In light of last week's announcement of changes at Blogger, I've decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I'm going to be converting this blog over to Wordpress. Of course, with over 8 years of customizations to the site, it's not going to be a simple process to convert everything, so just be aware that it's going to be going on if/when you see some things looking wonky around here. In fact, the site will probably disappear for a few hours sometime later this week, as I move it to a different server in preparation for the Wordpress install.
Of course, since I have to be in court tomorrow, nothing starts until I'm comfortable with the knowledge that I won't be spending any of my evenings and weekends working, at least long enough to see this transition through. Given the industry I work in, you'll forgive me if plans change and I have to put this off a little bit.
Last week, I was fully prepared to be working long hours for the entire month of February, and things changed suddenly. It's the nature of the business really. You never know when, or if, a case that you're preparing to go to trial, will settle. It often ends up with us doing a whole lot of prep work, only to find that it never gets used, but you still have to do all the work the same way for every case, because some of them don't settle and you have to be ready to go in court!
Anyway, consider yourselves warned, and hang on. It's going to be a bumpy ride for a bit, but I think we'll all be better off in the end for it!
Google's Blogger platform rolled out another new feature this week, one that many users of Blogger have been waiting for, and once again, one I can't use.
See, ever since Blogger rolled out "new" templates a few years ago, the ones that support widgets, and began building all sorts of cool widgets for their users to use on their blogs, they have pretty much only worked on adding new features to those templates.
The problem is, if you, like me, use Blogger to publish to your own site through FTP, and not to Blogspot, you can't use the new templates, and thus, all of the new features of Blogger, are not available to you. The Blogger team over at Google seems to be blissfully unaware that, long long ago, many folks actually used Blogger, and continue to use Blogger, so that they could publish static HTML blog pages to their own sites, at their own URL, with their own hosting, without the Ad bar being added to their templates.
As I think about it, the last time Blogger added a feature that we could, you know, use, was categories, or maybe comments? (Upon further review, scheduled posts were available regardless of where you are publishing within the last year) Any way, it's been awhile. Almost all of the innovation at Blogger now seems to be around widgets, and other tools for use with Blogspot hosted accounts. Those of us who don't have those, get nothing. I can't help but wonder if the fact that Blogspot hosted accounts have ads on them is the reason?
It's almost enough to make me switch this blog to Wordpress too, except I don't have nearly the time to move 8+ years of stuff to a new platform!
Update: Seems I posted this a bit prematurely, as Rob Fahrni has pointed out that Blogger is actually going to eliminate support for using FTP to publish to your own site. So, it appears I'm going to be spending my time moving this to Wordpress or using some sort of Google hosting/redirect, which doesn't really interest me at all.
I was able to spend my lunch hour yesterday taking in this webinar by Kevin O'Keefe, and I have to say, it was pretty good. I thought Kevin did a good job tying social networking and blogging with traditional business networking, and also giving folks who are looking for ways to get their firms and attorney's interested in blogging some good ideas to mull over.
The big takeaway, for me, was that blogging for the firm is similar to blogging here, but also not. Here, I really am just trying to share information, and learn from other folks who either leave comments here or have their own blogs and continue the conversations there. I have developed lots of relationships with people in a variety of areas, most of whom are not potential clients of my firm, but who do have a lot to offer me in terms of ideas and tips. When I talk to an attorney about blogging, for them, it really is more strategic than that. The number of page views don't mean anything if the people reading aren't potential clients that you are connecting with, and no matter how great the content may be, it isn't going to foster those relationships that bring in business if it's not the information these folks want to know. You have to know who you want to reach, and what they want to read, in order for the blog to be useful to them.
Anyway, that was my quick highlight, you can check out the recording and grab the slides for yourself, Kevin has the links, if you're interested.
Not to mention the other site I run, for child abuse survivors, and all of the many ways you can interact with that content as well!
So there you go, no matter what services you use or where you like to hang out on the net, there should be a choice for you to keep up with things being posted by me. I thank you for the interest in what I'm doing and talking about, and look forward to connecting with all of you, wherever it may be!
Here's to a getting your 2010 networking goals off to a good start!
I have been messing around with some things on my other blogs tonight, and it occurs to me that the current email subscription to this blog, is sort of a pain for me. (Not that anyone really noticed when I quit sending it out, it was never a very popular way to follow the site.)
On the other hand, I realize that Feedburner has an email subscription service that wouldn't actually require me to do much more than turn it on, so in the interest of making the blog available in any way you could want it, now you can subscribe by email to get all the blog posts on the same day they are posted.
Later this afternoon I'm going to be doing a presentation/demonstration of Social Networking Tools for a firm committee. I'm using this post to demonstrate how you can write in one place, and then use the power of RSS feeds and the tech/social media tools that exist to have that post appear in many different places.
So, if all goes well, by the time I show this to the committee, this should have already posted to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a handful of other places, all without me having to engage with any of those sites, and those of you who follow me or are connected to me will have had the opportunity to see it, read it, and maybe even respond to me, without ever having come to my blog to do so.
