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

LinkedIn Adds News for Groups | Knowledge Management

Given the announcement of LinkedIn Applications this week, you may not have noticed the announcement last week about the addition of a news sharing feature that was added to LinkedIn Groups.  With this new feature, members of groups, like Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, for example, can share, discuss, and recommend news articles within groups.

Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals

Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals

To get to the news feature, simply select your group, and click on the News tab.  From there, you can see news submitted by group members, and you can submit an article yourself.

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

Enterprise 2.0 Jumpstart (Web 2.0 Expo) | Knowledge Management

Web 2.0 Expo Wrap-up Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thanks to Doug Cornelius at KM Space, I was able to attend the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC.  Instead of taking paper notes (speaking of paper-free, I wish I had one of these), I tapped them out on my laptop, and figured that I would share them with you.  They are rough (so please excuse any typos).

Today’s Workshop: Enterprise 2.0 Jumpstart

Speaker: Thomas Vander Wal of InfoCloud Solutions, Inc. ( the Web 2.0 Expo:

This workshop provides an overview of the Web 2.0 tools and the changes
these social tools and user focused ease of use tools play for enterprise
(organizations that are large to small with business, non-profit, or public
service focus). There have great changes made to tools and services provided
on the web in the last 5 years or so as the layers and use of the tools on
top of the web browser have changed for the better. This change has value to
the organizations using the web and not just the people using sites.

The workshop focuses on conceptual models to help people things about the
important components for success using the social web tools and services to
augment the organization’s reach and engage better with customers and

The workshops covers advantages, lessons learned, and current along with
potential gaps around deciding how to make first steps, how to select tools,
and how to increase the chances for success with the Web 2.0 tools for
Enterprise use.

My Notes:

History – how did we get to Enterprise 2.0?

  • Old office systems were clunky, required too much IT involvement, etc.
  • The consumer web started to change – offer improved direction and features: blogging, etc.
  • the volume of information changed: email, IM etc. have greatly increased to amount of data floating around the enterprise.
  • People started to realize that Individuals — regardless of rank — offer solutions.  So, there was a need to give them the tools – the ability to contribute.
One factor contributing to Enterprise 2.0 Adoption: is that new employees are expecting web 2.0 tools (they grew up on the web and don’t understand why they can’t do it at work).  They understand the ideas — and ability to connect — related to social networking.
There is a bit of deja vu going on with the concerns about E2.0: similar to the 1990s with email (and before that with the telephone) – companies have a false concern that E2.0 tools will lead to information leaks outside the company.  [I remember someone once saying that if the telephone were introduced today, most companies would reject it because it would be too risky – people might use it to improperly disclose information to people outside the company]
So, what’s this web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 stuff about?
  • people meeting and discussing: their wants, desires, needs, interests.
  • sharing.
  • but really: all about “me” – and those who I follow.  A very ego-centric world.  So, it’s social.
  • tools that help people advance as a society [whether that society is the world – on the web, or the enterprise]
When so many people have such far-reaching access, it can lead to a flood of information, many layers of
information, so we need tools to be able to get to the specific information that we need.
The digital nature of these w2.0 / E2.0 tools help ease the technology pain.  The ease of use of new tools increase the likelihood that people will use them to capture the information that is important to the company.

Information is great, but Actionable Information is more important.  It’s fine to capture all of this information, but you need to be able to do something with.

What does your organization know?  This is a key question in KM.  Most organizations don’t know everything they know.  A lot of information is trapped in people’s heads and it doesn’t do any good to the organization of those people leave.
Also important is what your company calls things.  If there are different terms, then it may be difficult to
communicate.  Knowing what your customers / clients call things is also important.

Vander Wal described his Four Rings of Social Enterprise:

  1. the tools: blogs, wikis, feeds, social bookmarking, voting, profiles, widgets, mashups, favoriting, comments.
  2. interface / ease of use: this is the platform, e.g., oracle, SharePoint [1&2 combine to make up the usability; eventually, the tools get out of the way, if the software is smart enough, it can take unstructured data and know what to do with it to make it actionable (e.g.,]
  3. Sociality: what are your relationships you have with others?  who do you want to share with?  everyone?  select people or groups?  [tools and sociality combine to make intelligence and business needs].  There are “spheres of sociality”  personal, selective, collective, the mob.
  4. Encouraging use: this is easy for younger employees.   [The combination of encouraging use and sociality leads to”social comfort”] – show success stories regularly; buiild and show use cases; manage the community – promote contributed content.  Show how good ideas in one part of the organization can be applied to another part of the organization.
The balance of all four rings: “social software perfection.”

