My name is Ryan and I am a sarcastic person. I have a very dry sense of humor and I tease people that I like. A lot. This is simply who I am. My tongue is almost always planted firmly in my cheek. In person, this may endear me to you, or it may make you think I’m a complete SOB, but most of the time there will be little doubt that I am joking. Unfortunately, my sense of humor does not translate well online. Oh, I can fake it on the blog. (You do think I’m funny, right?) I can use parentheticals, punctuation, and over the top satire to make my points. I have plenty of time to craft my humor, to think about what I’m saying before I say it, and to try to be humorous without being misinterpreted. Many times I have written a passage that I thought was hysterically funny, then cut it the next morning because I realized that I could be interpreted as insulting Greg Lambert’s intelligence. (Actually I would have probably left that joke in, but you get the idea.) But the rest of the online world is rough for people like me. The number of times that I have typed a response to a tweet with a brilliant quick witted reply, only to delete it when I realize that I can’t say that in 140 characters without sounding cruel, is only surpassed by the number of times I’ve hit the Tweet button before I realized it. This morning, Matt Levy (@MattLevyIP) tweeted the following: I don’t buy this at all. #DoINeedToSaySarcasm? RT @abajournal: People Who Are Less Agreeable Get Higher Paychecks, Study Finds I thoroughly identify with his dilemma, but #DoINeedToSaySarcasm is 20 characters! That’s a seventh of my allotted space. I can’t type that hash tag every time I want people to know I’m being silly. In the real world sarcasm is subtle. It’s a raised eyebrow, or tone of voice. It’s the way you lift your drink to toast as you say, “Now you know what an elephant feels like.” We use emoticons to replace inflection and tone, but is there anything worse than someone telling you, “I’m just kidding” over and over again. You want to strangle that person. I don’t want to be the kind of person you want to strangle, but I also want you to know I’m probably kidding. This morning on Twitter, I asked for suggestions for a sarcasm emoticon. I suggested :-S , Lisa Salazar suggested :)~ , and Scott Preston suggested $;-) . But Scott also suggested “If you need to explain sarcasm, don’t use it.” He’s right, of course. That’s the advice given by Social Media Gurus everywhere. But they also say you should be yourself online. Well, I’m sarcastic, darn it! I’ve spent a lifetime honing my sarcasm, so that only 7 in 12 people find me completely annoying. I can’t just throw that away. It’s who I am. Today, I’m calling for online amnesty for sarcastic people everywhere. We need to create a Sarcasm Day. One day per year when I can just be myself and type furiously, witty responses, to every stupid thing I read online without worrying about how I’ll be perceived. Otherwise, I’ll have to settle for being staid, boring, humorless, and factual online, and if I wanted to be like that, I would have gone to law school. :)~

One of my favorites apps these days is my GoodReads app.

I finally broke down and bought an iPhone, I am the first of the three Geeks to own one. Don’t ask me why I waited so long. I don’t know why. Well, I do. I’m cheap and my firm wasn’t going to pay for it.

Finally deciding that, hey, I’m in charge of social media at my firm; so, doggone it, I’m getting an iPhone. Plus I was sick and tired of my Torch’s flaming out on me.

Within 3 days I was hooked. I had managed to watch a movie, a tv show, read a book and make a date all on one device. And why didn’t anyone tell me that the sound quality is FANTASTIC?!? All of my music sounds like a symphony inside my head.

Anyhow, back to GoodReads.

For those of you who don’t know, there are two major social book sites: Shelfari and GoodReads.

For a long time I was a Shelfari fan because I liked their virtual bookshelf that I could post to my personal blog. But after they upgraded to allow you integrate it with your Amazon account (they are owned by Amazon), the creep factor pushed me away.

That’s when I made the switch to GoodReads. And when I found out that GoodReads had an iPhone app, well, I was totally down with that. 

So I devoted an entire week-end of moving my Shelfari catalog to my GoodReads account. I had always had an account on both, but let the GoodReads languish. With an easy import of the Shelfari .csv file into GoodReads, the inner librarian came out in me and I was able to categorize my books to my heart’s content.