That's how you leverage technology to improve your social networking contacts when you're crunched for time!
I finally got a chance this week to look at the new Twitter Lists feature, and I must say, now that I've seen it in use, I get it a little better than I first did. When I first heard about it, I honestly thought, "Yeah so what, I already have groups in Tweetdeck, I don't care about lists."
Now that I've seen exactly how it's implemented though, I come away with a couple of new thoughts. First, I see now that what you're building when you build lists isn't necessarily just a group of Twitter users, it's an actual timeline that others can "follow". So, for instance, instead of looking at a group of users that someone else put together and finding new people I might want to follow, I can take the lazy way out and just follow the timeline. Then, when I want to check in on that topic, I just click over and see what that group of folks is talking about. Probably the best example I can give for this is on my sports twitter account, where I was added to a list of NY Islander fans. That would be an awesome timeline to pay attention to while the Islanders are playing, wouldn't it? Again, there may be some folks in there I want to follow myself, but since I don't have time right now to spend going through it, this makes things way easier on me!
It's also a easy way for someone new to Twitter to find traction. Now, instead of trying to help them find good people to follow, and helping them figure out how to interact with them, I can point them to a list, let them look at that timeline and get a feel for what they can do with this tool in that way. It gives them a head start compared to the days of signing up and then wondering "now what?"
The second thought I had was that this really increases the visibility of things I tweet, including blog posts, in a way that may be harder to measure. I have over 800 followers on my main twitter account who may see anything I tweet, but now I'm also on a handful of lists, which have followers of their own, where things I tweet will show up. So, suddenly, there's another chance that something I say on Twitter will be seen by others outside of my existing circle of contacts.
On the downside, building a list when you have a significant number of friends can be a bit time consuming, as you have to go through the list and add them one by one. An importer from Tweetdeck groups to Twitter lists would be an awesome tool, if anyone is paying attention and has the skills to build that. :)
All in all, it's an interesting little feature that I'm looking forward to playing with, and more importantly, seeing how others use in their own social networking workflow.
Interestingly, while I heard back from folks on Twitter about the post, on Facebook and even in person, there aren't any comments on the post itself. That tells me two things.
One, I can't control where the conversation about things I post here is actually going to take place. Thanks to the proliferation of social networks and the ease with with people can share links and other content with each other, anyone could be talking about something I wrote, and I may or may not ever find it!
Secondly, it proves that I was right in taking my RSS feed and shipping it out to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and wherever else. It makes no sense any more to limit the blog posts to what appears on the website. It works better to pass it around to all the places someone might want to read it as opposed to making them come here to see it.
The stats of the site are really kind of proving that out. The site hits have dropped off a bit over the last year or two, the RSS subscriber numbers have stayed pretty steady, but I've got people following the posts on Twitter and Facebook who never used to follow it at all. That's where the audience is growing, not in subscribers or page views. (Though page views do go up quite a bit temporarily when something I post is discussed on Twitter the way that was last week.) What does that mean? I'm not sure. It gets tougher to measure just how much of an audience I'm reaching, and it requires me to pay attention to many areas to see what posts are resonating and which aren't. I can't just rely on page views or comments.
It's a whole new world, takes a bit more work to see what kinds of feedback I'm getting and where it is. As a blogger, you need to be involved in some social networks, getting your content out to those networks, and seeing what folks are saying about it there too.
Why 54 percent of companies should stop blocking social media
I've made many of these same points myself, and made passionate arguments against blocking access to social media sites in the office, but I think this may be the most clear and concise list of reasons that I've ever seen.
As they say, go read the whole thing. I couldn't possibly pick out any one passage that would do it justice, but I will say that there is one passage that does merit some further thoughts. That is for a later post.
Tom Koulopoulus was the Monday morning keynote at ILTA09, and his message was one of innovation, and value. My quick take away was that for law firms, and for those of us who are looking to make some changes in that environment, the only way to do it is to prove the value. With the economy the way it is, everything has become about value. You maybe lost your job if you didn't bring enough value to the firm, or at least you certainly feel a whole lot safer if you have areas where you can easily identify the value you bring. Any money spent on training, or technology improvements have to show value, or be threatened by tighter budgets, and surely any adoption of new Web 2.0 technologies have to bring their own value to the table.
Unfortunately, most of us who work in an area as risk-adverse as law firms are trained to think first of the risks, and defend the risks when trying to introduce change. Perhaps we'd be better off focusing on the value added through the use of social networking, for example, and once we've proven that through our own examples of using these tools. After all, how much easier is it to defend against the risk when we're all already on the same page in terms of whether there's enough value to use the tools at our disposal?
Think of it in terms of email, surely we are all familiar with the risks that were associated with everyone in the firm having email. Eventually, though, the value proved to be so overwhelming that we accepted the risks and figured out how to deal with them. Social Networking and other Web 2.0 technologies haven't quite reached that point, but I believe they will. There's simply too much value in connecting to peers and sharing knowledge with as many people as possible, no matter the medium. We just need to share the value we've found with those who haven't.
