Showing posts with label Online Content. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Online Content. Show all posts


Remember when you created that online magazine with mixed medias? Yeah, don't do that again!

The Mixed Media Project
Image [cc] La Tête Krançien
At first it was really cool. Then it got really, really bad. Eventually, I had to just shut down the browser to escape the music and sensory overload!! A YouTube replay of Miley Cyrus at the VMAs?? No… I could actually sit through that. I'm talking about The Festival Issue of VENTS Online Magazine.

It isn't that the concept is a bad idea, but the final product is simply not very good. In fact, it is a good example of what NOT to do with online magazines and mixing medias. (I'll place a link to the magazine at the bottom, and you can click on it at your own personal sensory risk.)

Okay… where do I start?? Let me put a list out of what I think VENTS was wanting to do. Remember, good idea, bad result.

Good Ideas
  • They used Calaméo as the back-end product to create the magazine. Simple, straight-forward, process of creating an online magazine
  • A 146 pages of black background, white print, two-page spreads, with lots of dark images to blend in nicely
  • Short, interview style articles that were very easy to read and or skim
  • Actually worked pretty well with my iPhone (I'd probably be writing a different article if I hadn't opened it up on my PC)
  • Music and videos embedded into the articles related to the bands being interviewed
Bad Results
  • I'm still not a fan of the online magazines that attempt to look exactly like a glossy paper magazine. I really don't like the swishing sound that is made when you turn the virtual page, or for that matter, I don't like the virtual turning of the page, either!
  • Flash based from the PC browser
  • When mixing medias, it is important that the reader/listener/viewer maintain control of the different medias. Don't automatically start the music or videos. Let the user decide when to do that.
  • When you have media embedded into the product, make sure it works. I couldn't control the sound from the embedded soundbar. I had to actually turn the computer's volume control down because it was blasting as soon as I 'flipped' to the next page.
  • If you have control bars for the media, make sure they work. I couldn't find a way to turn off the music, and when I did find the media tool bar for the embedded video, none of the controls worked.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I initially thought this was really cool. An online magazine that talked about specific music festivals, specific bands, and gave me immediate access to information, text, links, video, and music to learn more about these festivals and bands. Good idea... something that the people behind the Van's Warped Tour should consider doing. But, MAN!!, don't overload me like that with automated media that doesn't work properly. I'm not sure if the problem lay with the magazine producers or with the backend company producing the format. However, it really ruined a good concept.

Okay… now that I've gone on and on about it, here is the link to the online magazine. I tested it in Chrome (bad), Internet Explorer 9 (bad), and on my iPhone 4s (good). If you are on a PC, you might want to turn your volume down before opening the link (otherwise your office neighbors give you funny looks for the rest of the day.) If you can make it through to page 146, you'll find one of my favorite bands featured there!!

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The iPad Law Library?

Is it live, or is it Memorex iPad?
As I was walking through one of the libraries at the firm, I started looking around at all of the books that still remain on the shelves. Some are battered, but most are in pristine condition with spines that would make an audible snapping sound if you were to open them for the first time. Some are primary law, while others are secondary resources dedicated to specific practice groups. Most of them we have through our multiple online subscriptions and databases. Some will soon be packaged as eBooks. Nearly all of them are expensive (costing $100+ per volume or more.) Yet, the rate of which these physical books are going away is not nearly as fast as I predicted ten years ago when I wrote a couple of chapters in a book about the Futures of Law Libraries. It seems some of us are going to be stuck with these for many years to come.

Then a thought hit me... a crazy thought, yes, but a thought. For about the cost of three of these books, I could actually buy a lower-end iPad and place on the shelf. Could I replicate a reporter set and make it easy for the researcher to 'flip' through the online version of the material on the iPad? Could it be set up to replicate the 'feel' of a book (which is kind of what the new eBook sales pitch wants us to believe)? What if I told the attorney that, just like with the books, if you use this format, we won't bill the client for any of the usage? Would that do the trick? Could we get attorneys to use some of the online content that they don't even know exists (cough, cough, IntelliConnect, cough, cough.) Could everywhere we had a law review section, place an iPad connected to HeinOnline there instead? Instead of a library copy of all those personal desk copies, could we have a pre-loaded iPad available in the library instead?