Benefits and Cautions of Enterprise 2.0 (Inside, Outside and Through the Firewall)

Enterprise 2.0 – Inside the firewall

  • fills in gaps in communication
  • individual voices: more people can contribute their own perspectives (in a 1.0 environment, you might not even know that certain people have ideas about what the company is doing).  You never know who might be able to contribute valuable perspectives.
  • flexible structures:
  • tools are starting to get out of the way: again, ease of use…
  • ease of connecting:
  • tools embrace horizontal interaction: this is the idea of how ideas can be applied in various parts of the organization.
  • easy to iterate & create more efficient workflows: this helps the organization work much more quickly
  • low, if any, abuse of the tools: since the tools used the organizations LDAP/AD feeds to identify users, the users are reluctant to abuse the system – there is accountability (even the intelligence community uses wikis and blogs they’ve never had a case of abuse of the tools)
  • know offerings of tools (i.e. the tools mentioned in the first ring, above): what does each tool offer
  • adoption may be slow – you must work to improve engagement/use (incentives are often counter productive – it can lead to people putting junk into the system) – get people focused on the “me” aspect – figure out how the tools can be beneficial to them so that they will want to contribute
  • formal training is not needed: use overview sessions (in intelligence agencies, trainers go around and spend small amounts of time with users)
  • the web is different from in-house: e.g., there is no anonimity in-house
  • understand employee fears: and address them
Enterprise 2.0 – Outside the firewall

  • a more human approach: e.g., rather than press releases, blogs allow companies to interact with their customers and clients.
  • embrace conversations with customers: web 2.o allows you to connect with customers [cited book: Cluetrain Manifesto: marketing is a conversation – it’s happening whether the company is involved in it or not.]
  • supports interaction through ease of use
  • eases customer support: lets customers show their love and support: e.g., endorsing products and services in blog posts, twitter posts, etc.
  • allow direct connection to the customer: web 2.0 is yet another channel to connect with customers
  • let’s customers help innovate

  • listen first: listening to customer / client feedback
  • marketing will need to adapt: this is a new way of doing things.
  • moderate the comments and discussion (with a light hand) [but you don’t want to make the comments seem artificially positive – you may be criticized if you delete all negative, but relevant, comments]
  • avoid lock-in: allow people to get the information out of your site and on to other sites.
  • must be easy to join and engage: if it is too difficult to contribute, people won’t bother.
  • consider scaling & long-term use: make sure you can handle it if your company blog grows and generates more and more comments, etc.
Enterprise 2.0 – Through the firewall (communication from within the company to those outside the company)

  • authenticated interactions: know who is allowed to interact.
  • common space for franchisees
  • preferred customer usage (e.g. invitation only beta testing and previsews)
  • transparent communications
  • directly engaging with customers / clients

  • transparent communications: must be aware of legal ramifications, leaks, etc.
  • set nimble processes for setting official organization responses.
  • set firm policies for handling caustic situations
  • scaling: problems if your site or services are down
  • information reuse by customers
  • how to engage
Enterprise 2.0: Value of Multiple Perspectives

  • Personal
  • Collective: when aggregating information about “social objects,” you can follow the links to the various individuals and get multiple perspectives.
  • Collaborative – a group perspective around a “social object” (you may not be able to see the individual contributions (things are seen as a whole).
  • New User: this is someone who doesn’t know yet how to use the system.
  • Service Owner: this person is concerned about more technical and structural aspects of the E 2.0 systems.
  • External Developers: example is Twitter: most of the people who use Twitter use it via third-party interface [Ijust started using Twittelator on the iPhone]
Examples of Users (using or as an example):

  • Non-user (newbies)
  • Non-Contributing Collective User (this person simply consumes content )
  • Non-Contributing Selective User (maybe uses a selective view of a site)
  • Light Contributing User (this person might tag, favorite, or comment on content)
  • Heavy Contributing User (this person also adds new content)
The above was combined into a matrix of perception with depth of perception and faces of perception.
Elements of Social Software

  • Identity
  • Objects
  • Presence
  • Actions
  • Sharing

Once an OBJECT is shared, a person (through IDENTITY) builds RELATIONSHIPS, and then RELATIONSHIPS form CONVERSATIONS about OBJECTS, this turns into GROUPS that COLLABORATE.  Of course, there was a venn-type diagram to explain this.