I noticed that the latest version of the Firefox Delicious add-in allows you to not only tag and save a page, but also to send to contacts, or to Twitter.
That's in line with something I've been tossing around in my head of late, finding an easy way to share some of the links I'm posting to Delicious, and subsequently to this blog's RSS feed in a daily summary, to Twitter. I don't anticipate sending every bookmark to Twitter, but I will be experimenting with it. If you follow me there, let me know what you think, and if it's too much!
I have to say, there's a lot to like about this Computerworld article, Schmoozing 101: Tips for shy techies, but I really enjoyed the fact that one of the tips was to use social networking tools. I've been saying this for a long time now, as an introvert who is unlikely and just plain uncomfortable trying to track someone down on the phone or start up conversations with people I don't know at all, social networking helps bridge a lot of those gaps when it comes to networking. For example, I'm going to the ILTA09 conference, and this will be my first year there. I'll go knowing a couple of folks from my firm, and a handful of folks from the local Columbus ILTA chapter. I'll also go knowing that there's another bunch of folks I interact with on Twitter or Facebook on a regular basis too. That means I'm not going to try and talk to people I don't know, I'm going to meetup with folks I already know quite a bit about. That makes conversation so much easier!
So, the next time you're going to a networking event, start writing about your plans on Twitter or your blog, and see if you can't connect with folks ahead of time. That should make it easier on everyone once you get there!
When I saw that Twitter had released a Twitter 101 for Business today, I had to look at it, even as I dreaded what I might see. Lately, in the local Columbus Twitterverse, some companies are getting big kudos for running those "follow us and retweet this message to win" contests, and marketing folks are all abuzz with how "connected" the company is because they are giving away things to their customers.
Now, I don't have to tell you how much those things make me want to vomit. I've done that before. Though the latest buzz does make me question whether some of these self-proclaimed marketing/PR/social media gurus really care about how the company appears to people, or want to encourage them to continue to give them free stuff for talking about them even if it's not effective.
But I digress. Much to my delight, in looking over Twitter's own recommendations for how businesses could use the service to connect with their customers, there is nary a mention of using "retweet to win" contests. Maybe Twitter's founders get that there are some of us who really hate that? Here's hoping.
One of the points I was trying to make in my series about knowledge workers was about the way the world has changed, that it's no longer a world where you put in your 40 hours at work, and then you go home, and never the two shall meet. Today, I see that Shel Holtz described it by talking about his daughter better than I did!
In fact, Rachel is baffled by my obsession with emerging technologies. But if I told her she had to go on vacation without her phone, she’d look at me like I had just landed here from somewhere in the Adromeda system. For Rachel, it’s not a question of whether she’s plugged into a machine 24/7. It’s a question of being in or out of touch with her network of friends and colleagues. In her paradigm, 24/7 connectivity is just the way things are. And the connectivity is with people, not with platforms, algorithms or systems configurations.
Work connections are just part of the mix. Work and social contacts get mooshed together. Sprint and Palm recognized this phenomenon and incorporated it into the design of the Palm Pre. When I got my Pre, I identified my various email accounts and calendars, and the Pre aggregates them into a single view. Is it work or personal? Color codes differentiate it, but all activities are combined into a single calendar and emails into a single email stream. The Pre recognizes the shift from a clear boundary between work and life into a world where it’s all the same.
It also serves as an interesting look at how the tools don't really matter beyond a certain point, another favorite subject of mine, especially when it comes to social networking. It matters very little if you prefer Facebook to Twitter, of Friendfeed, what matters is how you're connecting with other people. It's what you use the tools for that matters, not which tool you choose!
That brings me to another discussion I had on Twitter just yesterday, with @cherylharrison and @jimbrochowski. Cheryl was complaining that every social media presentation includes the same statements about Twitter or "fill in the blank" tool, that get tweeted as if they are brand new and revolutionary ideas, when really, we sort of get "Twitter as tool", what can we do with it? My response, and perhaps the most (only?) brilliant thing I've ever said on Twitter was that to many people Twitter=Networking, because they don't get networking in the first place.
It's a bit like the underpants gnomes in South Park. Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn are the new "big" idea tools. If I am on them, I can connect with lots of people, and then ??????, which leads to more business or professional opportunities! Yay Twitter!
If you don't figure out what ?????? is for you, I'm afraid you're going to be sorely disappointed in what being on social networking sites does for you.
So what is your idea of ?????? I'd love to hear it!
Fourth Rule of Knowledge Workers - Blocking is Somewhat Pointless
It's been a little while since I wrote anything in this series, Part 3 was way back on June 21st, which just goes to show how time can really get away fro you! So, here's the next topic for discussion, why blocking social networking sites may just be pointless.
First, let's examine the reasons, as I see them, that many management and IT types give for blocking.
1. It's not productive, it leads to people wasting time instead of working. 2. It's dangerous, employees might leak confidential information or just say something that makes us look bad. 3. We're worried about virus and malware exploits coming from social networks, or bandwidth being unavailable for other uses.