Is there a way to ween lawyers away from all these books that fill up shelf after shelf? Is that even something we really want to do? I'd really like to test out the whole 'replace books with library iPads' idea. Just for the simple reason that even if it failed... I'd at least end up with a number of iPads to play with in the end.

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All the News That's Fit To Print – 3 Days a Week…

New Orleans' based newspaper, The Times-Picayune, announced that it is shifting its print publications to a three day a week schedule instead of its traditional seven days a week model. The focus of the paper will shift to its free online content and will attempt to look at ways of making online advertising more profitable. In addition to the Times-Picayune, the Birmingham News the Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama, and The Huntsville (Alabama) Times will also shift to a 3 day print schedule.
[note: see Ted Jackson's gut-wrenching photo of the T-P staff hearing the announcement.]

Print newspaper subscriptions have suffered significantly in the age of the Internet. Although no one is saying that reporting is becoming obsolete, many of us are thinking that "print" reporting is becoming obsolete and the shift is to online or mobile app platforms. In fact, in today's Houston Chronicle (print edition) an ad was run right next to this story saying that "Sunday Circulation" was up 2.8% for the Chronicle. Notice how the ad shows the iPhone, iPad, online, and print editions?? We librarians have felt the pains of a shift in how our consumers use our services, but I'd be the first to admit that I would much rather deal with the change in library industry than be a reporter today.

The whole issue of "Print vs. Online" has been raging for years now, with print being a consistent loser. The one element in this battle, however, has been the idea that advertising revenues are what will keep these news resources going (be they in print, online, app, whatever….) However, I just got off the phone with Toby Brown and asked how the heck can advertising dollars be spread over such a large number of resources in a way that can keep them afloat?? I just don't see how current advertising structures will be sustainable over the next few years. In fact, Fox and NBC-Universal just sued DirecTV because they've developed an "ad hopper" which allows DirecTV customers to automatically skip over advertising.

It is a bizarre time in the news and media world these days. As we shift more and more away from traditional sources of news and entertainment, and we go online, streaming or app our way into the future of information access, the economics of the industry will constantly shift in order to try to support the industry. I thought that Vince Gill hit something on the head when he tossed out the fact that music singles today cost 99¢. A single in 1960 cost… 99¢. The prima facie economics of the news and media industry just don't add up to profits. Consumers don't want to pay more, pay walls don't seem to be the answer, and advertisers are being more selective on where they place their ads. I, for one, would hate to be an advertising director in a major corporation right now.

Where will it all lead?? Here's some of my (random) thoughts on the subject:

  • More "app-based" access. Apps would give the media provider more control over making sure ads aren't skipped, and that ads are targeted at appropriate users (no Cadillac ads sent to 12 year old girls.) App platforms will include iOS devices, Android (mostly Kindle Fire), and gaming devices like XBox360.
  • More online access. Similar to the app-based, media providers will push their wears to where the eyes are. I'm sure that more attempts will be made to push ads to the right people, and prevent them from skipping over the ads… however, the success rate will be much lower than the app-based platforms.
  • More "subscribe to play" access. Many providers will shift to collaborative efforts and prevent their products from entering into homes that don't have access to their product in another way. Initially this will mean you need a Cable TV subscription in order to use their online service. I think, just like the pay wall, this will fail. It is already being floated out there to keep Hulu-Plus subscribers from having access to certain shows, if they do not have a cable tv subscription.
  • More "crowd-funded" access. You'll see more efforts like KickStarter on media projects. I could imagine a newspaper having a KickStarter project that funds their business for a three-month period of time, and in return gives something back to their supporters. People are eager to fund projects that they feel strongly about. Imagine that instead of a subscription, a newspaper says that for $50.00 you support our paper, and in return we dedicate a section of the paper to you or to a cause you support?? For $100 you get your name printed at the top of the first page for one day, etc. May sound silly, but one musician raised $450,000 from her fans. Media outlets do have fans, perhaps there is an opportunity here for them as well??

