Maybe Listservs Aren't As Dead As I Thought...

A year and a half ago, I wrote a post that discussed all the benefits that Twitter had over traditional listservs. I'm still a big advocate of Twitter and how much information I can gather in a short period of time, but listservs still may be the King of social networks when it comes to communicating with a professional network. I learned this first-hand this week when I asked for some help from my fellow law firm librarians.

I'm flying up to New York this afternoon to meet with the programmers, sales reps, and marketers for CCH's IntelliConnect product. CCH, part of the mega-legal-vendor Wolters Kluwer (WK), has asked a few law bloggers to come meet with them, review the product, give them some feedback about their product. [note: WK is paying for the flight and hotel room, and six-months subscription to a couple of IntelliConnect databases ... and hopefully dinner!!] I'll blog about the experience next week and let you know about my meeting with this group, and what I think about the product. The biggest problem that I had was the fact that I'm really not a power-user of IntelliConnect (although I do use it, and my firm has a significant subscription with the product in the Health Care area). In order to bone up on my ability to come to New York prepared to ask the tough questions, I turned to the Private Law Librarians listserv for help... and the help poured in!!

Within minutes of my sending an email to the list explaining what I was doing, I received about a dozen or more responses listing out problems and suggestions that my peers would like me to bring up while I'm there. Some of the issues were simple requests, while others pointed out significant issues that they had encountered with the product. Thanks to the folks on the listserv, I go to New York better prepared to discuss the product as a representative of not just a blog... but as a representative of a community of professionals that still monitor the 20th Century social networking tool called a listserv.

The experience reminded me of why I loved listservs years ago, and why they are still very relevant today. So listservs, please accept my apology for thinking that your importance in the professional social community was coming to an end. Although other social networks may try to replace you, you are still one of the best resources out there for gathering feedback from a network of people with a common interest.

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Tim Baran said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Greg. As much as I love Twitter and other new communication platforms, it's almost startling to acknowledge the low percentage of people that actively use them.

Twitter's broad read isn't always conducive to specific requests and feedback - I've tried many times with varying success. Facebook is much better and Listservs, even better. Just a few weeks ago I responded to a Listserv request, Facebook'd, LinkedIn and Twitter'd the issue, summarized in a blog post and returned the expanded results to the Listserv members.

A good reminder that these fantastic new tools are not be used exclusively, but in addition to existing platforms. Just don't overdo the Listserv thing as it fills up inboxes :-)

Lyonette Louis-Jacques said...

Agreed, Greg! One of the reasons I retired my "Law Lists" guide was because I felt that listservs were on their way out, that they were "mostly dead"...:-)

But there are a few really good ones still thriving and still useful such as INT-LAW, teknoids, LIS-LAW, OSALL, CHINALAW, and several ABA and AALS lists I'm on.

They have more people subscribing who share the same interests. There are fewer of these people and they are more scattered on Twitter.

Twitter is much better for certain types of questions than some listservs though. #iPad! :-)

Christopher Johnston said...

Listserv allow much longer form responses than Twitter. Many of the issues I have with Twitter is due to the 140 character limit. It forces you to be concise but sometimes what you need to express simply won't fit into that limitation.
Frienfeed and Google Buzz offer a much better alternative but unfortunately not that many people are using those services.

Anonymous said...

No doubt that listservs beat them all easily. Listservs are a very powerfull tool and need to be taken carefully but once you are above it it gets very high.

There is a learning curve for every listserv, you haqve to see how people react, how different they are etc, before you can really use it.


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