Social Tagging 2.0 (Semantic Tagging) | Knowledge Management

Seeing that social tagging is already considered a web 2.0 thing, I probably should have called this post “Social Tagging 3.0” – especially because it involves semantic tagging. However, I had to balance the probable accuracy of the title with the probability that my readers would bash me for using the term “3.0.” So forget I even wrote it (even though some people associate Web 3.0 with the Semantic Web).

This is about a new semantic social tagging application called Faviki. It works like this: Add a Faviki toolbar link to your browser’s toolbar; when you are on a web page that you want to tag, click the Faviki link and instead of adding any old tag you want, Faviki will suggest tags instead. The killer feature is that unlike other tagging services (like Del.ici.ous), suggestions don’t just come from the way other users have tagged things. Rather, the suggested tags come from structured information extracted from the Wikipedia database. Of course, if there are no appropriate tags suggested, you can add your own. ReadWriteWeb (one of my favorite web sites) has a nice write up about Faviki. See the screen shot below (the Faviki tagging tool is in the upper right hand corner) – Click to enlarge. Post continued below image…

I like this because it’s sort of “guided tagging” and it promotes consistency. One fear in law firms (or any company for that matter) is that there will be wild and inconsistent tagging of content. This is often cited as a reason to disallow social tagging. Semantic tagging helps overcome this. It is sort of a balance between the “do-whatever-you-want” idea of folksonomies and the “my-way-or-the-highway” constraints of traditional taxonomies. Of course, the burning question of whether lawyers will tag content (whether it’s semantic tagging or not) still lingers. Perhaps the idea that self-interest will drive users to tag (as Ron Friedmann suggests) is correct. One thing is for sure: Attorney 2.0 will be willing to (and will expect to be able to) tag content.

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

Twitter Twist: Tweet 2 Tweet

Tweet 2 Tweet solves the problem of Facebook Wall withdrawal. As the SheGeeks* blog points out, if you like Twitter, but miss the “Wall-to-Wall functionality on Facebook…. This feature allows users to see only messages between [two] people. There has been no easy way to access the same functionality on Twitter nor through any of the plethora of third party Twitter conversation trackers, until now.”

*Thanks to Robert Scoble

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.


RSS Bankruptcy

After only four days without Internet access, I am considering declaring RSS Bankruptcy. There are just too many RSS feed items in my Google Reader account, and I can’t keep up.

By now, most people have heard of e-mail bankruptcy: the act of starting over by deleting most (if not all) of the e-mail messages in your in-box and requesting that people resend messages if they are really important. It’s becoming pretty popular. Maybe the next version of Microsoft Outlook should have an e-mail bankruptcy button. Here’s an article about how venture capitalist Fred Wilson declared e-mail bankruptcy last month. His message was, “I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy,” he wrote. “If you’ve sent me an e-mail (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.”

I sympathize with Wilson. I know that I’ll spend most of the day playing the “e-mail catch-up game” when I return to the office after vacation. It’s stressful. But I feel an almost equivalent level of stress when I see that I have several thousand unread RSS items in my Google Reader account. There are close to a thousand items in my KM folder alone. Part of me wants to at least skim the items, but the other part wants to simply pretend they never existed. This is nothing new, really. I wrote about it last year in RSS Overload is the New Black. So, I should have seen it coming.

For now, I’m not ready for RSS bankruptcy. I’m just going to allow the items to accumulate, read some at my leisure, and really do nothing. (I know, it’s all very Zen.) If I miss something, it’s OK. I’m sure someone will re-blog it and I’ll see it eventually. Or maybe I’ll see it on Twitter, or maybe in my FriendFeed wrap-up email. Or maybe I should follow Tim Ferriss’ lead and outsource my RSS reading, the way he outsources his e-mail. Or maybe… it just doesn’t matter.

How do you deal with RSS overload?