Everything is going to change. How will it end up?? No one knows. The only thing that seems to be understood at this point in the game is that it will take some clever thinking to come to that answer.

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Ten Things You Should Not Post In Online Communities

Image [cc] digmia
I actually wanted to name this post "Things You Shouldn't Post On Professional Listservs," but, when I started asking my fellow Geeks/Bradys for suggestions, some of them responded with "there are still listservs out there??" So, I changed "Listservs" to "Online Communities" and therefore expanded it to all the new forms of communication platforms that are out there, ranging from old-fashioned listservs, to Twitter, to Facebook, to Google+ and even some of those specialized professional communities that Associations create for their members.

I've watched over the years as smart people do dumb things in their online communities. Sometimes those things are complete accidents, but sometimes they are just laps in judgment that make for embarrassing situations. I thought I'd name a few of them here… I'm sure this is only scratching the surface of online community faux pas… so, feel free to chime in with any additional things that you shouldn't post in your online communities.

  1. Tell everyone that you were just "unfairly fired" from your job and why your former boss is an idiot.
    I think we've all seen this one. These comments are usually sent out in the heat of the moment, and tend to give way too much information about themselves and their now former employer. The end result is that the sender of the message usually looks petty, and everyone that reads the message tends to understand why this person was fired. The good result of this kind of message is that at least everyone else knows that if they receive a resume from this person, it can immediately go in the trash.
  2. Accidentally reply to the entire list with a snarky remarks meant for a friend.
    For those of us that have an ability to fire off "zingers" about others, this is one of those that is a constant danger. Usually, the zinger is designed to go to the sender of the message (in most cases a friend that you can make fun of), but the darn community list is set up so that "Reply" is actually a reply to the entire community, not just the original sender. Hopefully, you are really good friends with this person, and they are easy to forgive you for being who you are. Remember, always (I mean ALWAYS) look at the address of the message to see if the recipient is the person, or the entire community!
  3. Ask to borrow something that you know is either copyrighted, or restricted by user license (but your firm is too cheap to buy.)
    This one happens a lot in the "library world" and it is one that falls under the category, "you know better, but you do it anyway." Every time I see a message asking someone to send them a copy of an article out of a publication like LAW360, or some other copyrighted (and strictly monitored) resource, I tend to watch for the vendor to send out a message to the whole community reminding them that they cannot PDF a copy of an article to people outside their organization. If you absolutely need the article, contact the vendor and ask if you can purchase a one-off copy… email a close friend to see if they can descretely send you a copy… or pick up the phone and call them (thus leaving no e-discovery trail to come back to bite you later.) Note: the last two are still violations of your user agreement… but, we know that people do this anyway.
  4. Publicly thanking someone for loaning you something that is copyrighted or restricted by user license.
    See above, and just add in the embarrassment of the person that just broke their license agreement to do the requester a favor, and was thanked publicly for that violation.At best, you can file this under "no good deed goes unpunished."
  5. Forward an internal memo because the "auto-fill" option chose the listserv instead of the individual you meant to email.
    This happens more than we would probably like to admit. For example, because my last name starts with "La", the same two letters that say "law-lib" start with, it could end up that messages meant for me could be autofilled with the address to an entire listserv/online community. The rule here is that the more confidential and important the message is… the more likely it will fall under this faux pas.
  6. Share vendor negotiations outcomes.
    "Yea!! We just cut our _____ contract down to $____ a month!!" Everyone on the list wants to thank you for doing this, but the vendor you just exposed is probably not going to be happy with you, and may point to that "confidentiality" clause in the ____ contract you just signed for $_____ a month!
  7. Share new product information that you received under a Non-Disclosure Agreement
    Speaking of confidentiality… if you ever want to be placed in total darkness about new products coming to the market, just go ahead and comment about them in your online community while you are still under a NDA. Not only will that particular company ban you from any future product development trials, every other company in your industry will find out you are a blabbermouth and will blacklist you from their trials as well. Of course, for bloggers like myself, we always love it when others expose secrets, so that we can post it on our blogs and speculate on what is about to come to market!!
  8. Brag about a potential job you might get… bonus points if you mention negative things about the interview.
    "Whoo Hoo!! Looks like I'm going to get that big job at ____ & _____!! Although, I'm not sure I really want to work with _____, he's kind of a jerk!"
    Yeah… now you don't have to worry about working with _______.
  9. Invite a geographically diverse group to a local event.
    "Happy Hour at Moe's in Springfield!! Everyone's welcome!!"
    While everyone appreciates your enthusiasm (and a few will send you links to the local AA chapter), try to keep these announcements on the local communities rather than those huge lists of 5,000. The other 4,995 people will just be upset that you're partying without them
  10. Mention the name of a new lateral Partner before the move has been publicly announced.
    "Hey, anyone know what treatises that _______ had at ______ & _______? She's starting here next week and I want to make sure we have everything lined up for her."
    We all understand that you are wanting to make a smooth transition for the incoming partner from her old firm, but this sort of mistake will land you on an Above the Law post, and simultaneously land you on your butt outside the front doors of your firm (quickly followed by boxes filled with your office belongings.)
Oh, there is probably so much more in the way of online community faux pas, but I'll stop here for now. Of course there are two "Golden Rules" around online community communications that you should always follow:
  1. Be Careful!
  2. Don't Do Something Stupid!!
You'll find that in life, as well as online, these two rules will usually keep you out of trouble.

