The Consumerization of User Experience (UX)

ux imageI’ve spoken before about the importance of user experience (UX) design associated with the development of applications that support knowledge management initiatives and efforts.  And in fact, I’m scheduled to discuss the topic again as a part of ILTA’s presentation track at LegalTech NY in 2014.  As I ponder this topic, and as I write a section about UX in my forthcoming book about KM in the legal profession, I am reminded of the idea that I presented in my first talk about UX: that we are undergoing a phenomenon that I call the “consumerization of user experience.”

This idea is similar to the familiar phrase “consumerization of IT,” Read more

The Future of Presentations?

On the heels of my last post about using PowerPoint as a résumé, a law school friend of mine told me about Prezi – a web application that allows you to make really interesting presentations.  This PowerPoint alternative just might be the future of presentations.  Here’s an example that I made (in about ten minutes).  Let me know what you think.  Click the “play” triangle to start and then keep clicking it or use < arrow > keys to make it go:

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

PowerPoint Your Résumé? – A Challenge

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, then you know that I’m looking to hire a Knowledge Management Department & Library Coordinator.  That’s not the focus of this post, but my experience (not necessarily recently) of reviewing résumés got me thinking about innovative ways to do things.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about presentations — PowerPoint presentations in particular (as you may know from my previous post).  Could combining the two–résumés and PowerPoint presentations–be the way to stand out from the crowd?  The chocolate and peanut butter of self-promotion?

The examples below, from SlideShare, are great.  When was the last time you were so engaged by a résumé? Read more

The New York Times Chrome Web App is Amazing

Today, a friend shared a link to the New York Times Chrome Web App on Facebook.  My first reaction was: Wow!  My second reaction was to think of one of my favorite quotes by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

The web app appears to be just a web page — a very nicely designed web page.  And in effect, we might as well simply think of it that way. There may be benefits, such as content management, etc., for the publisher because it is a web app, but we can enjoy it by any name.

Probably the most important app feature is Read more

Google Buzz – The Good and The Bad

google-buzz-logoGoogle Buzz is barely out of the digital delivery room, so it may be a bit premature to start a meaningful review of the web’s newest baby.  But I’ll do it anyway.  Well, “meaningful” may be a bit of a stretch.  How about “cursory” or “preliminary?”

In case you are an under-rock dweller, here are the basics: Google announced a new web application called Google Buzz, which integrates with Google’s Gmail service.  There is also a Google Buzz mobile device application, which is accessible by pointing your mobile browser to www.buzz.google.com.  Here are some shots of how it looks on the iPhone:

iphone-buzz-2 iphone-buzz-3 iphone-buzz-1

Buzz is being rolled out over time, so if you don’t have it yet, don’t panic.  Be patient.

It’s impossible to resist a comparison to Twitter.  But, Buzz is more than just a Twitter clone.  It’s sort of a Frankenstein’s Monster of  web applications: part Twitter, part instant messenger, part email, part discussion forum, part social media aggregator, part rich media delivery tool, and part location-based social network.  Too much to cover here.

If you really want to understand it, your best bet is to watch this brief video:

You can also read this good article about it from the New York Times.

A few notes on the good and bad of Google Buzz…

The Good:

  • Google Buzz is integrated into it’s popular (176 million users strong) Gmail email service.  This means more of a centralized hub for this new pastiche of communication.  It also means that it won’t be ignored (like Google Wave? and Google Latitude?) because the Buzz link appears right under Gmail’s inbox link.
  • Integration with Twitter.  If you connect your Twitter account (also Picasa, Flickr, and Google Reader) with Buzz, your tweets flow to your Buzz stream. Double your pleasure.
  • Integration with Google Reader.  Increasingly, Reader is becoming the filter from which I find interesting content on the web.  With Buzz, I can use the Reader “share” feature to send items right into my Buzz stream so others can enjoy the good content, as well.  You can follow me on Google Reader here.
  • Mobile access & LBSN features.  Google’s first swing at Buzz for mobile is impressive.  It shows a list view and a decent map view of nearby Tweets Buzzes (see pics above).  This will help Google overcome their failed attempt at LBSN (i.e., location-based social networking (see Google Latitude).  Lookout FourSquare?
  • The @ factor.  Like Twitter, you can direct a Buzz to a user by using the “at” symbol as a prefix to an email address.  So, to send someone  a Buzz, type @email_address@gmail.com in the Buzz box.