Focus on the individual voice: Information, understanding, and knowledge in context from their perspective.

Case Studies:

1. Comcast Cares

Started on Twitter: one Comcast employee would look for people on twitter who would voice complaints, he would reach out to them.
  • now comcast searches blogs and other forums and reaches out to people there, as well.
  • it is a whole new way to connect with customers
  • now the team is 7 – 10 employees
  • have various searches and alerts to monitor the web and community forums for mentions of Comcast.
  • provides customer feedback and assistance
  • as of August ’08 – interacted with 11,500 Twitter users
2. Starbucks Ideastorm
  • built on system
  • a “My Starbucks” platform
  • open to all to make recommendations for new ideas for Starbucks
  • customers suggest ideas and other customers can vote
  • in one month there were over 600 comments and 53, 000 votes
  • gets customers involved and drives innovation
  • what about long-term engagement?
3. McDonalds Franchisee Community
  • built on Awareness hosted platform
  • About 2 -3 months to build & deploy
  • internal McDonalds corporate & franchisees
  • inside the firewall and through to trused external customers
  • news, blogs, community, profiles, & photos
  • focus on community neighborhoods, with 200 planned.
LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Social Networking for Lawyers: What Works? What Doesn't?

What good is social networking if you can’t use it to get a recommendation from your contacts?

A friend recently asked me for a recommendation for an immigration lawyer in New York City. Although I’m a lawyer, I don’t personally know any immigration lawyers; but I thought that some of my social network friends might be able to point me in the right direction.


My first thought was Twitter. About 125 people “follow” me (as LawyerKM) on Twitter [you can too!]. There are about 80 people who “follow” me on Twitter under my personal Twitter account [you can too! – email me at lawyerkm at for details]. There is some duplication among followers, so, there’s not really over 200 prospective followers. My tweet was: “need an immigration lawyer in New York City – please @lawyerkm … with recommendations.

Then I thought about Facebook. I’ve got 90 contacts on Facebook. I personally know many (but not all) of my Facebook contacts. As a little background, I started using Facebook as a strictly professional networking platform; my profile was “all business.” As I became more comfortable with it, I loosened up and started adding more non-work related information, and personal friends; not just KM stuff. (On a KM-related note, I also started a Facebook group called Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, which you may join.) I reached out to my Facebook contacts by way of a status update, which said “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation. Anyone?”

What I thought would happen and what really happened were two very different things. Both Twitter and Facebook are very popular these days, and everyone is talking about them. My Twitter contacts are very active, and many of them are lawyers or in the legal industry. My Facebook contacts are pretty active, as well, but Twitter seems to have Facebook beat on the activity scale (this is a purely subjective observation).

Based on my Twitter contact types (law-related), I expected to instantly get dozens of recommendations from my Twitter contacts. I didn’t expect much from Facebook, however, because my contacts there are more diverse.

Surprise! In reality, I received no Twitter responses and a relative flood (no fewer than five) of Facebook responses – some within minutes, others within a few hours. Even more surprising was the quality of the responses. They were from real-life contacts (i.e. people I know) who actually used the lawyers that they recommended.

I passed the referrals along and my friend was pleased.

So, why did I get such good results on Facebook and bad results on Twitter? This, of course, is speculation, but these factors may have something to do with it.

Twitter's posting interface

The platforms – Twitter vs. Facebook Twitter is simple, but not so feature-rich. It basically allows you to post short (140 characters) messages for the world (or your followers) to see. Direct messaging to other Twitter members is another option. You can include links to web pages, but that’s about it. Your posts (or tweets) are listed in reverse chronological order. Since Twitter can only display so many tweets, the messages of the people you follow will be displaced by newer messages. So, with the really high rate of tweets out there (at least among the Tweeters I follow), you’re bound to miss a lot of posts – unless you keep a consistent eye on your Twitter account (or if you have those tweets fed to you via RSS for later consumption in an RSS reader). If your followers haven’t checked their Twitter accounts recently, they probably will have missed your latest posts.

