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

Boiling Frogs, Changing Behavior | Knowledge Management

Let me begin with the end in mind:

Take Aways: (1) Gradual change may be more effective than abrupt change; (2) KM has broad reach and impact; (3) KM and change management (CM) are inseparable.

How do you boil one of these?

It has been said that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out; but if you place a frog into a pot of cool water and slowly raise the temperature to a boil, you’ll have dinner (if you like frog legs). Some have disputed the veracity of this claim (experiments date back to the late 1800s). I’ve never tried it; but true or not, there is a point. Beings (frogs or humans) react differently to abrupt changes than they do to slow, gradual changes.

Yahoo is applying this theory (in a much more animal-friendly way) as it slowly changes it’s home page. A colleague pointed me to an article in the New York Times called Changing that Home Page? Take Baby Steps that discusses what they’re doing. “You could call it stealth innovation. The company’s goal is to end up several months from now with a completely different, and presumably better, front page — with its audience intact.” You might be wise to approach KM efforts the same way. However you do it, don’t forget one of the most important things: the perspectives of the people whose work lives you are changing. How will they be affected?

Knowledge management is different wherever you go. For a law firm, KM concerns (among other things) issues about who the firm knows, what the firm knows, and how the firm does what it does. That can be pretty broad and far-reaching. And dealing with the “who-what-how” issues can have a huge impact on the people in your firm. Managing the effect of that impact is part of the job of a knowledge management professional. In my opinion, knowledge management cannot exist without change management.

Nina Platt wrote about the connection between KM and CM a while ago in a piece called Change Strategies are the Key to KM. There, she has some words to the wise when dealing with the change management issues that come along with knowledge management initiatives. One message is, don’t just understand and acknowledge that change will have an impact. Be proactive. Let people know why the change is happening, what it will be like, how it will be done, and what their role will be. In other words, don’t plan to announce a major new process, procedure or application on a Friday afternoon and launch it on Monday morning. Ease them into it. Raise the heat slowly so it’s not such a shock to their systems.

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

Attorney 2.0 – Generation Y in Your Law Firm

Ready or not, there is a new generation of lawyers headed your way. Since “two point zero” is all the buzz these days, we can call this group “Attorney 2.0,” if you like. But before the whole “two point zero” craze, there was the “Generation __” craze. It started with Generation X (attribute whatever characteristics you like), the term that increased in popularity in the 1990s.

Then came Generation Y, those born between 1983 and 1997 (some define Gen Y as “current 13 to 30 year-olds”). However you define them, some Gen Y’ers are now young adults and some of those young adults are lawyers – and they are working at your law firm. Right now.

“So what?” you may ask. Here’s the thing: Generation Y is different because they grew up on the Web. In a ReadWriteWeb piece called Why Gen Y is Going to Change the Web, Sarah Perez discusses some of these imminent changes. As Perez puts it, Gen Y is “the most digitally active generation yet, having been born plugged in.” Here is the key take-away for those legal KM folks among us:

Work Tools Need to Mirror Web Tools: Gen Y will drive adoption of “Enterprise 2.0” products and services. Gen Y in the workplace will not just want, but expect their company to provide them with tools that mirror those they use in their personal lives. If socializing on Facebook helps them get a sale, then they’re not going to understand why they can’t use it at work. For more buckled down companies, if workers aren’t provided with the tools they want, they’re going to be savvy enough to go around I.T.’s back and get their own.

* Check out the SlideShare presentation, The Gen Y Guide to Web 2.0 @ Work, below.

For all of us struggling over the issue of whether knowledge management is about technology or culture, well, when talking about Gen Y lawyers, the answer is “yes.” In other words, for the Attorney 2.0 set, technology is their culture. Sharing, collaboration, social networking, tagging, and voting (and all of that other web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 stuff) is their culture. [See Doug Cornelius’ post about his survey of summer associates’ use of social networking websites]. These lawyers grew up on the Web. They are accustomed to changes; rapid changes. They roll with it and look forward to it. They are not “change averse” like the generations before them.

Will Gen Y lawyers tag legal documents in your DMS? You bet. Will they comment on a blog post or contribute to a wiki? Definitely. Will they subscribe to RSS feeds? Absolutely. Will all of this replace the monthly litigation department meeting where people share knowledge and collaborate face-to-face? Of course not.

Generation Y lawyers organize their digital lives with the tools of the web (Delicious, Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader, Newsvine, Netvibes, etc.). They will want to do the same at work because it will help them be more productive. Isn’t that one of the goals of knowledge management?

For the Attorney 2.0 Generation, this is not innovation: it’s a no brainer.