The Bad:

  • Direct messaging? As noted, there is an @ function, but it is not readily apparent whether there is a direct (private) message shortcut function (the equivalent of using the “d” in Twitter).  You can send a private message to “a small group of your closest friends,” (see the video) but doing so is just a tad cumbersome.  Shortcut, please.
  • Searching email also searches Buzz items.  Gmail’s ability to quickly search your email items is one of it’s best features.  As of this morning, search results included Buzz results.  Not good.  Google should be able to fix this (and there may already be a filter for it).  But the default search should exclude Buzz results, or Google should simply include a button to select the content to search.
  • Buzz to email.  Some users have already complained of being  inundated with email because Buzzes are going right into their inboxes (rather than into the separate Buzz location).  This is designed to happen when someone comments on your Buzz or sends you an “@ message” – so that you don’t miss it.  There should be an option to disable this feature.
  • Speaking of comments… everything in moderation, please.  This is not Twitter: people can comment on your Buzzes.  Sounds great, unless you follow someone like Robert Scoble or Pete Cashmore (of Mashable), then it’s WAY too much information.  A recent Buzz by Scoble elicited 100 “likes” and 145 comments.  Scrolling down through all those comments to the next Buzz took a while.  And I hate to say it, but a lot of those comments were meaningless blather.  Buzz needs a “show/hide” comments link (default view to hide) to avoid this.
  • Long posts: Again, this is not Twitter.  There is no 140 character limit on what you can Buzz about.  Scoble said he likes this, but I disagree.  Twitter has gotten us used to short messages.  140 characters may be too short, but I don’t want to read War and Peace in someone’s Buzz post.  Maybe there is a limit, but I couldn’t find it.
  • A butterfly?  (See the video) I get it, I get it: social butterfly.  But shouldn’t Google have used a bee or a hornet as the mascot?

As a preemptive strike, I’ll just say that the Google Buzz integration with Gmail had better not mess up my Gmail contacts!!!  There’s already enough frustration with that as it is.

That’s it – quick and dirty.  If you’re using Google Buzz, then let’s connect.  Find my Buzz information on my Google Profile.  I’ve also created a LinkedIn Group called Google Buzz where people can discuss it (in a less buzzy, old-school discussion- forum-type of way), so join that too.

So, what are your thoughts about Google Buzz?  Please comment below.

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

Location, Location, Location Based Social Networking

The take away: Location-based social networking is about “assisted serendipity” – using technology to turn an otherwise chance encounter into a real business opportunity.

Location-based social networking (LBSN) applications are becoming quite popular.  They are not entirely new, however.  Here’s a nice list of LBSN sites – some of which have been discontinued, including the Google-owned Dodgeball (replaced by Google Latitude).  The most hyped LBSN app is Foursquare.  If you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, then you know that I’ve been experimenting with Foursquare for several weeks now.

location-locationWhat is a LBSN?

We’ve barely wrapped our heads around Twitter, and now we’re expected to adopt yet another new-fangled social media phenomenon.  To help explain why you might want to do this, I’ll use Foursquare as an example. Here’s how it works:

Much like any social network, Foursquare members start by creating profiles and adding friends or contacts.  But unlike most SN sites, Foursquare is meant to be used on the go – from a mobile device (I use Foursquare’s iPhone App, but there are apps for BlackBerry and Android too).  Using a mobile device’s GPS or cell tower triangulation technology, Foursquare suggests nearby locations — perhaps a bar or museum or sporting event venue — where a user can “check-in.”

Users can view details about nearby places, including tips left by previous Foursquare users (e.g., “Try the bacon cheeseburger…”).  Users can also see who else has checked-in recently.  Local businesses take advantage of location-based data to help lure customers with special offers.

tasti-dFor example, on a recent trip to The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York, the nearby Tasti D-Lite shop “noticed” I was there and offered a discount on an ice cream cone if I stopped by.