Of these, I can see maybe half a real reason to not allow social networking sites, but even that reason is somewhat disingenuous in many cases. Let's take them one at a time.
1. People have been wasting time long before the internet, in more ways than I could possible recite in a blog post. Some people waste just a few minutes at work each day, but always manage to get their work done as needed, and some don't. If you really think the people who work for you who are not getting their work done suddenly will because they can't use Twitter, you are obviously too naive to work in management. Go do something else. Besides, as I like to say, if you have employees not doing their job, why on earth are you talking to the IT Department about that instead of HR? You have a personnel issue, not a technical one.
2. Yup, they might do something or say something they shouldn't online, just like they might do the same thing every time they pick up a phone, send an email, chat at lunch in a crowded restaurant, talk about work to friends at the ball game, etc. You have policies covering confidential information and employee conduct, those still apply in the online world, it's not any different. Instead of blocking, just remind them of existing policy, and that they apply on Facebook too.
Also, if you're blocking because you don't want employees sharing confidential information, what do you do when they go home? They're probably already using social networks, and probably have 1, 2, maybe 15 profiles, all done on their own time with their own internet access, and you have to go home to see what they might be saying. That makes no sense.
Besides, if you're going with reasons 1 and/or 2 as to why you block social networking sites, any employee with an iPhone or any other sort of mobile phone with internet access gets around you in a heartbeat. So much for being protected from the evils of social networks!
Finally, number 3. I do actually see some rational thought going on here. Social networks do come with certain types of malware dangers, mostly due to their social nature. It's maybe a bit easier to trust a link from a Facebook friend, for example, and the malware guys seem to be catching on to that. At the same time, though, you have very similar dangers in email, and in many, many other websites. For example, I once witnessed a nice little piece of drive-by malware trying to load on my machine from a banner ad on a Major League Baseball site. Not a site that many people bother blocking, but also not really one that was related to my work. So, while you might eliminate a risk or two by blocking social networks, it won't make you safe by any means. You'd be far, far better off investing your resources in solutions that will help eliminate all risks of malware coming in to the PC, and being passed on to the network, regardless of source. There's always a new source, eventually you end up blocking everything. :)
Also, a note about bandwidth, also something I think there is some reason to be concerned about. Again, blocking social networking might free up some minor bandwidth, but singling out social networks as a source of bandwidth "waste" might also be a bit off base. We've already talked about the fact that there are many professional and career benefits in connecting with people in your industry, online or off. So, if you are blocking it for fear of bandwidth shortages, you'd better make sure social networking is less valuable than every other thing you allow to use bandwidth. That goes double for all you bosses that like to stream some music while you work.
To me you really have two choices. You can block all this social networking junk, and just hope that all of your employees who are using it anyway don't do anything stupid. That's a tad ostrich-like for me, personally. Or, you can engage in social networking right alongside your employees, encouraging them to connect with professional and educational resources, reminding them that the online world is just an extension of the world in which we all live and work, and therefore the same rules apply, and showing them that not only are you the boss, but you're also a real live human being with a real family, hobbies, and maybe even a sense of humor.
Of course, that might come as quite the shock to many of them, so do be careful!
Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend some time with a small group of folks from my office explaining and demonstrating social networking tools. As part of the demonstration, I went live to my Twitter and Facebook profiles, which was actually a little nerve-wracking. I follow a lot of people on Twitter, some of whom don't always come across as very professional in their interactions. :)
As it turns out though, there wasn't much that the folks I follow were saying that was worth worrying about, but it was interesting when I had the screen up and the following conversation took place:
Coworker: "You know that person?" Me: "I know him online, don't think we've ever met, but we travel in some of the same Columbus area tech circles" Coworker: "I was at his wedding" Me: " You know him much better than I do then." :)
That made me think, one, it's obviously a small world, but also, isn't that the power of networking, whether offline or online? You never know who you're going to connect with, and you never know who they're already connected to!
A couple of folks in the comments there have already pointed out the obvious, being subscribed to someone on Friendfeed, and maybe seeing just the headline of a blog post included in my feed, does not an RSS subscriber make. In fact, as I've pointed out many times, while I'm happy to pull all my various stuff on to Friendfeed and make it available in one place as a convenience to you, I really don't like the fact that my full text RSS feed gets reduced to a lousy headline there. I think that makes Friendfeed a crappy way to interact with RSS feeds. Given the fact that traffic from Friendfeed to my blogs is basically non-existent, I assume that the folks on Friendfeed who want to read my blog are subscribed to it elsehwere for the full feed, and now being counted again as subscribers, for no good reason. On top of that, since Friendfeed is lumping everyone together, both of my blogs, and I assume the blog I occasionally write technology posts for, are getting the same subscriber counts, when it's obvious to anyone who looks through my subscribers that very few of them would have any interest in reading both blogs.
In fact the subscriber numbers for my Child Abuse Survivor blog, which draws very few tech-savvy readers likely to use RSS, went up close to 300% today. I highly doubt any of the 153 Friendfeed-reported subscribers even know it's included there, let alone read it!
