian Jacobs tells two jokes set to the time on your computer. If it is before midnite, the PG-rated joke plays. If it is after midnite, the NR one plays (I didn't stay up to listen).

The Esquire Style piece was interesting. I began to see some opportunity for product placement in this one, obviously because the actor Jeremy Renner was modeling clothes but also because even tho the background was illustrated the the name of the sponsor Dolce Gabanna was prominently displayed. The execution of this one was a little hard because in order to see Jeremy transform from one season of clothing to the next, I had to rotate the page. Which got to be rather akward for me. Maybe I am just uncoordinated.

The jazz musician's piece was good, too, because I was afraid that I was going to have to hold the magazine up for the entire play of the song. But once the web cam recognized the A/R icon and I dropped the magazine, it automatically rolled over to a web page featuring a billboard and a slider showing the extent of the play. By the way, it was some great jazz.

The photographer's slideshow was a little disappointing. It had some stunning work but in order to scroll through the images you had to rotate the page of the icon. When I did, the images scrolled a tad too quickly for my taste. It could be user error but I did try it a couple of times and got the same results.

And there was one other, and to Esquire's credit, unpromoted use of A/R. Lexus had an A/R ad. However, I have to say it was pretty disappointing. It didn't have a lot of razzmatazz and seemed to be a reworking of a typical car video. But I'm not into cars or car ads so maybe it was kinda cool. But the whole Esquire effort was SO COOL! I was just grinning. Okay, I was grinning because, yes, Robert Downey, Jr. is one of my favorites, but it was just so damn cool! I mean, can't you just see it? Just imagine: you will be able to send a pleading to the judge and have an A/R icon embedded into it, which switches to a the video footage from your Academy Award-winning deposition where the opposing party's client says, "Yes, I have the smoking gun! And I am glad I did it!" Or you are at a virtual trial and you go to submit your evidence to the holographic jury and the holographic judge, which documents the fraudulent expenditure of company funds and embedded into the documents are the fingerprints, which auto-hyperlink to all of the related records that the defrauder touched and includes a receipt for a matching amount of deposits to an off-shore bank? Ummh. Sorry. Clearly, I missed my calling as a sci-fi, legal thriller writer. Or maybe not. But anyways, we are just beginning to see how A/R will be used. It is the dawn of a new day. Have you had your Jolt yet?

Bookmark and Share

The TwitterTim.es 'Newspaper' - Standing Out in a Sea of Social Media Mashups

The Twitter Times is perhaps one of the best formatted mashups of Twitter posts I've seen. This jewel is the brainchild of Russian genius Maxim Griniv and combines the power of information provided in the Twitter community with the aesthetic comfort of a newspaper style format. In my opinion, this might be one of the best Twitter resources since TweetDeck (and I love TweetDeck!!) I immediately jumped on this little product and created my own personal Twitter Times.
The idea behind The Twitter Times [TwtTimes] is to take your first and second level Twitter friends and compile the information that the people you are following are "tweeting," by pulling it all together in a format that helps you quickly see "What's Hot" and the "Top News History." The result is a wonderful display of text and pictures that look very much like a newspaper website. In a couple of minutes, you can quickly scan the information and catch up on the major discussions your Twitter friends (and their friends) are discussing.
I shot Maxim an email a few days ago suggesting that he should expand TwtTimes to include "Twitter Lists" as well as generic twitter user profiles. The idea I had behind the "Twitter Lists" option was that it would allow the end users to narrow the topics displayed on TwtTimes based on the lists. In other words, if I have a list of people who are focused on "law libraries" or "competitive intelligence" then the topics of TwtTimes would (hopefully) fit those more narrow topics. In its current form, The Twitter Times tends to pick up the Twitter "biggies" (e.g., ReadWriteWeb, Guy Kawasaki, WSJBlog, etc.) This isn't saying that the current form is bad (because it isn't), I was just hoping to guide the iteration of TwtTimes to take advantage of the Twitter Lists and be a much more flexible resource.
Maxim responded that the idea of handling Twitter Lists would mean TwtTimes would "have to support more newspapers for a single user and, consequently, [would] need more computers to handle them." In other words, it would cost more money and equipment than TwtTimes is able to handle at this time. To off-set the costs, Maxim asked if he thought people would pay for the service. If there is one thing I know about my social media friends... they will not pay for anything "social media" related. So, that idea is definitely DOA. Combine that with a comment that (3 Geek member) Lisa gave me when I asked her to take a look at TwtTimes...
Mashup of Twitter Trends and TweetDeck notifications and Google Reader? Hmm. Not sure I have room on my social media platter ...
...you'll see that not only are my social media friends cheap... they are also burning out on all the available social media resources. If TwtTimes can support this with ads, then I think people will be fine. But, no one that I know would want to pay for a social media resource... no matter how useful it might be.
So here's the situation. We have a great product, with a lot to offer, but in a market that is completely being overwhelmed by one social media resource after another. For all of you that are reaching your saturation point on social media tools, my suggestion is to take a look at TwtTimes and try it for a week or two. If need be, click the "mark all as read" button on your Google Reader from time to time to make room on your "social media platter." I think you'll find this product will be pretty tasty. Who knows... something like this could end up in the Google stable someday (hint, hint Google!!)