But the GoodReads app—the app!—is nothing short of amazing.

Not only does it follow your friends’ reads, reviews and status reports, you can read the great classics for free.

Right now I’m reading Oscar Wilde’s “Picture of Dorian Gray.” The functionality of the reader is awesome—just as good as Kindle’s app.

But the best part of the app? The barcode scan.

Click the button, hold your phone up to the barcode of the latest book that you are reading and it automatically uploads the book to your catalog. OMG. The OCD in me was in heaven … I uploaded 100 books in an hour. Crazy fun.

And if you are worried that this post has nothing to do with work, there’s a whole section on law books. I added all of my tomes to that section.


I’ve been watching a disturbing trend. More and more people are laconically letting the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and FourSquare taking over their lives.

I admit. I am as much a victim, perhaps even more of a victim, than you are.

My excuse is that it’s my job.

But what about the rest of the world?

Have we become so used to the entertainment value of being connected to the internet that we have forsaken our right to privacy? Are we so driven by “ease-of-use” that we are willing to let the likes of eBay, Continental and Amazon into the privacy of our homes? Will we, as a nation, place so much value in our desire to be connected to one another that we are willing to forfeit what many perceive to be an inherent right?
But first a history lesson.

The right to privacy is not in the U.S. Constitution. Nor is it in the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence.

Yep, its true.

The right of privacy didn’t make its way into our collective conscience until Justice Brandeis issued his ground-breaking dissent in the 1928 case of Olmstead v. United States. This criminal case swirled around the admissibility of a wiretapping. In a somewhat prophetic analogy, he compares the act of wiretapping to the act of tampering with someone’s mail and says, “the evil incident to invasion of the privacy of the telephone is far greater than that involved in tampering with the mails.”

You’re thinking to yourself, “well, I’ve got mail. Tons of mail. An inbox full of e-mail.”

Brandeis goes on to talk about the peril of not subjecting our government to the same rules of conduct that we expect of our citizens.

I suggest we take Brandeis’ point one step further: we should hold our corporations to these same rules of conduct.

We could be taking these companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google to task for spreading our likes and dislikes to the four corners of the winds and ads are chasing us from online store pillars to online posts.

But the real problem is those darned EULAs.

In our rush to gain access to our Gmail and one-click ordering on Amazon, we have clicked through those end-user agreements without even reading them. GASP—yes, I, a lawyer, don’t even read the fine print.

Daily, we are forfeiting our right to privacy. Incrementally, injudiciously and surreptitiously, we are handing the biggest companies in the world our personal information.

And we don’t even care.

Have we become so comfortable in this Oprah-confessing world that we have no problem baring all before God and man?

Have we decided that there is no shame in ripping off the fig leaves from Adam and Eve?

Are we comfortable letting everyone know what we think, feel and believe?

And is this such a bad thing?

I don’t know.

Maybe the right of privacy only exists in my imagination.

But then isn’t that really the crux of it? That privacy is a concept that we created in our own minds—that nothing is truly private once a thought is created, vocalized or expressed?

For I see that if we do let go of our right to privacy, the next right to be abandoned would be the right of creation.

Yes, the rights of intellectual property.

So with that, dear reader, is where I will leave you. I have no answers. Only my muddling mulling.

And, so at least for today, I would tell Virginia, “yes, there is a right to privacy.”

Photo by woodleywonderworks

My boss has been prepping for an ITLA presentation on “Reducing Costs of Legal Research: Best Practices Onshore and Offshore” where she’s discussing the pros and cons of online vs. print legal research. This is not a new issue, in fact, it has been discussed seriously since about 1994, and I had the privilege of being on the AALL Committee on the Future of Law Libraries in the Digital Age in 2000-2001 where we discussed this very topic. Generally, the discussion has tended to lean toward the idea that online research will trump print research due to the convenience of the format and how the upcoming generation will prefer online over print media.