Don't get me wrong, I've always taken subscriber counts with a grain of salt. Just because Bloglines reports a number doesn't mean all of those people even still use Bloglines, or log in and read anything, for example, but I could at least figure the actual number of folks reading was some percentage of what was reported, and be pretty accurate. Now, that percentage got a lot lower, and I'm not sure subscriber counts mean anything at all.
I can either ignore the increase in subscriber counts, or pull my blog feeds out of Friendfeed so they don't get polled any more. Given the paucity of traffic or comments from my Friendfeed stream, I'm tempted to do the latter. However, that would go against my theory of pulling the blog posts to any number of different services (Twitter, Facebook, RSS, etc.) so that you, the reader, can follow along wherever you already hang out. So, I'll just ignore the increased subscriber counts. They are truly meaningless.
On the e-discovery 2.0 blog yesterday at least, he gets what I've been saying about social media in regards to legal risks, there's not much that's new here:
There’s talk of intellectual property being cast out, irrevocably, onto the Internet for all to see. Or slanderous things being uttered for which your company may be held liable. But, hold on a second: is there really anything new here? Anyone heard of e-mail? Web pages? Peer-to-peer? Google? Instant messaging?
I'd actually go further, anyone heard of the telephone, or face to face conversations in public places? (Not to mention cell phone conversations on a commuter train, *cough*)
Any time one of the people who work for your organization is talking to someone outside of the organization, there's a risk they'll say something they shouldn't about their workplace, and yet we still actually let them do it! Shocking!
I don't know how business has survived this long, surely it's time to start requiring your workforce to live in company camps and only interact with coworkers, isn't it? I mean if you let them go out to dinner, or to a ball game, you have no idea who they might be sitting next to and who they might strike up a conversation with. Surely you can't risk them complaining about their job, or leaking confidential information, can you? These communications must be blocked! Or at the very least we should have strongly worded and specific policies regarding any and all such possibilities. Just giving employees general guidelines that apply to all such situations can't possibly be enough. We need a new policy for every new possibility!
Ran across this idea from a local Blogger/Tweeter, @wyliemac, and I think it has some real intriguing possibility. I've often seen local events that I might want to help out, but because of other commitments I couldn't volunteer, or attend, and even the lowest sponsorship levels are out of the question for an individual, so I wind up not doing anything.
And other than Startup Weekend, the big institutional investors seem reluctant to sponsor small niche tech events like the ones I put on. As a thank you to my sponsors, I’d like to give back by helping tech events in Columbus find sponsors. Little sponsors. You and I. The ones with “personal brands”.
I want to put together a syndicate of people that give a little to pool their money for sponsorship. The event will have a link to a landing page with all of the individual sponsors and we’ll also set up individual pages so you can get some Google juice.
As I said, an interesting idea for local events, which are pretty niche events by their nature most of the time, especially the first event he's trying this with, which is a Ruby developer's conference. Since I'm not a developer, I'll just be watching to see how this works more than being directly involved, but I do wonder if this sort of model might work in the Legal Tech industry. Obviously, with all the vendors in the Litigation Support and e-Discovery space, there's usually pretty good sponsorship, but I wonder if we couldn't get a group of bloggers to create a cooperative effort like this? Maybe not for national events, but perhaps for some regional and local events?
What benefits, aside from the cooperative web page linked and promoted by the event, would make you consider donating $25 towards a sponsorship? What events do you want to support in that way, even without further benefit, if the opportunity was available?
That's the point of my latest eDiscoTECH blog post over at the firm's blog, where I also try, probably not very successfully, to simplify the difference between keyword and concept searching for folks who aren't up on the algorithm.
If you're interested in taking a look, you can see it here.
One of the suggestions about sharing your blog was to create a Facebook fan page for it. So I did. You can become a fan of this blog on Facebook now, see the latest posts, and have discussions with other readers who are on Facebook, without actually having to "friend" me to do it. :)
For the record though, I have no idea why the newest posts since Saturday appear on the Notes tab, but not on the Wall. I'm looking into that.
I was reading Josh Gilliland's post from yesterday about being careful not to break client confidentiality in your online networking status messages.
Here is how the risk of disclosure is possible: a Facebook user posts a status message they deem harmless, such as “I just landed ‘Company A’ as a client and have a bunch of back-up tapes to restore.”
Does this disclose any mental impressions or strategy about the case? Probably not, but it is flirting with disclosure. Moreover, Company A would probably not be thrilled with their lawyer announcing their actions in a lawsuit to 300 “friends.”
After reviewing data from imaged hard drives, the same individual posts the status message, “Wow, they really blew preserving their emails.”
If the client is somehow identifiable, there is a problem, because a mental impression of the client’s ESI is being disclosed. While the “friends” are probably in no way related to anyone in a lawsuit, disclosing a client confidence to one person is one too many.
As I read this, I was reminded of something I often talk about with people when it comes to social networking tools. The first rule of social networking has got to be "Don't be Stupid". In this case, anyone who works as a lawyer, or works in the legal field at all, has had client confidentiality drilled into their heads. Just because Twitter, or Facebook is easy to update and new doesn't mean those same old rules don't apply. Thinking they don't, is stupid.