Bookmark and Share

11/10/09

What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs

I read a great study about the difference between Generation X and Generation Y female online activity.

According to PopSugar Media—isn’t that a great name, by the way?—two-thirds of female Gen Xers rely on female Gen Yers to define pop culture trends. And female Gen Yers are twice as likely as female Gen Xers to rely on social media to identify new brands and products.

YAY me. :)

I am right on the cusp of Gen Y. And I am in a position of influence. And I’m in charge of social networking for my firm.

That means if a law firm is smart—and aren’t they all?—they would put a woman in the middle of her career in charge of their online strategy and let her rip. Arm her with the firm’s online social media policy, heck, maybe even let her craft it, then let her develop a web presence on behalf of the firm.

I am watching a good friend of mine @KatDeLia do this for her segment of her professional services firm. I don’t think that either she or the firm realize what is going to happen.. But the results are inevitable.

Mark my words, in a few months she is going to hit everyone’s radar in her office and in her industry. She’s out there every day, conscientiously tweeting about her firm. One tweet at a time, she is going to turn eyes her way. And the pay off is going to come. Because she is a likeable, attractive face in the crowd of professional services.

And that is important because one of the points that the study made is that Gen Yers are extremely skeptical and seek genuine and authentic messaging. Interestingly, @KatDeLia and I were talking about this very issue last week. We have both discovered that on Twitter, if you talk “occasionally” about funny, family, quirky stuff, you are more likely to get read.

And that is the point. In the overcrowded sphere of social media, you need every edge you can get.

So, as we girls like to say, if you got it, flaunt it. Because it doesn’t last forever (this is me speaking from the far end of the Gen Y cusp). And you don’t just have to be a female to make this work for you. Be adorable. Be cute. Be attractive. Then talk business.

Because, as @KatDeLia likes to say, “a girl’s gotta eat.”

Bookmark and Share

Kindle for PC - This Is A Game Changer!

Just found out that Amazon granted my wishes of pushing the beta version of the Kindle application to the PC Desktop!! This, my friends, is a total game changer in a number of ways. I'm about 5 minutes into testing out the new application, but I'm already finding some good, and some bad things.
Good:
  • Big Screen!
  • Color!
  • Syncs with Kindle
Bad:
  • No note taking ability in PC mode
  • No highlighting ability in PC mode
  • No searching ability in PC mode
  • No voice option in PC mode
Let's all hope that Amazon updates the PC version to match all the features you can get on the Kindle. But, regardless of the shortcomings of the Beta version of the Kindle for PC, this is a great step forward for electronic book publishing! Now, for all of those legal publishers out there... get busy making your books available on the Kindle!!

Bookmark and Share

11/6/09

Are We Dead Yet?