Update: One thing that will help is Google’s new Google Reader application for the iPhone, which is still in beta. Read about it on Lifehacker. The previous version was pretty good, but it was clearly a “light” version of the full web-based RSS reader. The new version more accurately resembles the full version. Very handy.

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

The Zero-Percent Rule | Knowledge Management

I mentioned my Zero-Percent Rule* in a previous post, Knowledge Harvest. There I stated the rule as: you should try to make any KM initiative require zero percent of an attorney’s time. This is not a rule because it is desirable to have zero input from attorneys on KM initiatives. To the contrary, I think that most legal knowledge management folks would love to have more attorney input. This is a rule because it is uncommon to get more than zero percent of an attorney’s time on KM initiatives. As I’ve said, for most attorneys, when one case or deal is done, it’s usually on to the next.

Therefore, I am revising the ZPR to state: legal KM folks should not expect more than zero percent of an attorney’s time on KM initiatives.** If we live by this rule we will not be disappointed.  And if we get some input from the lawyers, then it’s like icing on the KM cake. 

Now that we have that squared away, the Zero-Percent Rule should not be seen as an insurmountable problem. Technology is here to help. No, I am not trying to incite the age-old dispute about whether knowledge management is about technology or people or culture or whatever. Let’s agree that all of them are important. But, technology is important when you can’t get the “knowledge seekers” to participate. 

One example of how technology helps overcome the problems of the ZPR is MoFo’s AnswerBase, which is powered by Recommind.  Part of that tool enables lawyers to identify experts within the firm.  The great thing is that it is a passive system that requires no active participation by attorneys.  The idea is that expertise is determined by data from various systems.  For example, the fact that attorney Jones billed 1,500 hours last year on area of law Y (data from time and billing system) and was the author of 14 briefs on that same area of law (data from the DMS) and is the responsible attorney for several other similar matters (data from the accounting system) helps make the determination that attorney Jones probably is an expert in that area of law.  

Another example is a system like Contact Networks, which I wrote about in the Who Do We Know? post.  Such applications passively determine relationships among your lawyers, clients, potential clients, and others by mining e-mail traffic and other contact information.  Again, zero-percent attorney input.  I really like this because it helps eliminate internal spam e-mail, otherwise known as “PTI” e-mail.  You know about PTI e-mail: “Pardon the interruption, but does anyone know Mike Smith or any other senior executive at Big Corp?”  With a system like Contact Networks, or the like, those questions can be answered without spamming every single lawyer in the firm. 

How are you working to overcome the problems of the Zero-Percent Rule? 

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

* I have a feeling that this “rule” may have been met with some objection, but since LawyerKM has been–and still is–on vacation, I have no idea.  (Thanks to the magic of WordPress technology, this post, and all posts since, and including, Knowledge Harvest, were pre-written and published on a schedule.)

** I reserve the right to further revise this rule at any time.

Blogs: Empowering Employees | Knowledge Management

Blogging is not easy. It takes thought, time, and effort.

What does blogging say about bloggers? At the very least, it says that they are interested in the blog subject. Interested enough to spend time thinking, researching, writing, and editing. This is time that could otherwise be spent doing any number of things (relaxing, exercising, socializing, etc.). One might argue that blogging demonstrates more than just interest – it demonstrates a passion for the blog topic. If one’s blog is related to what they do for a living, that means passion for one’s profession. And a passionate employee is a good employee.

Should employers encourage employees to blog? Should they prohibit blogging? Should they pretend that it’s not happening? I’m not talking about whether employees should be permitted to blog on company time. While most employers would say no, Michel Anteby, in his Harvard Business Review article, Working in the Gray Zone, suggests that it may be OK, and even beneficial. Anteby says that this has to do with employees’ need to “enact their ‘occupational identities,'” (i.e. “the self-image that a person trained in a specific vocation develops as a member of that profession.”). Much the way blogging indicates a passion for the subject, “gray zones signal a higher aspiration among employees that immediate supervisors deem worthy of pursuit.”