Then along comes a recession and all of a sudden it becomes apparent that online research is “expensive” and for some forms of research – specifically treatise research – online research doesn’t work very well. Take a poll at one of the practice group meetings you attend and ask the attorneys point blank: “When researching in treatises, do you find you are more efficient using the print version of a treatise, or the online version of a treatise?” I’d almost give you 2 to 1 odds that the print version will be the preferred method.
Speaking of treatises, I could probably write a treatise on why we’ve eliminated print subscriptions over the past 15 years. Issues ranging from duplication, ease of use, user preference, space concerns, and cost of updating have all been reasons used to reduce print and increase online. The implied pledge behind this move has been that once we go from print to online, the firm is committed to the online version. But, I think there are some that are suddenly realizing that the decision to go online only for some types of research tools, such as treatises, was not the best decision in the long run. On top of this, I’m also wondering if there is an ethical line that we’ve crossed along the way by charging the client back for the online version of the treatise when we would not charge for researching the print version.

Thus, this is where I came up with the title of this post. First of all, is it fair for an online provider to charge a standard rate of $825.00 an hour for an online treatise that you can purchase for $499.00 a year for the full print version? Secondly, is it fair for firms to pass the cost of these online charges (granted, some have deep discounts, so it could only be $100.00 an hour) on to the client when they would not pass along the same charges for using the print version?
To the first question, you could argue both sides of the issue and probably come to a draw. Yes, it is fair to charge the higher rate because you have the benefit of full-text searching, automatic links out to secondary sources, and the convenience of multiple researchers using the same product at the same time. The counter argument is that if the online version isn’t easy to navigate, and you end up spending more time using the online version than you would have the print because of the inefficiencies of the online version, then the mark-up in price is not worth it.
Note: When I say inefficiency, I don’t mean “training” issues. One of the biggest complaints that I hear when it comes to doing secondary research using items like treatises online, it is not an easy process. The most common complaint is that when researchers use print treatises, they tend to flip back and forth from the index to the place in the book. Although you can “click” back and forth using online, it tends not to be as easy a process, and tends to take much longer to do.
For the issue of passing along the cost to the client, that would probably be on a case-by-case basis for the researcher to decide. On the surface it would seem unfair to charge a client for the online version when you would not do so for the print. My good friend and co-blogger Toby always tells me that “ethical” issues regarding advertising “online” versus “print” can be summed up this way: “If it is ethical in print, it is probably ethical online.” I think this can be reworked to fit the idea of charging clients for print research and online research. If you charge for the print, you can charge for the online. If you don’t charge for the print, then you probably shouldn’t charge for the online version either.

I was listening to a podcast by some new Twitter friends’ podcast last night, called the Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show, in which they were discussing online advertising.

EEL, celebrating its third year online this month, is a regular podcast series run by Dave Wallace, Kent Newsome and Mike Seyfang, and covers all things technological. From blogging to mashups, they’ve got it covered.

So I listened with great interest when they began discussing Eric Clemons’ Tech Crunch article, Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet last night.

I don’t disagree with several of EEL or Clemons’ premises: ad revenues are down and, as a general rule, people don’t trust advertising.

But I think both EEL and Clemons are a little myopic in their argument.

I counter that for advertising to be fully functional it must be done more holistically.

Yes, I agree, online advertising is declining. But it is declining in a way that the gold rush declined. The internet was a new frontier ten years ago–it was free-for-all. Literally. Businesses would pay for ANY kind of online advertising to just be a part of the game. “Boy geniuses” were raking in adult dollars for posting hyperlinks on web sites and trading site names like baseball cards.

But now the internet, and its audience, has matured and settled down. Buyers are more sophisticated and businesses are demanding more results for the dollars.

Businesses are asking advertisers for metrics, measuring ROI and reading the analytics. Marketers, like me, are analyzing the productivity and effectiveness of their online marketing efforts and asking hard questions about how advertisers are measuring results. Marketers are seeing, with a mixture of amusement and weariness, that no one online advertiser measures online traffic the same way.

Businesses have become more sophisticated and demanding better answers and advertisers are not able to coherently and intelligently respond. In fact, in true “Dan Draper” fashion, some of our online advertising channels are walking away from the sale because they cannot justify the ad spend to us.