So 60% of Twitter users quit after one month or less? Actually, that doesn't surprise me at all. I don;t think Twitter is necessarily for everyone first off, and more than that, it's actually kind of difficult to figure out at first, and takes quite a bit of work before you see the benefits. Most of the world simply never gets past the need for instant gratification and takes to the time to find the benefits.
Here's a simple comparison, go sign up for a new Facebook account. It'll ask you to import your address book and look for folks you know. It'll ask you to fill out your profile information, and take the place you work, or the school you went to, and makes those links, so you're one click away from seeing the search results for other folks with that same information. So you can see your classmates and coworkers within 5, maybe 10, minutes of signing up. Then you can add photos, and fill in all sort of other interests, and information about yourself.
Now, go sign up for a new Twitter account. You might be able to figure out how to have Twitter import your email contacts, and identify contacts who are using Twitter, and you can fill out a short profile about yourself, link to a website, and upload one photo. Then what? On Twitter.com how do you find people you might want to follow? How do you identify people you already know from your work or school? You can't. If you heard about Twitter on TV or read about it in the paper, and decided to check it out, what do you do from here? So, you try it out, and then you decide it's a waste of time.
Now, of course, if you start Twittering because someone you already know who is a big user, showed it to you, got you signed up and got you connected to some people, Twitter starts to make sense, and the benefits are clear much sooner. I'm betting the quit rate for those folks is less than 60%, at least.
So, will Twitter do something to make it easier to connect, or continue to rely on third-parties to do so? It would help to have something obvious to new users on the site itself. It shouldn't require high level of web-savviness to use, that only limits the audience.
On the other hand, what might really kill Facebook is the fact that somehow, fan pages are now part of the suggested friends list. As you know, I've always had complaints about the way Facebook tries to figure out who you might be friends with, based on who else your current friends are connected to. I had hoped that this overly simplistic algorithm would be replaced by something more intelligent.
Apparently, instead of making it more intelligent, they went the other way, now suggesting things I might alos be a fan of. As if letting all my contacts know that I'm a fan of Summer, or Mothers, is all important to me.
C'mon, you have to have something better than this?
According to Mike Elgan, if they purchase Twitter, that'll be exactly what they are developing with Google Profiles.
Is it possible that is what Google is planning? Sure. Could they develop something absolutely, positively, useful? Obviously they know how to do that with other products. Will it "kill" Facebook? Eh, maybe.
This actually brings up an idea that I've been talking to many people about lately when it comes to using Social Networking tools, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Friendfeed, etc. It's not just about having a service that allows you to link up your websites, photos and adding a status update piece, it's about who else is there. The thing that makes Facebook attractive as either a personal or professional networking tool, is who's already there. For example, I don't hang around Facebook because it's such a high quality tool, I hang around there because I can keep u with familiy members, people I went to school with, people I work with, and many other folks. They are all on there, and using it to share news, photos, etc. with each other. On top of that, it's pretty easy to locate folks, by having your own High School/College information, work information, etc. entered on yojur profile.
As of right now, there's no impetus to create a Google profile, because there's just no one there, and no real way to find anyone. Will buying Twitter and integrating Blogger, Gmail, Calendar and other Google propertes turn Google Profiles into an impressive tool? Probably, but any social network is only as good as the people on it. I didn't join a single one of those networks until after I knew there were some folks using them who I wanted to connect with, and I'm a pretty early adopter. The rest of the non-tech geeks of the world aren't going to jump to Google just because it's there. They'll jump if there are enough people they know to make it compelling.
By the way, this is also why it's impossible to answer the "would you pay $ per month for Twitter" question. I would pay some amount for what I have right now with Twitter, but if 60-75% of the people I'm connected to decide they won't, then the value proposition changes dramatically for me, and maybe I wouldn't pay anything any more. The value is the people who are there, you can't remove that from the equation.
Training Blog and My Latest Blog Post for the Firm
I spotted this on a link from one of the many people I follow on Twitter this evening, The Lit Support Trainer's Blog. It's relatively new, but I'm interested in seeing something dedicated to training others to do Lit Support work. As a Certified Summation Trainer, I've done a bit of training in our firm on using Summation, and am always interested in hearing how others manage to get training done, so I'll be keeping an eye on it, for sure!
In other news, the latest blog post I wrote for the work blog is up, titled e-discovery 2.0, it's a reminder to legal departments and lawyers that their organizations data might not end at the corporate firewall anymore, it may be in the cloud!
It's sort of different writing over there, one because there is much more of a sense of having to do it, as well as being very careful in what I say, since it's representing the firm, not just me! I definitely like writing representing myself better, but it's important to bring some value to the table in your career, so I'm more than happy to bring my years of blogging to the table there! Any extra value I can bring in this legal downturn can only be a good thing.
Those are the 4 P's of social networking, according to Doug Cornelius. Go check out his theory of how to measure the information you decide to put online, or not.
