I know that we’ve talked for years about the amount of information that people give out freely via social media platforms, but I haven’t seen any video that’s better than Jack Vale’s Social Experiment in showing strangers how much he can know about them just by reviewing their social media posts.

For those Fall Associates, next year’s Summer Associates, or the Senior Partners that post on social media site, have them take a look at this video to see just how easy it is to gather information. Of course, as someone that conducts research for a living… tell them to keep on posting. It makes me look very good when I’m able to report on a potential lateral and give out quality information like their kids’ names, where they like to vacation, and where they frequent on the weekends.

My favorite part of the video comes around the 3:15 mark where one of the ‘pranked’ victims says “Thanks for invading my privacy.” I don’t think he understands what privacy means. He’s not alone.

Image [cc] Aftab Uzzaman

Interesting post from Julie Neidlinger entitled, “Who You Follow on Social Media Is Changing You.” I read it over the weekend and really didn’t think too much about what she was saying at the time, but I sent out at Tweet to let others know the article was worth a read. Caren Silverman sent a follow up to my tweet where she asked “Have you experienced this?” It was that response that made me go back to the original article and begin asking how much am I affected by those that I follow on social media??

The juxt of the article says that the five people you spend the most time change your Mind, Attitude, and your Interests, and that you should select those people carefully… both in your physical world, and your online world.

I have a pretty small circle of people I hang out with in the ‘real world’, but a very large circle of people I hang out with in social media. In both worlds, there is such a diversity in the relationships that I feel that I really shouldn’t introduce them to each other as they have such different opinions that they wouldn’t get along. I especially noticed this during the 2012 presidential election, and right now I see serious divides along the whole Paula Deen situation. I really like this diversity because it gives me different perspectives, even though I’m pretty set in my opinions. Hearing multiple opinions of the same topic really helps me solidify my own ideas, while remaining empathetic to those on the other side of an issue.

The diversity also helps expose me to things that I might otherwise miss. If I only had Law Librarian friends, I might miss out on issues related to pricing or marketing. If I only had friends that listened to girl-punk-bands from Los Angeles, I might miss out on a great Jazz musician that died thirty years ago. If I only listened to my current friends, I might miss out on some events that are happening with my friends in the Army or in High School, or even from Grade School.

Speaking from my own experience, I’d have to say that who you follow does affect you because it expands your experiences. How you let it change you is really up to you. Neidlinger says that it is okay to be selective in your networks, that it is okay to say no when you don’t like how you react to certain people, and that you can be exclusive in who you include in your networks. The results of how you let others impact your own personality, beliefs, and practices are really up to you. So, choose wisely, add and weed occasionally, and always remember who were yesterday, who you are today, and who you want to be tomorrow.

Image [cc] Piecar

In the same conversation that Toby and I had regarding email created a way for lawyers to not talk with their clients, we also discussed how people you’ve ‘met’ via social media sometimes don’t match up to their personalities when you meed them in person. Someone that may be very extroverted on Twitter or Facebook somehow turn into a very introverted person when you meet them in person. I had something like this happen to me when I was in Los Angeles on vacation.

When I was in LA back in January, I caught a concert and loved the local band that opened up the show. The members of the band and I had a great conversation, and said to look them up on Facebook and to let them know if I ever made it back to LA. So, I went home, and had attempted to connect with the three members. I got three very distinct results:

  • Member One (One) instantly followed back and we have had informal chats from time to time since meeting in January.
  • Member Two (Two) connected a few weeks later, but has never really had any substantial interaction since.
  • Member Three (Three) never connected.

As it would turn out, I went to Los Angeles on vacation with one of my daughters and the band just happened to be playing a show. I reached out to One and said I was coming and One gave me all the details on when and where they were playing and that they were happy we were coming out. Other than posting a couple of ‘likes’ on the Facebook event page, and commenting that we were coming, I didn’t have and interaction with Two or Three.

The day of the show, we make our way to the event, an hour or more from our place in LA (which with the way the 101 works, could have simply been ten miles away.) We show up a bit early and notice that the band hasn’t arrived yet. When they do, the reaction of the members didn’t quite match up with what I expected after a long social media interaction.

  • One acted like we were strangers… eventually relenting once I stuck out my hand to re-introduce myself, but remained distant and clearly uncomfortable.
  • Two acted like we were old friends and was happy we’d made the trek out to see the band.
  • Three never connected (at least that was consistant!!)

It wasn’t the first time that I’ve met social media ‘friends’ only to find out that they had an “online personality” and then they had their real personality. I was, however, a little disappointed that someone I thought would be ‘cool’ to hang out with and talk face-to-face turned out to not really be as fun as I anticipated. On the other hand, it was ‘cool’ to interact with someone that turned out to be much more social than their social media personality. Of course, having a third participant who was consistant made this little experiment a wash.