Blogging (on your own time) is good. I know that I personally–and professionally–benefit from blogging. It makes me a better KM guy. I learn from my blog buddies, some of whom are listed in my blog roll (and on the LawyerKM Netvibes Universe). But a blog, like any medium, should not be abused. A good blogger’s guide is The Golden Rule. Another word to the wise is “don’t [write] anything you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the New York Times” (aka The New York Times Rule). (I know, I know, some bloggers would love to have their stuff published in the New York Times – anywhere in the New York Times.)

In my opinion [see opinion disclaimer], a reasonable approach is best. Lawyers love the word “reasonable.”  What does this mean? Todd Alan Ewan and Carolyn M. Plump put forth some pretty reasonable blog policy ideas in their article, To Blog or Not to Blog: An Employer’s Dilemma (although I think that they may have borrowed the title from another blog post. I’m kidding.). Perhaps another piece of guidance comes from our friends at Thomson Reuters, which recently released its Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.

Part of that code states:

It’s OK to mention Thomson Reuters in a personal blog. However, if you maintain a personal blog, it should not contain or discuss any confidential or nonpublic information about Thomson Reuters, our customers or other people or companies that we do business with. You should not cite or reference customers, employees or business associates without their approval. If your blog mentions Thomson Reuters, it should be clear that any opinions that you express are your own, and not those of Thomson Reuters. Even then, you should be mindful of the Trust Principles in discussing Thomson Reuters or any of its competitors. Further, personal blogs should never be used for internal communications among fellow employees and you should not use a personal blog to air any differences with co-workers, Thomson Reuters or people or companies that we do business with. Some Thomson Reuters businesses may have their own supplemental policies and guidelines on blogging.

That seems reasonable. And it seems that some law firms subscribe to such reasonable ideas. David Hobbie (Caselines) and Doug Cornelius (KM Space), of Goodwin Procter, write about KM topics and are pretty open about things they do at the firm. Tom Baldwin, of Reed Smith, also shares some of his KM experiences with the world via his blog, Knowledgeline. The KM community benefits from their ideas and experiences.

In the end, whether employers love it, hate it, allow it, prohibit it, or tolerate it; they shouldn’t ignore it. They need to be aware that people blog. And some of those people may be their employees. Reasonableness may be / probably is / definitely is–in my opinion–better than ignorance.

And for you bloggers out there, The Golden Rule and The New York Times Rule are good guidance, but perhaps the best way to put it is: Don’t Be Stupid.

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

Knowledge Harvest | Knowledge Management

In their article, Don’t Just Capture Knowledge – Put It to Work, Katrina Pugh and Nancy M. Dixon discuss ways to ensure that institutional knowledge is available for those who need it and not simply filed away in the archives. They use an approach called a “knowledge harvest: a systematic, facilitated gathering and circulation of knowledge.”

“The key,” they say, “is to identify, before the harvest begins, others in the organization who could use the knowledge (the ‘knowledge seekers’) and involve them in gathering valuable lessons.” The case study in the article involved a health-care consulting team. The authors reported that the knowledge seekers participated out of self interest and therefore asked “tough, exploratory questions of knowledge originators, extracting important nuances…how knowledge might be applied elsewhere, what worked and what didn’t, and so on.”

One factor not discussed was the ease with which the facilitators were able to obtain the assistance of the key participants, the knowledge seekers. For law firm KM folks, we know all too well that getting our knowledge seekers–the attorneys–to participate in knowledge-sharing activities is tough. Since KM activities don’t directly contribute to the all-important Profits Per Partner (it’s Am Law 100 season!), when they finish one case or deal it’s usually on to the next. “Post mortem” and “after action review” are not terms they teach in law school. And good luck getting attorneys involved before some “knowledge harvesting” activity begins.