I think he's on to something, but also that there's something missing. Mostly, what I see missing is the idea that you can always separate personal and professional information. It's the same thought that occurs to me when people say they use LinkedIn for professional networking, and Facebook just for their friends. That eliminates the possibility that the people you know professionally are also your friends. It's not always possible to separate professional information from personal.
For example, this site is a personal endeavor. I do this on my personal time, spend my own money on the hosting costs, and it is not affiliated at all with my firm, but there's a ton of professional information on here, and I list it on my resume. So is the work I put into this site personal or professional?
Like I've said before, the line between work life and personal life just gets thinner and thinner. Inevitably, they'll just blur together to some degree as people follow our activities online more and more.
One of the more interesting conversations I had in New York with the family was, oddly enough, about social networking. Mostly due to the fact that I had "connected" with some of the family I was seeing that day on Facebook, and was sharing my plans to be part of a Social Networking presentation later this year. The subject elicited a variety of opinions, as it always does in any group, let alone a multi-generational gathering like this.
Among this gathering was my father's cousin, Philly. Now, Philly is older than my father by a couple of years, and I'm 40, so that should give you some idea of Philly's age. He's always been a bit of a character, quick to share a story or an opinion. Like many, he couldn't understand "why anyone cares what you had for lunch". I agreed with him on that, but tried to point out that there is a lot more than that.
Later in the day, Philly was sharing some details about growing up in the neighborhood where we were that day. He detailed for us how most of the family lived in the same couple of neighborhoods in Brooklyn, let alone all in the larger metro area. Being basically the first generation born in the US my grandparents and their siblings pretty much stayed right in the area they'd known their whole lives and their kids all grew up together. Over the next generation though, as more people in the family accumulated a bit more wealth, they started moving away. Families grew larger, and eventually began to disperse, first around the Tri-State area, and eventually out to Ohio, Florida, etc. and lost touch. That sense of community around the family started to get lost, and as a result, here I was seeing people I hadn't seen in 20 years, meeting my college aged cousin for the very first time, and getting my first glimpse of other cousin's who now had kids of their own.
I'm sure the story is familiar to many of you, but I couldn't help but go back to the previous discussion about social networks as he was talking about the downside of the family becoming more wealthy and dispersed. When my family moved to Ohio in 1984, the options for keeping in touch with my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. were pretty limited. Frankly I have to admit, much to my embarrassment, it didn't really happen.
Yet here we are in 2009, and I am getting updates from cousins, looking at photos they post of their kids and photos my uncle posted of his trip to Italy, etc. Almost as if we were back in Brooklyn getting together with the family. It's not a full replacement, but it sure helps people stay connected more than they have been able to up until now.
Even Philly had to admit that maybe this would be a great reason to use social networking tools. It brings just a little bit of that old neighborhood feel to otherwise distant families.
Normally, I respect what Preston Galla writes about over at Computerworld, but yesterday's article just seemed like a whole lot of FUD to me.
The BBC reports that researchers at the University of Texas at Austin were able to take completely anonymous data from Flickr and Twitter, run an algorithm on it, and from that reconstruct people's real names and addresses. They were able to do that to a third of the people who used both social networks.
Now add Google information to the mix, and you can imagine how easy it would be to personally identify people, and then match them not just to their interests and surfing habits, but actual conversations and what they do in their everyday lives, as revealed by Twitter.
First of all, just on first blush the fact that researchers could take anonymous data and match it to a real name a third of the time doesn't really surprise me at all. How many people link to their websites from Flickr and Twitter, thus giving easy access to anyone to figure out who they are from the information on those sites? I'd actually guess it's higher than a third! Seriously, if you took identifying information out of my Twitter and Flickr streams, you'd still be able to figure out how often photos from my stream show up on this site, and how often my Twitter stream links to this blog, right? It's almost as if I want you to know who I am!
Granted, I'm not overly familiar with the study, this is just a gut reaction not an overly informed opinion of the study's methodologies.
Speaking of which, Preston's last line that I quoted is downright confusing. as a commenter noted on the article:
I thought people used Twitter so people would know what they were doing? If you don't want people (including Google) to know then don't post. Problem solved.
Yes, it seems that Preston, in the midst of his privacy zeolousness, has forgotten that the point of social networking sites like Twitter, is to share information! If there's information I don't want Google, or anyone else, to know I don't post it to Twitter!
There are plenty of real privacy issues, with Google and many other areas of life, that people should be concerned about, let's not ruin that capital telling people how horrilbe it is that a site who's whole purpose is to share information you post, is actually sharing the information you post!
I read a quote in this article about Facebook Friend Collector's being pretty normal, that really sums up the value in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook for me.
"You can ask somebody, 'Of your 300 Facebook friends how many are actually friends?' and people will say, 'Oh, 30 or 40 or 50,'" Professor Baym said.
"But what having a lot of weak-tie relationships is giving you access to are a lot of resources that you wouldn't otherwise have."