Business’s naivete and wonderment at the internet is over. We still love the vibrancy of online art and flashy flash pages but know that when we started examining our own numbers these ads did not deliver the results we needed.

So, now with 10 years of legal marketing under my belt, which thankfully has corresponded with the 10 years of internet pandemonium, the dust has cleared and I have a clearer vision of just what does online advertising mean.

Online advertising is a channel. It is just another medium that exists alongside TV, radio, print and good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth.

Any marketer worth their salt will never rely upon any one advertising medium.

Because, think about it, marketing is war. Why do you think they call it a “marketing campaign”? To properly execute any campaign, there must be a a goal, a strategy, a task force, a plan, soldiers and ammunition. In a marketing plan, we will spend months developing and refining prior to execution, lining up our ads and educating our campaigners.

And, marketing professional services and law firms is even more difficult: we don’t even have a product to sell (by the way, this was an online business type that Clemons failed to cover).

As legal advertisers, we have the unique challenge of marketing services that, prior to the 1980 Bates case, we couldn’t, by law, even advertise. As it is, we still run the risk of violating ethics rules that are unique in 50 different states–let’s not even mention the international legalities. And don’t forget that we still, in this day and age, must persuade lawyers who still believe that any form of advertising or marketing is crass.

So how do legal marketers promote our lawyers in today’s marketplace? How do legal services fit into the online community? How do law firms position themselves online to maximize their exposure with out violating the market and their own sensibilities?

For, remember, at the end of the day, the only thing that is of real value to a lawyer is his reputation. And the service that lawyers sell is that reputation because, potentially, his reputation can stop a case in its tracks. A lawyer’s reputation, intelligence, personality and persuasiveness is what wins a negotiation, a trial and closes a deal.

Try marketing THAT online.

We, as legal marketers, learned very quickly that it “takes a village” to market a law firm. There is no one channel that will make a person think when trouble hits the door, “Oh, I better call Firm XYZ.”

Instead, legal marketing demands a consistent stream of a sophisticated blend of print, television, radio, online and face-to-face encounters. The ratio in that blend may change over time as measurements become more sophisticated and new ingredients, like Second Life or XML radio, may be added. But marketers will never stop using any one of these channels.

Print is still viable; maybe not in the manner we are used to using it, but print will always have its place. Online is still viable. It is no longer the “free-for-all” it once was but it, too, has its place if an ad company has accurate metrics.

Because, in the end, that is what is needed: consistent metrics for measuring ad traffic. Until all the web analytics tools and advertisers develop a consistent way to measure their ad rate, buying businesses will not trust them nor wish to invest ad dollars for services that don’t deliver.

So to turn a phrase, caveat vendor.

The AP announced yesterday that it was going to take “all actions necessary” to stop ISPs from pirating news content and streaming it across their sites, raising copyright concerns about the terms of “fair use”.

In an attempt to save their tumbling profits, hold off bankruptcies and defend their current business models, the newspapers are going for the big guns/deep pockets.

Its like watching dinosaurs fight with cockroaches.

Did I just say that?

This is the worst kind of defense in the war of survival of the fittest. Don’t these newspapers realize that they are fighting for their existence? Its like the captain of the Titanic trying to use his compass to gain his bearings as his ship sinks down into the deep, icy waters.

The AP is now reversing a decision they made 10 years ago that allowed ISPs to use their content for free. Now AP claims to be developing a rights-managed system that will rival Google and Yahoo’s news channels.

I think it is all too much a little too late.

More than 14,000 journalists have been laid off over the last 2 years. Just where do the newspapers think these journalists went–perhaps online to write news content?

The AP just announced war.

Brave, perhaps, but misguided. Because someone is going offend them and then the AP is going to sue an ISP and waste what precious money they have left paying for lawyers, law firms, discovery, trial time and appeals.

If all those laid off journalists were smart, they’d start their own, independent news source and sell their services to Google and Yahoo. Now there’s using your noggin!

Because you know that this war isn’t going to end well.