Now that I’m back home, I noticed that things are going back to the online normal pattern. One suddenly has become social again… Two is there, but not all that interactive… and Three still hasn’t connected. It was an interesting experience. I guess I should make more of an effort to get Two to be more engaging online between now and my next LA trip. The next time I’m in LA, I’ll attempt to engage more with One and see if that brings out the online extroverted personality traits. As for Three… we’ll still probably not connect, after all, why break that consistancy?

As I was riding back from Austin, Texas yesterday afternoon, looking out the windows at the remains of the Bastrop fire from two years ago, I got the first news of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. It brought back the thoughts of me hunkering down in the basement of the Oklahoma City University School of Law fourteen years ago. My fingers danced across my phone going back and forth between social media sites, CNN, and KFOR television’s web broadcast looking for more information on what was going on. The sickening combination of déjà vu and helplessness started drifting over me in waves.

It is strange how we are so connected these days to others around the world. Almost no place seems to be foreign to us any longer. We could track our friends through their posts on Facebook, and fear for those that hadn’t yet updated their status to let us know they were okay. We could hear from old friends who had long since moved away from Oklahoma, relive those past tornado experiences, and send prayers, best wishes, and contributions to their friends that remained and were currently affected by the latest storms. I reached out to my cousin in Boston to determine if his sister in Moore, Oklahoma had contacted him yet to let him know she was okay. The connections were both comforting, and unsettling. I felt like I could know exactly what was going on at any moment, and frustrated by the reality that I really didn’t have that power.

After 20 minutes, I received a message back from my cousin saying that his sister was fine and that the tornado went south of her existing home, and just north of the home she and her husband were building. They were thankful to have been spared, once again from the third F4 or F5 tornado (May 3, 1999; May 8, 2003, and May 20, 2013) to strike the Oklahoma City suburb in fourteen years.

I turned back to Facebook to track other friends (mostly librarians) in the area.
My good friend, and fellow AALL Board Member, Katie Brown, was having nearly the same experiences I had back in 1999. She posted on Facebook that she was:

In the basement of the law library stay safe people!

She was actually with some of the same people I sat with in that very basement. I could picture sitting along the walls of that lower level looking back and forth between the doors of the bathrooms, the other library staffers and a few law students that were there for their final exams, and the doors that went in both directions toward the serials collection and the National Reporter sets. I’m sure the building has changed with the renovations over the past dozen years, but I still see the old layout as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. In 1999, my pregnant wife and two-year old daughter were on the opposite side of the damage. In 2013, Katie’s husband and kids (well, cats) were also on the other side of the destruction. It was bizarre watching the updates and understanding what would happen next as she made her way back across a broken terrain to reunite with her family, just as I had done so many years ago.

As a librarian in Oklahoma, there is kind of a trend of living in Norman, and working in Oklahoma City. The idea is to enjoy the college-type atmosphere and more liberal settings of Norman, and actually make a living in your profession in the more populous OKC region (that is, if you absolutely can’t find a job in Norman that pays a decent wage.) The drive each day takes you up I-35 via Flood Ave or  24th Ave and you pass through Moore each morning and afternoon. I’ve been gone from the area for more than 10 years now, but can still remember taking the 25 minute drive every day from my North Norman residence to the Administrative Office of the Courts building just blocks away from the State Capitol building. Moore wasn’t a place we went to… it was a place we drove through.

As I watched update after update come in from friends, I started remembering how difficult it was to drive back home to Norman that night back in 1999. That 25 minute trip became a five-hour journey. My Oklahoma librarian friends were having to make that same journey last night.

One friend posted:

I am going to take Sara Road down to Highway 9, then back up into Norman. If anyone knows why this won’t work, let me know.

Katie posted:

Just got the all clear to leave the basement. But there is a tornado between my work and my house so I am staying in okc for awhile.

Then the wait began to see the next post, knowing it would be hours from now, to confirm that they made it home safely. Four hours later, both had confirmed they made it. My initial reaction was relief… then I had a twinge of jealousy that they beat my travel time by an hour. I chalked that up to having a cell phone, social media and GPS to guide them around the roads they had most likely never traveled before.

Like I said earlier, it is strange at how connected we are these days. You feel empowered, yet helpless at the same time. I’m not sure if it is a good thing or bad thing, it’s just a thing we all have to get used to. Now time to go back to Facebook and check in to make sure everyone else is okay.

