Keep Tabs Without RSS Using Google Reader

Since I’ll be discussing External Knowledge Management: Using Internet Resources to Your Advantage at LegalTech next week (see my post about it), I thought I’d share a new Google tool that can help.

Google Reader is not new, but Google just announced a new feature that allows you to follow changes to any website — even those that do not offer RSS feeds.

It’s simple: find the website you’d like to track, copy the URL into the “Add a subscription” field in Google Reader, then click “create a feed.”  I did it for my firm’s website’s articles page:


According to Google: “Reader will periodically visit the page and publish any significant changes it finds as items in a custom feed created just for that page.”

Obviously, this is a great tool for keeping up with clients’ websites that don’t offer RSS feeds.  But even if a website has RSS feeds, you may want to set up the Google Reader tracker for parts of websites that the RSS feeds do not cover.  For example, if a company has a web page listing employees, it might not publish changes to that page with an RSS feed.  You can keep tabs on who joins or leaves the company by using this new Google Reader feature.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Does Anybody Know…? – a new website helps you get answers from your network.

aardvarkThere’s an impressive new website called Aardvark that helps you answer the question: “Does anybody know…?”  by tapping your online networks.  This is not a search engine.  The results are not a list of websites that may or may not get you the answers you need.  The results are from real people in real time.

So, how does it work?  Sign up at the Aardvark site [click here].  It requires that you have a Facebook [my page] account (other networks will be integrated in the future).  From the Aardvark site you can ask a question by simply typing your query into the box.  If you add your instant messaging (like Google Talk, AIM or Windows Live Messenger) and or email account information, you can ask questions via IM and email, too.  According to the site, “Aardvark first looks for a friend or friend-of-friend who can answer your question. If there are only a few people in your network, Aardvark will send your question to your very extended network (friends-of-friends-of-friends-of…) to make sure that you get an answer.”

So, how well does it work?  My first question was: “What’s the best Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan?”  Within moments, I received an answer from Sara: “Becco is really great, on 46th between 8th and 9th(?). possibly 9th and 10th. it’s a little pricy but if you want to eat in midtown that’s the norm.”  Not bad.

Then I asked, “Where is the best place to see the 2009 Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display in NYC?”  I happen to know that, this year, the barges from which the fireworks are launched will be along the Hudson River (not the East River, as in years past) and according to Macy’s, the best place to view the show is on the west side: 12th Avenue below 59th Street, so this was a bit of a test.   The first answer came from Ling: “bring a chair to sit on the FDR, or watch it from someone’s rooftop.”  That would have been good advice last year, but the FDR is on the east side of Manhattan.  The second answer came from Josh: “Battery Park is a good place, also top of the Empire State Building.”  Again, Battery Park — at the southern tip of Manhattan, was good viewing for last year’s show, but this year?  Not so much.

So, is Aardvark a failure?  Time will tell as the site matures, but so far, I don’t think so.  The site and integration with Facebook, email, and IM is great.   So, mechanically, it works – I can ask questions and get answers very quickly and efficiently.  The quality of the answers is another matter.  It seems that Aardvark may be better at getting opinion answers (best Italian restaurant?) than facts (where can I see the fireworks?).  Besides, there are some questions that are best left to Google (I could have–and did–easily found the relevant information about the prime fireworks viewing with a quick web search).

The thing that sets Aardvark apart from Internet search engines is the human touch.  Sometimes, that is a good thing, and sometimes, well, it’s not.  Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to asking and answering questions on this interesting new website. And I’m looking forward to exploring how this sort of approach can advance KM efforts. So, in the spirit of the human touch, please let me know what you think of Aardvark (feel free to sign up with this link: and leave a comment below.

Photo: Tut99 on Flickr

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

RSS Battle – KnowNow vs. NewsGator

KnowNow yesterday announced KnowNow Live, “a new application designed to overcome information overload.”  It is hard to see the image on KnowNow’s beta application page for its new product, but it appears to be a portal-like RSS aggregator.  It is described as follows:

“KnowNow Live … pushes relevant information to users by providing inference and relevance through contextualization.  Additionally, KnowNow Live simplifies the management of large quantities of information, adds alerts to any content source, and provides collaborative functionality to every channel.” 

Sounds pretty “jargony,” but piques our interest. 

Among law firms, KnowNow lags behind NewsGator in numbers of customers, but KnowNow Live may help level the playing field.  And while KnowNow apparently focuses on Fortune 1000 financial services, technology, and media industries, it shouldn’t ignore law firms.  We have a lot of knowledge to manage. 

For personal RSS aggregation, we still like Google Reader (you can even read feeds offline), but for the enterprise, something more is needed.  Lawyers want to have all of the right information at the right time, but they rarely want to bother with figuring out how to get it.  For now, a managed RSS solution, maintained by a knowledge management staff is the way to go for law firms.  The technology is still young, so we’re hopeful that it will develop and be all that it can be.  Perhaps KnowNow Live is the next step in RSS evolution.  All you beta testers: please share your thoughts and experiences.  

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management for Lawyers

Search and Track the Federal Register

Justia has done it again. In addition to the Federal District Court Dockets and Filings resource, Justia has added a tool to search the Federal Register and track changes to it. The Justia Regulation Tracker (in beta) allows you to search and track rules, proposed rules, and notices from all U.S. Government departments, agencies and commissions. Best of all, of course, turn your search into an RSS feed and the changes come to you when they are published. A great knowledge management tool that helps get the right information to the right people at the right time.
Justia Regulation

Federal District Court Dockets and Filings

Justia just released a free tool that allows you to search federal district court dockets by party name, court, lawsuit type. See the press release here. Amazing. The really good part is that you can perform a search and save that search as an RSS feed and be notified anytime a case is filed that meets your search criteria. So, if you want to know anytime a lawsuit is filed against your clients, set up a search for each one and save the RSS feed. Check it out here.