Facebook tab menu

Facebook is a much more complex platform. There is more to it. People can share a lot more information about themselves. Work, school, hometown, religious, political, photos, etc. And this is key: there are non-linear, non-chronological connections on Facebook. Click on your home page and see your “news feed” – i.e., information about your Facebook friends. Check out their status updates, and their photos, too. It sucks you in. You’ll find yourself clicking around to see what’s going on with your friends. What groups have they joined? [My favorite, other than my own, is the group “I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head,” which has close to one million members.] You can also send Twitter-like updates to your Facebook friends, too (that’s how I got the word out). Bottom line: there’s a lot more information about your friends and a lot more ways to get to it. The interactions on Facebook, I think, are more meaningful. That level of connectedness, which is lacking on Twitter, makes all the difference. It makes people want to interact.

What about LinkedIn?

Ironically, when I set out to find a lawyer recommendation, I didn’t even think of LinkedIn – the business networking website. It wasn’t until the next day that I thought of it. But then I thought: how would I even go about using LinkedIn to get a recommendation? I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching by keywords only to bring up second and third degree contacts, which require me to request introductions from my first degree contacts. Too much work. I finally decided to update my LinkedIn status with “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation…” The result: nothing. There just isn’t a good way (at least as far as I know) to reach all of your LinkedIn contacts like you can do on Facebook.

Your thoughts / experiences?

So, have you had similar experiences? Have you successfully used social networking sites to make business connections? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

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

Deliver Facebook for the Enterprise | Knowledge Management

I attended a webinar from NewsGator called Deliver ‘Facebook for the Enterprise’ with SharePoint

NewsGator, Deliver Facebook for the Enterprise | Knowledge Management

Here are my rough notes, so please forgive typos:

September 11, 2008


  • Deb Bannon Senior Product Manager at Microsoft
  • Laura Farrelly – Marketing at NewsGator

What is social computing (SC)?

  • examples – Facebook, LinkedIn, Wikipedia
  • a collaboration mechanism using the Internet

Many employees are demanding the same type of web functionality in their companies

Social Computing is in the “collaboration spectrum”

  • SC – really about the connection with people rather than about content.

Enterprise 2.0

  • the enterprise use of web 2.0 technologies
  • power is moving from institutions to communities
  • moving from a top down to a bottom up model

Business Drivers for SC:

  • drive collaboration & social interaction
  • capture and share tacit knowledge
  • discover content in new ways
  • capture “wisdom of the masses” via social feedback
  • build sense of connection to the company
  • easy search and find relevant subject matter and subject matter experts
  • encourages participation
  • increases efficiency, productivity and speed

Growth in the Market

  • expected to by over $5B in 2013

Employees want the technology, but IT departments want to make sure the platforms are secure, manageable, and compliant

SharePoint (SP) can be used to bring web 2.0 into the enterprise

  • includes blog and wikis
  • enterprise search
  • consistent user interface and one-stop place for all such collaboration tools
  • easy to customize
  • NewsGator can integrate with SP

NewsGator Demo

  • “Facebook for the enterprise” – short review of what Facebook looks like.
  • Facebook Groups reviewed also
  • There is a risk of using consumer-based social networking products in the enterprise (for obvious reasons)
  • NewsGator’s answer is a dedicated platform for the enterprise (NewsGator’s platform, of course)

Live NewsGator Demo (very much like Facebook):

  • based on fake pharmaceutical company
  • recent activities section
  • anytime a name is displayed, it is hypertexted to the the person’s profile
  • there is a social network graph (this is nice) the closer (physically) the contact, the stronger the connection (not sure how the relationships — or thier strength — are established) Update – Laura Farrelly has clarified this blow in the comments – Thanks Laura!
  • can add tags to communities
  • communities are auto populated with info from SP and news feeds, emails, etc.
  • discussion threads are accessible via email – so that people can contribute via email.
  • RSS feeds (which is NewsGator’s forte)

Example from Universal McCann, which is using SP with NewsGator

  • global media communications agency
  • BTW – Universal McCann’s website is pretty slick (although maybe too slick – it’s a bit hard to navigate)
  • built communities based on area of interest rather than geographic location or projects
  • they use the platform also to connect with their customers
  • Universal McCann has a white paper on their site called The Social Butterfly Effect
  • Link to Universal McCann video case study.