I just saw my first Auto-Reply text message for someone that is driving. At first you may say, “Greg, that’s a good idea, because I hate seeing people text and drive!” And, I would agree with you. However, my first experience of the Auto-Reply Text was actually via a Facebook post. I’m sure it won’t be the last time I see it, and I can tell you right now that I’m already annoyed by it.

AT&T’s DriveMode AutoReply, or Sprint’s Drive First are a great ideas. While you are driving, and someone texts you, it will automatically send out a reply like this:

AT&T DriveMode AutoReply: Thanks for your msg. I’m driving and unable to reply. I will get back to you soon. When it comes to texting & driving, it can wait

Again, great idea, but the problem with texting these days is that it is no longer just a plain text. People have many of their social media resources connected to their text messaging platforms, and the lines get blurred on what’s a text versus a post versus a status update. So, the simple idea of auto replying to someone that you are driving, and are being safe, really isn’t something that you need to put as a Facebook reply, or Tweet.

I know that it is all easily fixed by going in and changing your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogger, Tumblr, Instagram, etc., etc., accounts to ignore those autoreplies. But, that can be quite a task, and almost as annoying as the autoreply itself, or even as annoying as this Dale Earnhardt Jr. commercial’s “But, who sent the text??” portion.

Remember: Don’t text and drive!! I’m tired of having to honk at you when the light turns green!!

Image [cc] theanthonyryan

I found a cool resource a couple weeks ago and think it has some definite possibilities for those Client Development and Monitoring projects that many of us have to create and maintain these days. The idea is to use information that companies dissemenate on Facebook, but in the more managable form of an RSS feed.

Now Facebook used to allow you to convert a public page into an RSS feed (it was tricky, but doable) up until last November when it (apparently) changed its policy and nixed it unless the company specifically change the settings to allow for RSS. That is a shame, but not surprising, as how could they make money on all those ads if you were getting information without going straight to the Facebook site??

I use RSS feeds to pass into my InfoNgen account (I assume that the other products out there for aggregation should do this, too), and set up Client or Industry monitoring news and alerts based on those feeds. I really liked having the Facebook feeds because it tended to give more “what’s happening right now” information than the company’s website. So, I found it to be pretty valuable information. Perhaps some of the other aggregators can index Facebook pages directly, but InfoNgen doesn’t because Facebook apparently prohibits aggregators from doing so. However, why should I let a little thing like Facebook rules keep me from figuring out how to do it?? In other words, “Okay Facebook, challenge accepted!”

Here’s what I found that can do the trick, and my process that keeps it manageable.

  1. Have the user set up a generic Facebook account.
  2. Find the Facebook page that you want to monitor and “Like” that page (it can be individual or company)
  3. Go to http://fbrss.com and connect that Facebook account with this service
  4. The FBRSS page will take all of your “LIKE” pages and create an RSS feed for each of them.
  5. Copy the RSS links and request that they be added into your aggregator (or into your own RSS Feed Reader*)

I think this will work (at least until Facebook screws with something and causes the FBRSS service to fail.) Let me know if you get this to work in other aggregators, or if you have other tricks of dissemnating RSS Feeds that you don’t mind sharing with the rest of us.

*By the way… I’m still ticked that Google is killing off Google Reader. They have really thrown a monkey wrench in many of my add-on features (like Shaunna Mireau discusses on SLAW) that I’ve developed over the years using Google Reader as the resources!! I give you a “-1” on that Google! Boo!!

Honestly answer the following questions:

  • What did two of your High School classmates do this weekend?
  • What is the favorite band of one of your peers that you hang out with at your professional conferences?
  • Can you find a link to an article that someone you follow on Twitter, but you have never actually met, wrote the last week?

Now, answer these same questions:

  • What did two of your law firm Partners do this weekend?
  • What is the favorite band of the Practice Group Leader you talked to last? (Or, any PGL for that matter.)
  • Can you find a link to an article that ANY attorney in your firm wrote last week?

Isn’t it a bit strange that in this age of information, we know more about people we haven’t met in 25 years, if ever, than we do about the people that work down the hall from us?

Of course, most of us are gathering this type of information through our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and apparently, even Google+, these days. At the law firm, however, many of these same resources are blocked or discouraged, and no viable (AKA, “secure”) alternatives are being offered to help co-workers get to know each other beyond the breakroom discussion, or the occassional CLE luncheon.

Is it really important to know what the Associate down the hall is planning this weekend? Is it critical that you can name a band of the PGL for Bankruptcy? Will you suffer in your work if you didn’t know that Partner X wrote an article in the State Bar Association Journal last month?