I read with great interest a NYT article, "Virtual Estates Lead to Real-World Headaches" that analyzed the death of an online relationship in Second Life. Apparently, a couple married, bought an island and built a house--all on Second Life. Last year, the man died of liver failure.
With the push of a button, the man's partner lost everything they had together on Second Life: their island, their home and all memories of their relationship. Arguably, since Second Life has a current currency rate of 259 Lindens to $1, the estate had some value and could fall under legal scrutiny. I remember when I first heard of Second Life back in the early 2000s I was ranting at my friends about how this was going to raise all kinds of weird legal issues like virtual property rights, trademark issues and contractual problems. I remember saying, "they are making and selling designer clothes for their avatars, for God's sake!" They all just rolled their eyes and said, "that whacky Lisa--she's such a geek." Well, they were right about the last half of that statement--little did they know how prophetic their words would be. As for the rest, it turns out that I was right, after all. I believe that we are just at the tip of the iceberg that represents all of virtual law. Remember, we are only at web 2.0. There is a long way between 2.0 and web 200.0--heck, even web 2,000.0. Don't believe me? Take a look at science fiction writer Orson Scott Card's description of social media that he wrote about in Ender's Game. He wrote that book before 1985 and it perfectly describes blogging. And we are only barely touching the surface of what the human mind is capable of imagining. Ever watched Ted.com? If you have, you know what I mean. We have only just begun to comprehend the extent of the web's reach.
My friend Saskia, a professor at University of Houston's School of Law, turned me on to related article: "What Happens to Your Facebook After You Die?". Facebook's answer is to shut down the profiles but to memorialize their wall so that friends and family can pay their respects. But it is causing some backlash because dead people were showing up in their "Recommend a Friend" feature. We--meaning the social media community--are still thinking through the physical, virtual and legal ramifications of the web. We haven't even begun to comprehend its reach.
What I foresee in the area of estate law, and the NYT article mentions this, is that lawyers will need to begin educating executors on how to manage the deceased's social media accounts. Will, Estate and Probate forms will need to begin including social media and online passwords to not only Facebook, LinkedIn, Martindale Hubbell and Twitter but also online banking, credit card sites and the like when preparing their documents.
Heck, lawyers might even think about creating online safety deposit boxes to "hold" all these valuable docs.
We just finished celebrating Day of the Dead here in Tejas. Might be a good time to contemplate these more macabre issues. Leave it to a lawyer to ruin the party.

Bookmark and Share

11/5/09

Raising Rates in 2010?

We at 3 Geeks will be watching with great anticipation and interest in how the 2010 Rate Increase Season unfolds. Firms and lawyers are facing a significant challenge this year. On one hand we have a zero inflation year (based on your source). And clients are still in cost-cutting mode – not very excited or open to hearing about hourly rate increases. This puts rate increases in the proverbial ‘lead balloon’ category. On the other hand many firms didn’t raise rates much, if at all, in 2009. And they may be living on deep discounts or even prior year rates with some clients. This squeeze on revenue and profits is hurting. Even with all the law firm cost cutting efforts (ala ATL) firms have been seeing downward pressure on partner incomes (how’s that for a euphemism?). So … what will firms do? One obvious answer is Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs). This shifts the question away from rates to fees. However, AFAs cannot fully address the problem. First – most engagements are still on the billable hour. And second – an AFA doesn’t change the law firm business model. It merely increases the pressure to change it. Another option is to co-opt the Big Four model. As I understand it, the Big Four rarely charge at full rates and preemptively raised their rates years ago to enable this method for maintaining revenues. For law firms this would mean raising rates and discounts at the same time. This tactic will leave existing clients at a status quo, but allow firms to start from higher hourly rates on new deals. Again – this doesn’t seem like a solution as much as a maneuver. Using the Big Four model will be problematic since firms are late to this game. The outcome of the 2010 Season will likely rely on the impending client rate letters. If clients are assertive and send out a preemptive strike – calling for status quo on rates, firms will probably go along. If law firms are first to move, they may have some flexibility in increasing rates. If firms are smart, these rate increases will be strategic – done on a market-by-market basis. For instance Bankruptcy and FCPA work, which are hot, will have lower rate sensitivity and be candidates for an increase. Whereas some other un-named practice areas won’t have such a luxury. Whatever happens, the 2010 Rate Increase Season will be interesting and probably entertaining. Stay tuned.