Legal KM folks always have to keep in mind what I like to call the Zero-Percent Rule: try to make any KM initiative require zero percent of an attorney’s time. It’s a half joke, but painfully funny. Ask anyone involved legal knowledge management and they’ll tell you that it’s a real problem. More on the Zero-Percent Rule later.

So, to all you legal KM folks out there: Can a knowledge harvest work in a busy law firm? Is this a question of KM culture, technology, both, or neither?

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

Twitter and Follow | Knowledge Management

twitter common

Another great Common Craft video (see below). This one is about Twitter.

I like Twitter (see the link to follow LawyerKM on Twitter on the right –>>). But I’m getting a little inundated with information these days, and Twitter isn’t helping. Neither is following people like Robert Scoble, the self-proclaimed “tech geek videoblogger” and prolific twitterer (or is it tweeter?). More than 11,000 people follow Scoble on Twitter.

I like following him as a Google Reader friend because he essentially vets content for me. Well, not directly, but you get the idea: I read the stuff that he has shared because if he thinks it’s interesting enough to share, then it probably is interesting enough for me to read. (See RSS Overload is the New Black to see how Scoble rips through 600 RSS feeds in a flash with Google Reader).

And for me, “following” is the killer app of Twitter. Socially, it may be interesting to learn that a friend is shopping for a new sweater or is exhausted from a six-mile run, but in a law firm – we can take the “following” concept to a business level. Whether it’s blogs, micro-blogs, instant messages, or tagged / favorite documents, if my boss thinks it’s important, I should too. If certain information flows to (or from) smart, important people (like the senior partners in my law firm), I want to catch that flow, too.

Give young attorneys a way (other than email blasts) to capture information flows and follow senior attorneys so that they can benefit from what these smart, important people are consuming (or generating).

And by the way – if you, too, feel inundated, check out one way to get a lot of content in one space: the LawyerKM Netvibes Universe.


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

Social Network Aggregation (Pull yourself together with Netvibes) | Knowledge Management

“What is Ginger?” you may ask. It’s the new and improved release of Netvibes (the last release was called Coriander – there’s a spice theme going on here).


What is Netvibes? It’s an “ajax-based personalized [internet] start page much like Pageflakes, My Yahoo!, iGoogle, and Microsoft Live.” (see Wikipedia) It lets you bring in customized widgets and all types of other feeds or streams of information – everything from RSS news feeds to various web applications. The new release embraces social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. Last night, I tweeted from Ginger. I know that doesn’t sound good.

The Netvibes folks probably say it best: it’s a

“dashboard that’s updated live directly from all your favorite Web services (email, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, widgets) and media content (blogs, podcasts, video). Everything you enjoy on the Web, available at a glance, all in one place — spend less time surfing and logging in from site to site and more time enjoying your web, your way.”

As Doug at KM Space noted, this is about aggregating yourself (or your stuff) – and this type of thing can be used inside the enterprise. Ginger is yet another way to help you aggregate your stuff – to bring all of these streams into one place to access (and use) the various web applications via widgets.

The killer thing is that Ginger gives you a personal space and a public space – the public space is called your “universe” – and it’s there for all of your Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, Twitter followers (and anyone else you want) to see. There are also universes by companies and news providers, like Slate, USA Today, and others.

In addition to the private and public aspects of Ginger, you can see and “follow” friends’ activities.

I could go on and on, but your best bet: check it out here. Or see what Ars Technica had to say about it.

Here’s a link to the LawyerKM Netvibes Universe. It’s still in its infancy, but includes a feed of the LawyerKM blog, a KM blog search feed, the LawyerKM Twitter feed, and a wall on which you can write. I’m not crazy about the color, which I’ll likely change.

lkm uni

Please add LawyerKM as a friend. Use the Contacts tab at the top of the screen, search for “LawyerKM” and click the icon. On the following screen, click the “Add Friend” button.

lmk uni

Will I replace my iGoogle home page with Netvibes’ new Ginger? Not sure yet. But iGoogle, you’d better get in this game. You’ve been warned.

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