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

LinkedIn Groups to add Discussion Forums | Knowledge Management

I am excited that this Friday, LinkedIn will be adding discussion forums and related features to LinkedIn Groups.  Here is an extract from the email announcement I received: 

This Friday [8/29/08], we will be adding several much-requested features to your group:

  • Discussion forums: Simple discussion spaces for you and your members.
  • Enhanced roster: Searchable list of group members.
  • Digest emails: Daily or weekly digests of new discussion topics which your members may choose to receive. (We will be turning digests on for all current group members soon, and prompting them to set to their own preference.)
  • Group home page: A private space for your members on LinkedIn.

We’re confident that these new features will spur communication, promote collaboration, and make your group more valuable to you and your members.

Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals (KMLP) is a LinkedIn group of over 600 members.  I had been looking for relatively easy ways to foster collaboration among members of this group for quite some time.  The Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals Netvibes page is a good place to see some good legal KM blogs and, but the collaboration there has been sparse.   The Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals Facebook Group has had more success in getting discussions going.   I am hopeful that these new LinkedIn features will be a step in the right direction.  

On a related note, I encourage everyone to check out a new social news network site that, I think, shows some promise.  It is called Social Median.  I set up a network there called (you guessed it) Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals.   I like it because it aggregates relevant news and information and offers RSS delivery of the content. 

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

Web 2.0 Law Firm Adoption (from ILTA) | Knowledge Management

ILTA – August 27, 2008 1:00 pm

These are my notes from the program.  [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog.  Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]

From ILTASee the description and download the slides here

Title: Web 2.0 – Law Firm Adoption
Description: As Web2.0 tools mature, there is an increased number of adoptions by Fortune 500 companies.  We explore and learn if Web 2.0 solutions already being adapted by Fortune 500 companies would be accepted by the lawyers in your firm.
Speaker(s): Bruce MacEwen – Adam Smith, Esq.

Learning Objectives: Learn how the new Web 2.0 tools are being utilized by Fortune 500 companies and its potential impact for law firms.
Analyze adoption rates amongst law firms.

LawyerKM’s notes:

These notes are highlights, you can see the slides on the ILTA site.
Bruce has many good diagrams in his presentation – check it out.

Web 2.0 Agenda:

  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Mashups
  • Social Networking
  • Implications for law firms

The nature of the web and how it has changed:

Web 1.0 > Web 1.5 > Web 2.0
key difference is 1.0=surf, 1.5=search,  2.0=share

Blogs 101
23 blogs known in 1999
125 million blogs in 2008

Blogs as a management tool: a place in professional services firms because there are so many advantages over email.

Blog Basics:
important to have firm-wide blogging policies
you’re personally responsibe
respect and keep secretsinclude positive and negative comments (for credibility); some firms use blogs just for a replacement of client alerts, etc. and disallow comments (whether your firm does this depends on the culture)
be nice

Be Aware:
there is significant time committment to blogging.
your firm may require legal approval

Do’s & Don’ts:
there were a number of these, see the slides link above.
Highlights: don’t get defensive; develop a tone of voice – there is a brand aspect to your blog, a brand is a promise to your readers.

Why blog?
Internally – facilitates collaboration
Externally- demonstrates expertise

Web 2.0 [and Enterprised 2.0] –  At the heart of the knowledge management function; also at the heart of the project management function.

What lawyers do (cases, deals, etc.) are projects.  The intrinsic characteristics of blogs lend themselves to project manaement – the most recent thing is on top.

The way a firm is organized is usually different that the way people interact (see Bruce’s diagram)

like a blog with multiple authors (e.g. wikipedia)
“it will never work in theory, but it works in practice”
the concerns that people will vandalize wiki pages is unfounded (if it happens, the good people will fix it and the vandals will be exposed)
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein reported 75% drop in email on projects after implementing wikis.
There is very little instruction required.

There is not much downside to trying out wikis and blogs becuase they are generally inexpensive and they are generally accepted because they mirror the way people work.