[slideshare id=396865&doc=genyweb20-1210364558509716-8&w=425]

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

Google Maps & Wikipedia & Photos Mashup | Knowledge Management

Google Maps has integrated Wikipedia data. It’s a handy addition. In the normal map view, click the “more” button at the top of the map. It offers two selections: Wikipedia and Photos. Photos are nice, but the Wikipedia elements are great. Click Wikipedia and the map populates with several W’s. Click on a W and see a location-based Wikipedia entry. Try the interactive map of Manhattan, below (you can also try out the photos from here). Very handy when you are looking for something to do in a new city or vacation spot.

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&lci=lmc:wikipedia_en&ll=40.757108,-73.978629&spn=0.024901,0.033603&z=15&iwloc=10502336559700101480&output=embed&s=AARTsJqsB_3JFpq1nGHyx4E_01_y-EyFwQ&w=425&h=350]

The Enterprise is YOU! | Knowledge Management

With most of my time devoted to knowledge management at a law firm, I often forget about my own needs. I’ve got a lot of digital stuff in various silos that could use the KM treatment. At home, on my iMac, it’s not a problem because I have Spotlight. I can find just about anything on my iMac pretty quickly. But I have a lot of stuff on the web – and it’s not all that easy to find. Off the top of my head, here are some of the web applications that I use frequently:

  • Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail (multiple accounts), iGoogle, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google Reader, Upcoming.org, Meetup.com, WordPress, Digg, Delicious, Twitter, Netvibes, Picasa, Mac Web Galleries.

In the Google applications alone, I have a lot of pretty important information. My Gmail contact information is more up-to-date than my Outlook contacts at work.

In some ways — on a smaller scale, of course — I have the same problems as a large enterprise: there’s a lot of information and no easy way to find it. If I am looking for contacts, for example, I can go to Gmail, LinkedIn, or Facebook. But, I have to go to each and search them individually. And with new web applications popping up all the time, it’s only going to get worse.

I need a search engine for the enterprise called “me.” One search box that will tap into all of my online silos. Clearly, Google should be the one to offer such a solution.

Google already has Google Custom Search, which allows you to build a search box that searches specific sites to the exclusion of others. Several KM folks have written about Custom Search. See here, here and here [Doug, I think there’s a KM blog missing from your KM Sites Search list 😉 ].

So, Google, let’s take Custom Search one step further: maybe call it “Personalized Custom Search” or “iCustom Search” or “Self Search.” Give me the ability to search all of my web apps in a secure, password-protected way. One search that hits all of my web apps. So, when I do a search for my business contact, “Jim Smith,” the results include emails to and from Jim, pictures of Jim that I tagged in Picasa (and in Facebook), a Google Map that shows me where Jim’s office is (based on the information in my Gmail contacts), Jim’s LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, the activities that Jim will be attending from Upcoming.org and Meetup.com (because he is tagged as a friend), his Twitter posts and Delicious tags, etc., etc.

While you’re at it, please make an advanced search page that allows me to select or un-select certain web apps. Now, is that too much to ask?

By the way, I created the image with Gliffy. Check it out.

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

Wiki Webinar – March 19, 2008 | Knowledge Management

This is a PBWiki Webinar called “Getting the most out of PBwiki 2.0 for your business” on Wednesday, March 19, 2008.  Register.

From the invite: “Join us and explore how PBwiki 2.0 can help your business get more from your wiki. Explore examples of using folders and access controls, as well as how you can customize your wiki’s look in seconds, just based on your company logo.  Plus, ask the PBwiki team your questions.”

I’m looking forward to this because I am not crazy about PBWiki 1.0.

See other LawyerKM wiki posts.

See a page with all of my favorite blogs (many of which also discuss wikis).

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

Google's Universal Search for Law Firms & Interwoven | Knowledge Management

Google’s Universal Search for Law Firms & Interwoven  

Presentation on March 12, 2008, Vijay Koduri, Marketing Manager, Google Enterprise and Gautam Malkamekar of Persistent Systems. 

My notes from the presentation:

  • Google Enterprise overview:
    • “mission organize the world’s information…”
    • enterprise information (i.e. info behind the firewall) is 40% world’s information.
  • 600 Google employees dedicated to G Enterprise.
  • 15,000 customers.
  • Google Apps – the suite of apps (now also including Google Sites [see my gripe about Sites here]).
  • 2000 new Apps customers every day!
  • “Search is the starting point to the world’s information.”
  • Knowledge workers (“KWs”) spend 25% of time looking for information.
  • KWs search about 5 repositories looking for information.
  • Expertise location is important 
  • Impact on business is loss of productivity, not optimizing billable hours.
  • What is Universal Search?
    • one search searches multiple repositories
    • the results are delivered without categorizing
    • the results are ranked by relevancy
    • an example of Universal search is Google’s Moma internal knowledge base
  • Universal search allows client access via extranets (security is observed to only give access to allowed material).
  • ROI: increase of billable hours – eliminate some time searching so that billers can spend some of that time doing billable activities (time is money).
  • The Google Search Appliance (GSA) searches pretty much all repositories in the enterprise (file shares, intranets, databases, enterprise apps, content management).
  • “OneBox” – Can make real time queries into various apps (ex. see a snapshot of a regional sales report in the search results – not just a link to the report).
  •  Case Study: Akin Gump (not many details).
    • deployed GSA
    • used it to search intranet pages

Second part of webinar – Persistent Systems & Live demo 

The info here is spare because there were some technical problems)

How Universal Search is “extended” to interwoven

  • Persistent Systems overview
  • Connector Deployment – there is Persistent Systems connector between the Interwoven databases and the GSA (fed via XML)
  • Quick – easy install, simple configuration. 