If your firm doesn’t allow for social media interaction, then it would seem the answer is no. It seems that there is a lot of interaction going on in the world, but within firms, the only approved version is actually a platform called InterAction, and it has very little to do with the type of communications we are using to connect with others in the world. It does seem a shame that I know less about the people I spend 8 – 10 hours a day in the same office than I do about someone I haven’t actually met face-to-face.

I suspect as long as this type of social interaction is seen as wasteful by most law firms, I’ll continue to get updates on the status of my High School friend’s new Great Dane puppy, Max, than I’ll know about what’s going on in the life of the Partner down the hall. After all, it’s probably safer that way. Ignorance is not only bliss, it’s secure!

I, Sophia Lisa Salazar, come by my geekness honestly. Born of a math wizard who programmed way before computer classes existed, my sisters are, respectively, a calculus teacher and the other, a patent attorney with an MBA and two engineering degree. Against them, my humble J.D. glitters like pyrite.

So you can only imagine the ambivalent, introverted silences that drop like big globs of gravy after our Christmas dinner has been eaten. The only thing breaking up the energy drain is an adolescent-aged nephew hopped up on sugar aggravating his wannabe-math-Ph.D. brother.

Until I gave the boys my home-made gifts constructed from old ’70s record album featuring the Fifth Dimension. Needless to say, neither of them had heard of the group.

Now, I have mentioned before that I don’t do cable. Instead, I have a dedicated laptop hooked up to my flat screen TV so I can stream Netflix and Hulu. So I YouTubed “One Less Bell to Answer” by the Fifth Dimension.

What ensued was one of the funniest Christmases our family ever had. Realizing the possibilities, my math-aspiring nephew jumped up and shared “Merry Christmath”, followed by hyperactive nephew’s favorite “Funny Cats” video, my mother’s favorite “Hamlet, the mini pig, goes down the stairs”, one sister’s “Extremely Scary Ghost Elevator” video and the other sister’s  obligatory nod to Gangnam Style (although, for the record, she says she can’t stand it). And to round it out, my brother-in-law brought back an oldie-but-goodie from the TV show Who’s Line Is It, the Richard Simmons episode.

And to show we had some class, my oldest nephew turned us on to Spike Jonze’ video of a joint performance by the world-renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma and jookin’ dancer Lil Buck.

We watched about 15 videos in all, laughing, wondering and thinking about this wonderful world that the computer has given us. What better way for a family of mathmeticians and geeks to spend Christmas?

Happy Holidays, everyone.

And with that, I will leave the sound of the 12 Days of Christmath ringing in your ears …

Pinterest announced a new feature last Friday–secret boards.

Now, I know you are wondering: why in the world would a law firm care about Pinterest? Well, as I suggested in an earlier post, Pinterest is law firm-friendly. You just need to be creative!

So what can a law firm do with secret boards? Well, for one, keep track of competitors and clients, of course!

Another nice feature is that it you can invite folks to a private board to view your photos. I find Pinterest to be a great place to look at very large graphics, particularly infographs and charts. So if you had to showcase a large number of graphics to  a disparate group, this would  be a perfect spot to do so. They can leave comments and mark items as favorites.

Secret boards are also a perfect way to build your boards and test-drive them before a launch. We all know how lawyers want everything to be perfect before we push send. So this is a way for us marketers to set up a board, pick just the right images and arrange the lay-out before it goes live.

And, as always, make sure that you have rights to post the images that you are using–we don’t want to run afoul of the law.

Just a few thoughts on how to use my new favorite social media site!

I’ve heard this this latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, is to be the best one yet. Spy extraordinaire, man-about-town, and basically the alpha-est of the alpha males, every male that I know wants to be him.

So how can you let your inner spy out when doing your super-sleuthing?

Here are a couple of tips for those of you who have never thought to use social media for research purposes:

  1. Anonymity. Don’t do what James Bond does, being all tuxedoed out and gorgeous looking. Down play yourself. Turn on your privacy settings. If you are going on LinkedIn, make sure your broadcast activity settings, status update settings and “what do others see when you view their page” settings are off.
  2. Look at everything. Many people stop at doing a simple people search on LinkedIn, looking for connections. Dig deeper. Look at LinkedIn company sites, job postings; Google+; Twitter streams, followers and followings; blog scrapings.
  3. Connect the dots. Speculate, put two and two together. If someone is asking for information about one specific issue, pull back and try to get a view of the bigger picture and how your client’s request might fit into the bigger scheme of things going on in their industry. That will open doors to new avenues to investigate. This is where you can really shine and show off your knowledge about an industry.
Now this all sounds really vague but, as I have said before about marketing, it is an art, not a science. It is about knowing your industry, the market and your client to deliver the crown jewels. 
Be part James Bond, part Nancy Drew and part Cat Woman. Hey, that’s what I strive for!