Bookmark and Share

11/4/09

Westlaw's OnePass Fiasco: A Study In How NOT To Roll Out A Change

Heads up to all you Westlaw users out there... you're about to face "change" dead in the face!
ThomsonReuters is rolling out a change in its password system and require everyone to roll over to their "OnePass System" by the end of January 2010. This, in and of itself, is not a big issue, but how they've started rolling out the change is. Seems that some of the Westlaw reps knew about this months ago and gave their folks the heads up. While others either didn't know, or didn't pass the message along until a mass email went out last Thursday -- announcing the change that was rolling out two days later.
Needless to say, there are some folks in the law library world that aren't happy with the way this was handled.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that sometimes we librarians can get a little freaked out on small issues, but I think this is one situation that should have been handled with a little more forethought on the side of West. Librarians tend to be the ones that have to pass along these changes to the attorneys, and in some firms, the librarian to attorney ratio can be 1:100 or more. Although theoretically we have until January 31, 2010 (nearly 3 months) before the roll out is finalized and the Westlaw sign on page goes away forever to be replaced by the OnePass sign on page, the process has already begun and now librarians are having to play catch up.
It would have been a lot better for West to announce this through the local reps at least a month before the OnePass registration process began. This would have given the librarians enough time to ask questions, prepare FAQ's, and work with other vendors that may be affected by the change (such as those Monitoring Software packages I talked about a few weeks ago.) Now librarians have to deal with many issues all at once rather than how to implement the changes in an orderly fashion.
We'll all survive this change, and probably be stronger as a result. But, next time, let's all work together to make sure we don't have to scramble to achieve the changes just because there is a lack of communication between the vendor and the clients. An ounce of communication can prevent a pound of complaints later!!

Bookmark and Share

11/3/09

Law Firms and the Cult of Personality

I have been thinking about the cult of personality lately. As geeks, we always like to think we are so nouveau, so cutting-edge in our attempts to lasso technology. Especially in the social media arena. Our pink-haired, horn-rimmed nerdy selves keep trying to out-tweet, out-blog and out-optimize one another in an effort to be ahead of the next big thing. But the truth of it is that the compulsion to create the cult of personality has been around for ages. What brought this all to head for me was watching Michael Jackson's This Is It this week-end (shameless plug for my movie review site inserted here). Talk about personality--he had it in spades. Whether you thought he was talented, weird, the King of Pop or whatever, this guy made and lost more money than most of us will ever see in our own lifetime. The man was a genius at making a spectacle of himself--intentionally or otherwise. The movie got me to thinking: just how does one achieve that kind of larger-than-life status? I think that is a question that all marketers, especially legal marketers, struggle with. Just how do you achieve cult status for a law firm? I mean, seriously, who has ever gone to a party and just started randomly raving about what a great lawyer they have because they helped them evade a $10 million fine for tax evasion? Or avoid an ugly trial that would cover the desperate allegations against drug company? Or how do you post a blog about how your law firm successfully negotiated a settlement for an undisclosed amount for an issue that cannot be discussed outside of the realm of attorney-client privilege? So we fall back on the cult of personality, where lawyers have to cultivate public personas to establish themselves as thought leaders in their given practice, which goes against most lawyers' academic inclinations and most large law firms mantras that "the whole is greater than the sum of our partners." The only lawyers that succeed at the cult of personality are those that are on their own, on tv or are judges--or some mix thereof. The most popular ones that come to mind are Judge Judy, Greta Van Susteran, Geraldo Rivera, the Supremes (a/k/a Ginsberg, Scalia, et al.) and Texas cowboy litigators, Percy Foreman, the DeGuerin brothers, Joe Jamail, and the late, great Texas lawyer John O'Quinn. All of this got me to thinking about one of the most influential of our early Americans, Benjamin Franklin. An uneducated man by any academic standards (he only completed 2 years of education) he developed his own cult of personality. I mean, how else can you account for him singlehandedly convincing 13 colonies, in the midst of a revolution, to move their clocks back one hour? How in the heck did he persuade everyone to do that without sending one single e-mail? And let's not forget all of his lady-friends. Now that's personality! NOTE: please don't hold me to the historical accuracy of the creation of day light savings--I am aware that this was a long, legislative effort conceived and compelled by other men--I am merely taking some poetic license to make a point.

Bookmark and Share

11/2/09

Twitter Lists - No RSS Feed?? No Problem!!

