Little Knowledge Management is the Next Big Thing

tagBack in September of 2008 I mentioned this idea of “little KM” in a post called “Micro-blogging in your law firm?.” There, I wrote: little KM is about “how” and big KM is about “what.”  Little KM helps people find the big KM.

The Small Stuff. By little KM, I mean meta data; but not the hierarchical, taxonomic stuff of older KM approaches.  It’s not about asking your lawyers to profile, or select prescribed meta data, for their documents when saving them in a document management system.  Rather, little KM is about on-the-fly, user-generated tagging, commenting, and rating.  Little KM is also about self interest; and that’s important.

Little KM is not substantive.  It points or directs people to the substantive stuff (the big KM).  For example, if a lawyer tags a document with “best practice” or “model” it will probably indicate to others that someone thinks highly of that document.  The same is true if a rating system (e.g., five stars, or “thumbs up”) is employed.  Comments can also be helpful to note attributes of a document that are not immediately evident from the contents.  For example, a lawyer may comment that a particular transactional document is favorable to a buyer, rather than a seller.  That can help someone more quickly decide which among several documents to review when working on a new matter.

Self Interest. Altruism may be alive and well, but for the most part, we do things to help ourselves, personally.  The good thing is that with little KM, the side effect is that it also helps others.  When someone tags, comments on, or rates a piece of content (presumably to help themselves find, or make sense of, it later) others get the benefit of that person’s efforts.  This is not to say, of course, that such selfless activities shouldn’t be encouraged.  But, unless people see the personal value of using little KM, it won’t become all that it could.

Low Impact. For little KM to be helpful and effective, it must be easy to use and part of one’s workflow.  If a lawyer must open a new application to tag or rate a document in a work product retrieval system, then it will seldom happen.  Think of the online social bookmarking site Delicious.  It allows you to bookmark websites and tag them with keywords.

delicious-toolbar

The most effective way to use Delicious is not to add URLs on the Delicious website, but rather to use a web browser toolbar button (see above) that allows you to tag your current website.  Here is a Common Craft video that shows how to use Delicious.

In the same way, little KM features inside your firm need to be easy to use.  If they’re not, they will surely fail.

Is your firm using little KM?  Do you have systems that allow lawyers to tag, comment, and rate the big KM?

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

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).

ginger

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

Knowledge Management for Law Firms :: In case you missed it… Feb 17-23, 2008

Here are some of my favorite legal knowledge management & technology blog posts and other items from the week of February 17 – 23, 2008:

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

More Social Bookmarking for the Enterprise | Knowledge Management

Connectbeam apparently is not the only player in the enterprise social bookmarking game.  An eweek article by Dave Greenfield called Crowd Control: Social Bookmarking Apps Provide a New Knowledge Management Platform describes some of the others:  BEA AquaLogic Pathways, Cogenz, and IBM Lotus Connections

Next Time: Social Search. 

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management for Lawyers and Law Firms.

Social Bookmarking for the Law Firm | Knowledge Management

In “Can you Digg It?…” We asked (but nobody answered) whether social bookmarking is right for law firms. We also wondered whether it was worth the investment. Well, the good people over at

Connectbeam Logo Connectbeam are of the opinion that it is. They even went so far as to create an enterprise social bookmarking and tagging system that does the trick.

As they state in their nice online screencast demo, “time to action is fundamental.” The whole idea behind enterprise social bookmarking is to get to information quickly so people can act and get their jobs done.

Connectbeam creates an environment where members of a company can “tag” content (like websites). Those content items can also be grouped into topics.

Users can also search for keyword and get a list of all of the content items that are tagged to the keyword. In addition, the same search lists related tags (i.e. other tags that users have used for content related to the keyword) and related users (i.e. users who also have tagged content related to the keyword). This has an expertise location function. Clicking on a related user shows their bio, contact information, displays their “tag cloud” (i.e. the terms that they have used to tag other items), and the topics that they have chosen to share within the company. Tags in the tag cloud are of various font sizes. A larger font indicates that more items are tagged with that term. Tag cuds are used in many public social bookmarking applications, like Delicious and photo sharing sites, like Flickr

Users can create private topics, group topics, and company topics. So, a key member of the firm’s antitrust practice group might locate and tag a website that provides good antitrust resources. She can save it as group topic. Others can search for it, or simply see what things she has tagged.

We still wonder if lawyers will take the time to tag stuff.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management for Lawyers and Law Firms
Digg!

Social Bookmarking in Plain English (video) | Knowledge Management

Common Craft has published a new video called Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Like the other videos (Social Networking in Plain English, Wikis in Plain English, and RSS in Plain English), this is a great, simple introduction to what can be a complicated thing. 

If you want to know more about social bookmarking and tagging and how it is used in conjunction with social networking, please see our previous post, Can You Digg It.  You’ll also learn how lawyers and law firms might use social bookmarking in their workflows. 

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management for Lawyers and Law Firms