Live demo of Connector

  • an apparently simple “walk through” set up – it took 5 minutes. 
  • A Google browser is used, allowing to search just public content or public & secure content. 
  • only content to which the user has access appears – demonstrated this feature by signing in as different users with different access credentials. 
  • demonstrated Google OneBox – shows relevant real time information in the search results.
  • They can also connect into other DMS products, like Hummingbird

Q&A:

  • The GSA is a closed box and Google does not share the info with anyone outside of the enterprise
  • GSA can search MS Exchange databases, too.
  • It can search across multiple Worksite servers in different geographical locations.
  • Security is checked
  • The search must originate from the web page, but can be embedded in FileSite, with some custom work.
  • Pricing: based on number of documents in organization.  Starting $30,000 (for two-year license, hardware, software, support) for 500,000 documents.  Can index up to 30 million documents with stacked GSAs.
  • There is a small business version of product “Google Mini” 50,000 documents – $3,000.
  • Application can search Word Perfect, as well as Word and many, many other file types.
  • Information can be compartmentalized so that only certain people can see it.
  • Works with single sign on mechanisms. 
  • OneBox works by doing a real-time query. 
  • Google does not keep your search statistics, but you can keep track of your own search statistics within the enterprise with Google Analytics. 
  • They skipped my question: how many Am Law 100 firms have deployed GSA and how many have deployed the Persistent Systems connector?

Webinar is archived here.

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

Innovation at Google – a day in the life | Knowledge Management

This was a fantastic webinar from KMWorld and Google:

Innovation @ Google: A Day In The Life

On March 11, 2008, Naveen Viswanatha, Sales Engineer at Google Enterprise gave a really great presentation. 

My notes from the presentation: 

  • Broad background of Google and Google Enterprise, touting customer base, etc.
  • Internet Evolution – from information to distribution & communitaction to network & platform.
  • Chronology of how Google evolved with the internet – timeline with their many online products.
  • “Innovation is at the core of Google’s competiveness.” 
  • 70-20-10 Rule – i.e. Google splits its business focus: 70% focus on core business (Search, Ads, Apps); 20% on things with strong potential (blogger, Picassa, News, Pack); 10% Wild and Crazy (offline adds, wifi, transit).   
  • How Google hires people – the hiring process is “painfull.” (See Fast Company article: “Our hiring process is legendary”
  • Google has a relatively flat management structure. 
  • Internal tool called “Snippets” (a nag email: what did you work on last week? – what are you working on this week?) – so you can track your work.  AND it is a knowledge-base tool because everyone else can search all other snippets and get information on what they may be working on. 
  • Google Ideas database – post and review ideas within Google – people can comment on and vet out the ideas.  The ideas might turn into an actual project.  [plus, it records the things that are Google’s intellectual property] – it uses the “wisdom of the crowds” philosophy.
  • Innovation is a collaborative process at Google –  “Innovation = Discovery + Collaboration (+ Fun)” 
  • First day at Google is “like drinking from a firehose”
  • Any questions – go to “Moma” – Google’s internal knowledge base – search of their key knowledge areas. 
  • Can look for experts within the company – Google expert search within Moma – lots of an individual’s information is searchable (including resumes, which they encourage people to keep up to date).   
  • Search results within Moma – you can take notes in the search results (of the things that you are searching) – uses Google Docs [I used Google Docs to take notes for this blog post] – and you can publish the notes — it publishes it out to the people you want (they use gMail, chat, Goolge Calendar – can overlay colleague’s calendars on top of your own so that you can schedule meetings, etc.). 
  • Regarding the notes – others can make changes to your notes (which you created in Google Docs) in real time – you can see the changes on your screen. 
  • It’s all about the “…ability to find and leverage collective wisdom of the organization…” 
  • How are experts are established?  Expert databases are hard to keep upto date.  So they leverage the things that people do already: resumes, blogs, wikis, Snippets, Moma, etc.
  • Are these tools avaiable to the public?  Yes and no.  Search is the key enabler to tap into the repositories that are already in use at your organization (touting Google Search Appliance). 

The event is archived: here  

I really encourage people to check this out.  Especially those who are new to KM.  This presentation gave a glimpse into Google as a company and it shows off some great ways that any organization can approach KM. 

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