There is also a “game” aspect to Foursquare.  Users collect “badges” and points for various activities like checking in to ten or more locations in a week, or for checking in to different types on places.  My favorite is the “Jobs” badge (awarded for checking in to three or more Apple Stores), which entitles you to a free “iHoverboard” if you show the badge to an Apple Genius at the store.

Foursquare also lists the times and locations where your friends check in.  If you’re really in to it, you can get an alert every time someone checks in to any location (I don’t recommend this because it will drive you crazy – especially if your Foursquare friends are active users).

Finally, you can opt link your Foursquare account with your other social networks so that your Foursquare updates appear on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter stream.  Fair warning: this might irritate your Twitter followers and Facebook friends – especially if you’re an active user – because they will be inundated with messages like “Patrick just checked in at the Apple Store…” all day long.  Rather than setting Foursquare to automatically update your other networks, set it to prompt you to choose whether to do so on a case-by-case basis.

OK….so why would I want do that?

This is the same question that we asked about LinkedIn, then Facebook, then Twitter before millions of people signed up.  There are lots of theories about why we do this social networking stuff.  But do we need yet another social network; one that lets everyone know where we are – all the time?  Well, this may fall under the Steve Jobs category of “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Do you want to let everyone know where you are all the time?  Probably not.  But that’s not the question.  The question is: Would you like a unique opportunity to connect with your contacts — in real life?

Location-based social networking is not about restaurant recommendations, or discounted ice cream, or badges.  It’s about “assisted serendipity.”  Never before have we been able to help along a chance encounter, or to take advantage of an opportunity that we didn’t even know existed.

For example, let’s say you’re traveling and have some time to kill while you wait for your flight at the airport.  Little did you know, one of your contacts–a business prospect–is there too.  You might happen to run into your contact, but given the conditions (the size of the airport, the number of people, etc.) the chances are slim.  More than a mere catalyst that simply hastens an inevitable chemical reaction, a LBSN, like Foursquare can create an opportunity — turning a potential chance meeting into a sure thing.

So, will you use a LBSN application, or is it just too much too soon?

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

“Location” Photo Credit: http://www.vegsource.com/talk/humor/messages/99895680.html

Web 2.0: Driving Innovation in the Law Firm Library

dc_speaking Steven Lastres, Don MacLeod, and I will be speaking at 9 a.m. on Tuesaday, July 28, 2009 at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

Here is some information on the program from AALL:

Target Audience: Law firm librarians who need to understand how new web technologies can foster collaboration and deliver library services.

Learning Outcomes:

1) Participants will be able to assess the benefits and pitfalls of emerging Web 2.0 technologies from three perspectives: library management, knowledge management and lawyer training.

2) Participants will be able to build a convincing business case for Web 2.0 technologies to firm management and other decision-makers.

The presentation begins with an overview of the benefits of Web 2.0 as part of an overall Knowledge Management strategy. The program will explain what the benefits are to lawyers and clients, how to calculate ROI and demonstrate why law librarians should lead the process.

After a discussion of the underlying theory driving the adoption of Web 2.0 technology, the nuts and bolts of building and deploying Web 2.0 technologies will be reviewed, including showing which technologies pay off the best (comparison of tools) and how to get buy-in from management and adoption by end users. Part of this program will look at how to integrate new technologies with existing infrastructure.

The third perspective of Web 2.0 concerns teaching lawyers how to work in a knowledge-sharing environment. This part of the program will provide guidance on how to set up a training program in the law library to help lawyers master the tools they need for sharing information in their daily practice. The program addresses how librarians can encourage lawyers to rely on them for expertise in identifying and using the right resources.

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: http://vark.com/s/hUnq) and leave a comment below.

Photo: Tut99 on Flickr

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

Another Law Firm on Twitter

Since I’ve written so much about Twitter, including a few posts about law firms on Twitter, I just had to mention another one.  It’s my law firm, Gibbons P.C., where I serve as chief knowledge officer.

gpc_twitter_bigger

I’m happy to say that we launched our Twitter page today.  You can follow Gibbons P.C. on Twitter by clicking here.  I hope you will.