Twitter has come out with a great idea of allowing you to create "lists" of your favorite people and seeing what all of them are saying within a single view. Twitter is calling this the (unoriginal) "Twitter Lists". The list idea is great, but for some reason they left out one feature that might make this idea "great". Right now, you cannot directly create an RSS feed out of the Twitter list. I'm not sure why Twitter didn't build that into the initial release, but luckily for you, we've found a way around that little issue.
Enter one of our old friends, "Dapper Dapp Factory". One of my first blog posts was a review of the Dapp Factory, and it is still a jewel when you need it. Until Twitter wises up and figures out how great a resource the RSS feed of the Twitter Lists can be, here's what you need to do.
1. Find the feed you want to turn into an RSS feed:
For our example, we'll take Nicole Black's list of "legal-must-follows"
2. Copy the URL for the list and go to Dapper's Dapp Factory (create a free account if you don't already have one.) Select "RSS Feed", then click "Next"
3. On the next page, click "Add to Basket", then "Next Step" (ignore the message, as we are just going to upload this one web page.)
4. Highlight and click the Twitter Name, then save it as "TwitterName"
5. Highlight and click the "Tweet" portion, then save it as "Tweet"
6. Highlight and click the "Time" portion, then save it as "Date"
7. The results will look like this:
8. Name your "Dapp" and save it
9. Create the RSS feed following this format:
10. Copy and paste the RSS feed into your Google Reader or other RSS resource:
This is not a perfect RSS feed, but this will work nicely until Twitter realizes that creating RSS feeds of the Twitter Lists is a needed resource.
NOTE: Nicole Black also pointed me toward another Twitter List To RSS resource (although it is having some issues, Niki says to keep trying it and it does eventually work. Thanks Niki!!

Bookmark and Share

10/29/09

"Put Me In Coach!" - But Not On Your Cut & Paste List, Please!!

I'm a big fan of "lists" - whether they are "Top 10" lists, or "Must Follow" lists or "To Do" lists... (actually, I'm not a big fan of the "To Do" list.) But, I do not like it when someone posts a "list" on their blog that is basically a cut and paste job from other's work. I ran across one such list today and it immediately made me think that someone didn't do their own work.
The list was compiled by a "Lawyer Coach" and is called "50 Lawyers and Legal Professionals You Should Follow." I'm not going to link to it, but you can do a Twitter search to find some of the tweets and re-tweets that point to it, or you can Google it!
I saw this tweeted by a couple of very reputable people I follow and so I checked it out to see who the "best of the best" were. When I got there, I saw what looked like the great list of people that Lance Goddard and Adrian Lurssen compiled, and to the blogger's credit, they were credited. However, once I started looking at the list, I noticed that there were links to people:
  1. Who don't exist
  2. Who don't write anything
  3. Who died over a year ago
It reminded me of some attorneys I've known over the years that blindly cut and paste sections from someone else's brief only to have a judge point out to them that the quote or citation from the original brief was wrong. Doing things like this show that you are sloppy in your research, and if you aren't willing to put in the effort to at least verify the people that you claim others should follow, then why would anyone want to follow (or hire) you??
So please... if you put a list on your blog that you want me to take seriously; DON'T COPY & PASTE SOMEONE ELSE'S LIST!! And, if you feel that you must copy and paste someone else's list, please do some research to make sure the information is still accurate. Otherwise, you just end up looking like you don't know what you're talking about.

Bookmark and Share

10/27/09

Live Streaming Conferences — Learn From My Mistakes!!