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Government Information: A Classic "Pick Two" Option

Last week, there were a couple of random tweets that flew between Ed Walters, Don Cruse, and me that weren't really a big deal in and of itself, but it got me thinking about the way that Government data is compiled, accessible, online, authoritative, and free to the end-user. Ed's tweet was what caught my eye, when he said:
"#opengov divide is between free and open, IMHO. @Google=free, @Fastcase=open (for example). #lawgov". 
There were a few more tweets amongst the group, where I asked if this meant that PACER was in the "open" category the same way that "Fastcase=open" (or if you're in Texas, "Casemaker=Open")? Don Cruse didn't think so and added:
"Nope. PACER tries to restrict reuse and redistribution of data, putting it in a form that's hard to access."
The whole Open/Free access to government information, especially the laws, regulations and court decisions that we have to abide by, made me think of the old saying of "you can have it fast, cheap or good… now pick two." Only with the type of information we're talking about here, there may be more than three things we need, yet we may only be able to still pick two of those things in what we end up with.

I guess the Holy Grail of pushing the type of government information that those of us in the legal industry would like to see, has the following characteristics:

  • Complete
  • Open Access
  • Online Content
  • Authoritative 
  • Free

Now… pick which two you want.

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I'm sooo confused!

I just saw the press release from LexisNexis announcing the addition of American Lawyer Media (aka ALM) content to the Lexis service. As a single-service shop (we only have Lexis), I have to say that I'm a bit confused. First this content was available through both Lexis and Westlaw. Then came the Westlaw "exclusive." And now the Lexis "exclusive." All the while, it remained available through ALM's platform.
I used to compare the ALM access situation to my iPhone. If I wanted it bad enough, I would use the service it was on. Like AT&T, people complain about the service but didn't have much of a choice. It was either go through Westlaw or through the google-type search engine on Readers of my prior blog posts can guess which one I went with. I was willing to endure being inundated with results over the alternative.
ALM does have great content and I am pleased that it is available on the Lexis platform. Being able to run targeted searches on this content will be a wonderful change. However, I'm not so pleased that, after purchasing it in print and through (not to mention getting premium access to their surveys), I'll have to pay a third time to get it from Lexis. I think the best solution would be to follow the iPhone lead and make their content available at least on both of the top two platforms.

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