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

SearchWiki from Google: a step in the right direction, but nothing new

Summary: While Google’s new SearchWiki won’t be an immediate benefit to lawyers, it may help them understand the value of commenting on and promoting content, which may lead them to want the same functionality inside the law firm.

Google announced SearchWiki on November 20, 2008. Simply put, SearchWiki is not a wiki. It is an add-on to the standard Google search function that allows you to mark search results as favorites and make a free-form comments about the results.

How it works. After performing a Google search, you’ll notice that there are three new icons near each result: (1) “Promote” – a box with an arrow pointing up to a horizontal line, used to mark a search result as a personal favorite (2) “Remove” – a box with an X, used to remove the result from your (but not other’s) future search results and (3) “Comment” – used to make personal comments, that you and others can see, about the search result.

Google SearchWiki icons

Google SearchWiki icons

After promoting or commenting on a search result, that web page will rise to the top of your future search results for the same search or other search phrases that include the result.

Nothing new. SearchWiki is nothing new, and I wonder just how useful it will be. Other web search engines have done it before: see my post on Scour (a.k.a Aftervote), which has similar promote, demote, and commenting features. The problem with these feature-rich non-Google search tools, like Scour, is that they are not Google. It is far more likely that people will use and enjoy new features in Google than to use a lesser-known substitute, like Scour.

SearchWiki also allows you to see how many other people have promoted, removed, and commented on a search result. Just go to the bottom of a search result page and click the link that says “See all notes for this SearchWiki.” (You can also see all of your own SearchWiki notes and add a result to the search if you did not see what you were looking for – OK this may be helpful.)

searchwiki-other-features

See other people's SearchWiki comments

In the example below, search results for “Obama,” there are 296 notes. Among those, the first result indicates that 103 people promoted it, 15 removed it, and 37 commented on it. Google says that the changes that you make only affect your own search results, but it is unclear if a significant number of promotions and comments alter (or will in the future alter) the search result ranking for everyone.

Google SearchWiki results for "Obama"

Google SearchWiki results for "Obama"

What does this mean for law firms? Other than being a nifty way to enhance your Web searches, what’s the impact on law firms? Well, as for Google’s offering, not much. But there are enterprise-class offerings that give you similar features. And these features in the enterprise are more than just nifty — they can be downright helpful; making it easier for lawyers to find the high-quality internal content that they need.

Apply the SearchWiki concepts to the content of the various systems in your law firm and things get interesting. You could promote, demote, and comment on documents in your document management system. But, to make it really useful, the user activity would need to affect other user’s searches. This would help separate the really good work product from the so-so work product — in a decentralized, “democratic” way, as opposed to the single-gate-keeper approach to managing content.

Interwoven Universal Search (IUS) does all that Google’s SearchWiki does, and more – but rather than applied

Interwoven

Interwoven

to the Web, it works with your firm’s internal documents and other content. IUS allows users to promote and demote content (either through a star ranking system or a thumbs up/down procedure), and make comments. Comments are key because they allow lawyers to learn aspects of documents that cannot otherwise be ascertained from the documents themselves. For example, agreements never indicate, in their four corners, whether they are favorable to one party or another; a comment about an agreement can indicate this type of valuable information.

IUS goes further than SearchWiki by allowing tagging of content for quick, easy, and personalized classification. Users of the popular social tagging website Delicious will appreciate the utility of this feature. Finally, IUS allows users to save search results into virtual folders. This is handy if you want to make a personal collection of favorite documents, but still make them accessible to the rest of the lawyers in your firm.

So, while Google’s new SearchWiki may not have an immediate impact on the way lawyers think about managing their content, it may be a step in the right direction. If lawyers become familiar with promoting and commenting on web content, soon they may want to be able to do it with their internal content, as well. It’s yet another example of how consumer-based web tools are shaping the way law firms learn from, and take advantage of, innovative new technologies.

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