They say that "practice makes perfect"... so, I guess that means I need more practice.
Last Friday, the Special Libraries Association Texas Chapter (SLA-TX) hosted an all day conference at the University of Texas campus. We had a packed house, and I decided to also stream the conference in order to allow those that could not attend a chance to sit in 'virtually.' We used UStream as our free streaming provider, a new Logitech QuickCam Orbit MP Webcam, and Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder 3 to take advantage of the high quality camera functions through UStream.
Although things went pretty well, there were a few mistakes on my part that I'd like to share with you in case you decide to stream a presentation.
1 - If you have a chance to "hard wire" your Internet connection, do it!!
The night before the conference, I tested the streaming capabilities at the SLA-TX board meeting so that we could talk to board members that couldn't make the trip to Austin. We used the WiFi through the hotel, and quickly discovered that weak WiFi causes bad streaming. The slowness in the WiFi connection caused the audio to chatter, and the lag time in the video became huge (around a 10 minute lag time.) When I got to the conference room the next day, I quickly found the network plug and hard wired my Internet connection.
2 - Bring an extension cord and a long network cable!
I actually did bring an extension cord with me, but the network cable I brought was only 12 feet long. Because the network plug was in the corner of the room, this meant I had to shoot the video at an angle. It would have been much better to have shot the video from the audience perspective with a straight on shot. Next time, I'm bringing at least 50 feet of networking cable, and 50 feet of extension cord... just to be safe.
3 - If you want to show both the speaker and the presentation, darken the room!
Apparently, a well-lit room and a bright projector screen are not a good combination. I noticed in the Internet Librarian live stream, that you can see the speaker and presentation just fine if the room is darker. Next time, we're turning off some lights in the conference room!
4- Understand that the "Chat" function may be blocked by some workplace networks!
This problem I actually knew about before I started streaming on Friday (since my workplace blocks 'Chat' functions for security reasons.) Your audience will not be able to 'talk' to you, so the only way the can ask questions is to either sign in on the chat function (if they can), or you can set up a Twitter hashtag (we used #slatx09), and monitor that via the UStream widget. If all of that fails, give your audience an email address to send their questions and monitor that during the presentation.
5 - Want to record the presentation? Then read the instructions!!
I know, I know... this goes against the guy code and Toby has asked for my man card for even suggesting reading instructions but I really screwed the pooch on this one. We had a great keynote presenter in Gary Hoover who I promised I would record the presentation and send him a copy. Now I have to send an apology note to Gary that explains that, while I did press the "record" button, apparently, it was the wrong "record" button. Now, I have nothing for him but excuses. Turns out that I needed to use the record function through the UStream dashboard rather than the record function through the Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder.
I'm sure there are many, many more mistakes that I made while live streaming the SLA-TX conference last Friday, but these are all I'm admitting to at this time.
Despite the fact that I didn't record the conference, I'd still say that the live stream was an overall success. At one point in the conference (while discussing the hot topic of the SLA name change and alignment project), we had more people watching the live stream than we had at the conference. We handled questions from the remote viewers, and were able to expand our audience beyond those that could travel to Austin. That, my friends, is a win-win for everyone. I hope that some of you reading this are now inspired to live stream your conferences and seminars. If you do, please let me know so I can tune in and see if you've learned from my mistakes.

Bookmark and Share

10/26/09

Scared of the “C” Word? Then You Shouldn’t Be in Social Networking

Remember my blog where I compared legal marketing to dating?
I stand by my previous metaphor and I add yet more: social networking is true test of your commitment to your law firm. Yes, the big “C” word: commitment.
For social networking to truly sing, you can’t just be friends with your social networking sites. You can’t just drop by when you feel like spending time with them. Sending them make-up flowers won’t work. And big, glorious, dramatic scenes will get you nowhere.
Just like marriage, social networking is hard. You have to be present every single day with a commitment to add something of value. Your words may fall on deaf ears. The objects of your affection may spurn you or take no notice.
But it doesn’t matter whether anyone notices your efforts to demonstrate your commitment, nay, your love for your law firm. It doesn’t matter whether anyone re-tweets you. It doesn’t matter whether your blog gets picked up by some national blog-monger.
Because at the end of the day, you just have to be committed and true to who you love and to who you are.
What can I say? Nice guys do finish last. And marriages can last a lifetime.
Look around. There are lots of happy bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers and LinkedInners. They are just doing their thing, making copy, meeting folks and enjoying their days. And hardly any of them are famous.
But they all seem to be pretty darned happy.
See? Sometimes commitments do pay off.