Definition: basically mixing two or more databases together (e.g. craigslist rentals with google maps or chicago crime with google maps)
Hypo – key clients mashup with a map of an area – could have real value to a firm.
Hypo – “caller ID on steroids” when a client calls, identifies the person as a client, it pulls up all types of firm info and a news feed related to the client.  [this is a great idea – other than this I haven’t heard too many good ideas for mashups in organizations].  this is real “just in time” information that can be very useful for lawyers – getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

This stuff is not “high tech” it is “appropriate tech”

Social Networks
MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Legal OnRamp (specifically for lawyers).

Bruce is disturbed by the number of members and the presence detection features of Legal OnRamp.   [to me this is of minor concern – better platforms, like Facebook allow better control over privacy and presence detection].

Success Stories:
there are some anecdotes, but most are struggling for a balance

McKinsey study: companys are shifting from experimental to broad adoption.  But, 21% were satisfied and 22 were not satified.
Specific internal uses: KM is 83%
External uses: improving client services is 73%

Leadership buy-in, promotion, and endorsement are keys to the success of social networking.  [in my view, this certainly is the key.  you may get some adoption, without it, but it will never be widely adotped and considered a success without it.]

Main take-away: power of the tools is to strengthen relationships that already exist.  It requires business and IT / KM to really collaborate.  It is the IT / KM job to identify new tools, such as social networking, and for senior management to push it forward.

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

Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, etc.) (from ILTA)

ILTA – August 27, 2008 9:00 am

These are my notes from the program. [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog. Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]

From ILTA:

Title: Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, MashUps, IM, Text Messages, Social Networks and More)
Description: Collaboration technologies help promote information sharing, efficiency, cost reduction and can provide competitive advantages. How does the legal environment deal with the information overload and the security of confidential information escaping the realm of the organization? What aspects of legal information need to be considered to help determine how collaboration tools should be utilized in the legal world (and when they should not)? What policies must be in place to protect the shared information?

Speaker(s): Tom Mighell – Cowles & Thompson, P.C.
Dennis Kennedy – MasterCard Worldwide

LawyerKM’s notes:

  • See my notes from yesterday’s presentation
  • Collaboration is no longer an option.
  • Web tools are moving beyond email.
  • News and communication:
    Blogs –
    IM –
    Twitter –
  • Working together:
    Documents – drafts & revisions: the old way was redlining.
    Conferencing – scheduling is a major difficulty and very time consuming.
    Wikis –
  • Web 2.0
    1.0 – focus was getting all the info online – no interaction
    2.0 – making the info available to people in more interesting, interactive ways (e.g. Google Maps, Mashups); moving to user-generated content (e.g., wikis and blogs); software as a service (SAAS); cloud computing.
    e.g., Yelp, Delicious, social networking tools, Facebook and LinkedIn are the main players.
    Martindale-Hubbell is testing their own social network (should be coming out in the next couple of months.
    Mashups – SharePoint can be used to mashup information
    Google Sites – allows you to make a mini portal platform on the web
  • The benefits of collaboration:
    1. taking an active role
    2. enhancing the workflow
    3. getting better results
  • Potential Problems of collaboration:
    1. Loss of control – lawyers are tought that they should control the draft and the drafting proscess. Collaborative drafting (like with Google Docs) can take away this feeling of control, blog comments and wikis also may contribute to the feeling of loss of control. Internal vs. external storage (many lawyers are not comfortable with their data on external servers) there is also the issue of down time of third-party systems.
    2. Security – because you are going outside the firewall, there is a concern. You are potentialll opening up multiple points of compromise.
    3. Ethics – need to be a lawyer’s ethical responsibilities. There have not been many ethics decisions about technology. None were cited about collaboration. Is encryption mandatory? Metadata – one state has found that lawyers should have knowledge that metadata exists in their documents.
  • The Balance between riks and benefits:
    1. Cultural – what is the tolerance for risk at your firm? Balanced scorecard, risk-reward framework.
    2. Costs – many of these tools are free – so lawyers might be inclined to try it out. But, some of those tools may be risky. Hidden costs – free tools have implimentation issues [and what about ads in Gmail].
    3. Portfolio approach – is an economic portfolio approach right (i.e., having a diversified portfolio)? Check out some of the collaboration tools.
  • Defining and Implementing Appropriate Policies:
    1. channel appropriate behaviors – lawyers are good at finding work-arounds when they can’t get what they need.
    2. keeping control – policies, procedures, processes – need some sort of formality to it. Very few people in the audience have any sort of policies or procedures that cover collaboration tools.
    3. security and ethical concers – #1 is confidentiality; different levels of access, authority are key to this.
  • Looking into the Future
    1. recent devlopments – since the cost of travel is high, there is/will be an increase in online collaboration.
    2. trends – web2.0 is becoming more common and people are willing to explore
    3. predicions – clients will drive this (if they want it, lawyers will provide it) video will be bigger in the future
  • Conclusions:
    1. keep current – read blogs [like LawyerKM!]
    2. action steps – find your firms policies; look at the tools that you use; think about the issues that arise with the tools that you use.