Bookmark and Share

10/23/09

Live Streaming of SLA-TX Conference

We will stream the SLA Texas Chapter seminar live on 3 Geeks beginning at 9:00 AM Central Standard Time on Friday October 23rd. You can follow the Twitter stream through the hashtag "#slatx09". The agenda and discussion topics are listed below. Free Webcam Chat at Ustream

Agenda (Times are CST)

8:15

Registration, breakfast, and networking

9:00

Welcome by Greg Lambert, Texas Chapter President

9:15

New Web Search Technologies and Social Media Strategies Panel

10:15

Break

10:30

Creative Problem Solving Case Studies Panel

11:30

Lunch

12:30

How an Entrepreneur sees Information: The Importance of Information, including dusty tomes, in the 21st Century – keynote speaker, Gary Hoover

2:00

Break

2:15

Align in ’09 – Tom Rink, Northeastern State University, SLA Division Cabinet Chair

3:00

Break

3:15

Chapter Business & Wrap Up

4:00

Happy Hour: Join us for a glass of wine


Presentations


How an Entrepreneur sees Information:

The Importance of Information, including dusty tomes, in the 21st Century

Featuring keynote speaker – Gary Hoover, visionary, businessman and entrepreneur, travels the world speaking to Fortune 500 executives, trade associations, entrepreneurs and students about how enterprises are built and how they stand the test of time. Hoover founded BOOKSTOP, Inc. which was purchased by Barnes & Noble and Hoover's, Inc which was purchased by Dun & Bradstreet.

Align in ’09

SLA National is undergoing an Alignment Project. Tom Rink the SLA Division Cabinet Chair will enlighten the Texas Chapter about the process and gather our input.

New Web Search Technologies and Social Media Strategies Panel - featuring SLA Texas Chapter Members

· Social Media Policy and Facebook Pages

o Mary Ann Huslig, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

· Triple Letter Score: Wolfram|Alpha, Bing, And Google Squared for Business Research

o Laura Young, Austin Ventures

o April Kessler, University of Texas Libraries

· Social Media Search Strategies

o Joel Thornton, Texas A&M University

Creative Problem Solving Case Studies Panel - featuring SLA Texas Chapter Members

· E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One)

o Melinda Guthrie, Tarleton State University

· Microgrants: Fostering Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston Libraries

o Robin Dasler, University of Houston

· Prioritizing Your Work Schedule

o Michael Zimmerman, Bain & Company


Bookmark and Share

10/22/09

Lexis Gets the 'Cloud'

Computing in the Cloud (f.k.a. SaaS, Hosted Applications, ASP, Thin Client computing, etc.) is all the rage these days. And it incites a high level of emotion amongst both its supporters and detractors. Those holding back against the Cloud trend point to security of information (for lawyers this is your clients’ information) as the reason not to move into the Cloud. Supporters note that 1) moving into the Cloud adds levels of collaborative functionality and service that client/server tools can’t match, and 2) the Cloud can be much more secure than self-hosted and maintained information. The problem is that both sides are right. Moving client information into unknown and ill-defined Clouds can lead to bad consequences. Meanwhile, trying to stay up on fast changing and conflicting security concerns on your own is daunting, at a minimum. And on top of that, just try to keep up with collaborative technology innovations. What is needed is a highly trusted Cloud that will host client information in a well-defined and known set of locations. Ideally this will be a provider with years of experience hosting mission critical information. You know … something like case law or numerous other sources of legal content. The challenge with that type of vendor would be their willingness to host applications from third parties. I had the opportunity recently to hear a ‘Cloud’ presentation from Lexis. My expectations were low, looking forward to an hour of Buzzword bingo. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Terry Williams, VP Managed Technology Solutions, talked at length about how Lexis has seen this coming and actually DONE something about it. They are already hosting third party applications in the e-discovery arena and are moving out beyond that realm into other legal applications. And get this – they are even exploring hosting general (non-legal specific) applications. When I asked him my $64 Dollar Cloud question (what about hosting MS Exchange?) he didn’t flinch. Although they are not quite willing to answer this question yet, they have at least asked it. The potential result would be an option for law firms to eventually move all of their software and data into a trusted Cloud. When it comes to securing your data in this scenario, Lexis will even give you the option of naming both your primary and secondary data center locations (insuring your data stays on-shore). Someone pinch me – I must be dreaming. Terry said to expect more information and announcements in the coming months. Their intention is to move fast, since nimbleness counts for so much these days.

Bookmark and Share
 

© 2014, All Rights Reserved.