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

Social Networking in Law Firms (at ILTA) | Knowledge Management

ILTA – August 26, 2008 1:30 pm

There are so many great presentations at ILTA.  And sometimes two that you’d like to attend are happening at the same time.  That’s the case here.  I’d love to have seen this presentation, but needed to attend a different one. 

I hope that Doug Cornelius at KM Space or David Hobbie at Caselines (or someone else – maybe noted on Twitter) will cover it.   

From ILTA:

Title: Social Networking – Marketing Boon, Malpractice Nightmare or Simple Boondoggle
Description: The recruiting manager has created a firm FaceBook site.  The marketing director is encouraging all the lawyers to join LinkedIn.  The firm’s general counsel is freaking out over the possible ethic violations and malpractice possibilities.  The older lawyers simply aren’t sure what to do.  The younger lawyers are wondering what all the hoopla is about.  We explore social and business networking, the potential problems and rewards and what you can do about it.
Speaker(s): Jeffrey Brandt – Crowell & Moring LLP
Learning Objectives: Explore social networking and analyze the driving force behind it. 
Learn the differences between social and business networking.

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

Social Networking for Law Students | Knowledge Management

There’s been a lot in the blogosphere about social networks exclusively for various professionals (see e.g., LawLink and Legal OnRamp for lawyers and Sermo for doctors). You can read more about them in my blog post Social Networking is Dead.

Now, from the “get’em hooked early” department comes a social network for law students called CasemakerX.

Here’s the press release about this first of it’s kind social networking site:

Lawriter, LLC a subsidiary of Collexis Holdings Inc. (OTCBB: CLXS) announced today the development of the first professional social network exclusively for law students. The site was showcased in Beta format at the American Association of Law Librarians Conference in Portland in July. A full launch is expected in early fall 2008 to coincide with the incoming class of new law students. Along with the social networking site, CasemakerX will provide free access to the Casemaker Suite of Applications for the U.S. law student community.

“CasemakerX is an exciting new legal information product that law students and faculty will find useful,” said Duncan Alford, associate dean and director of the law library at the University Of South Carolina School Of Law. “The social networking portion of CasemakerX is reminiscent of LinkedIn, but with the electronic content of primary federal and state law. The upcoming introduction of legal thesaurus searching will make the searching capabilities even more sophisticated and the success of the Collexis search engine and fingerprinting technology in medical research shows exciting promise for legal research.”

CasemakerX is a free service for law students supported by the Casemaker Bar Consortium and its 475,000 attorney members across the U.S. Law students, faculty and law librarians can sign up for the site and register from accredited Law Schools. Once a profile is created, users are networked by areas like corresponding law school, fields of interest, graduation year, etc. Users can also enjoy a host of social networking components including capabilities like blogging, instant messaging, photo sharing, job postings, video streaming via YouTube™, and iPhone plug-ins. Lawriter’s Casemaker suite of legal discovery products is available on the site and includes a library of over 12 Million documents in federal and state case law. The site also includes the recently released Casemaker Medical application, with full text search of over 15 Million biomedical abstracts.

“We are pleased to host this community for the next generation of attorneys,” said Steve Newsom general manager for Lawriter. “Our mission is to help law students succeed – connecting with their peers, their teachers, and the external attorney community to advance their education and career goals.”

Sounds interesting. And I like the idea that this is not just another Facebook-type site that is used primarily for having fun (although, Facebook is a great platform to make business connections, too). If this becomes popular, I think that it will add to the expectations of young lawyers – who will expect “Web 2.0” tools at work. For more on that, see Attorney 2.0 – Generation Y in Your Law Firm.

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