One of the common "complaints" I hear about people who use social networking, from those who don't, is that following, or friending, hundreds or thousands of people, doesn't mean anything becase you couldn't possibly "know" that many people. It's not about knowing everything about people, it's having access to them, and their ideas, even in a limited way.
I follow over 450 people on Twitter currently. There are only a handful that I follow closely enough to really consider them close friends. I assume over time that number will grow, as I meet up with new folks in person and develop relationships, but I can't imagine it'll ever be the majority of the people I follow. That doesn't mean that those other connections don't bring value. I'm following them precisely because they are people I want to be connected to, people in my field that I read and respect, people who are sharing useful tech information, or information on local events and news, etc. It's connecting me to people I wouldn't have any other way to connect to, and giving me opportunity to access more resources through those connections than I would have through any other medium.
Ain't nothing wrong with that, it might even give your employees access to more resources that make them better at their job, imagine that!
Besides, a new study even shows that a little Facebooking at work might actually increase productivity, but that's a discussion for another day.
Saw this one today while keeping an eye on tweets from ABA Techshow, proof positive that popular hashtags are easy targets. I suspect this will continue, and if it works for the spammers at all, it'll be out of control fairly soon!
Since someone sent me an email about not being able to post comments here yesterday, I thought I'd put up a post and see if anyone else had been having problems trying to do the same. It worked just fine when I went to check on it, using Firefox, and I haven't found any widespread complaints about Blogger's comment form having current issues, but you never know if there's something out there that I'm just not aware of.
So, if you've had issues with comments, and left without leaving on because of it recently, can you do me a favor and hit the email link on the left-column and let me know? Thanks!
There was much talk about Skittles redesigning their homepage to be more "social media" friendly and transparent. They certainly accomplished that, and generated a lot of buzz.
They decided the best way to market their product was to simply show you what other people were saying about it, so their homepage was now simply showing the live Twitter search results for "skittles". Like other online marketing schemes involving Twitter, it didn't take long for this to turn into a great big mess.
This was a screenshot I grabbed this morning of the Twitter search results. (Click to view larger)
Clearly, the open invitation to appear on Skittles.com was too much for many people to resist. Of the 9 results listed there, 5 are links to "win a free netbook" scams. Relying on Twitter hashtags to follow a popular conference, or event, is opening yourself up to seeing exactly these kinds of results.
Of course, the idea behind the new skittles.com is an interesting one, and isn't really all that new. The best marketing is having people who don't work for you speak well of you. Social networking tools allow for those kinds of conversations to flourish, and being able to capture that can be very effective. The trick though, is to capture other people's natural conversations without influencing them. These sort of open invitations to be seen on your homepage, or the TV news or to win a prize, is an open invitation for people to do stupid stuff they wouldn't normally do, just to be "seen" in the search results. As we see here with skittles, it also opens up yet another avenue for spammers.
I doubt this is the last time we'll see something like this, and I suspect that, as Twitter becomes even more mainstream, the search feature will deteriorate because it'll simply be too easy to spam the heck out of any hashtag related to any big happenings, SXSW, for example. That will be a loss for those of us used to following hashtags, but it's an opening for Twitter, or another company, to find a better way.
In the mean time, I fully expect to see more people posting things to twitter just to be "seen" wherever search results are going to appear, and hopefully losing followers as a result.
He then goes on to use the word "I" somewhere in the neighborhood of 27 times in 7 short paragraphs. So, despite the title, the content of his post is really "I use Twitter to follow topics and listen, not to follow people", which is fine if that is how he wants to use Twitter.
I don't happen to think that's how everyone should use Twitter. Certainly, I follow enough people that we all know I don't read every tweet, but I follow the people I follow for a reason, and I love interacting with them and creating new connections in my industry, or who are local to me. My wife currently follows 40 people, I think. She is absolutely using it to follow select people, and is enjoying doing just that. Does that make her a poor Twitter user, or someone who is using the tool to do what she wants to do with it?
Twitter, like every other social network out there is a tool, nothing more nothing less. If the tool works for you, use it, if it works for you differently than it does for me, great, use it that way. If it doesn't work for what you want to do, don't use it.
Well, I know it won't be something I do a lot of, but in the last week or so I've had to do some researching and writing at work, starting with that blog post last week, and it's just killing my motivation to write anything here in the evenings. Heck, I've been struggling just to post anything to Twitter! I'm not suffering from writer's block, but perhaps writer's burnout?
It's a bit like spending a good part of your work day fighting malware infections and coming home to an infected PC, there's just no spare mental energy for that, so it'll sit until things change.
I won't let the blogs just sit, that's not acceptable to me, but you may see just some shorter thoughts, and just some link with a pithy comment or two of my own. Of course, as soon as I post this, there's bound to be some idea floating around the 'Net that makes me want to write multiple paragraphs! ;)
Anyway, bear with me while I figure out the best way to adjust to these new writing responsibilities, and if you have any suggestions that might help, I'm all ears!
Basically, a bunch of interesting things too long for Twitter, and dumped into one post. :)
The Typical Mac User podcast this week had an interesting interview covering Mac Forensics. There was some good info regarding the general idea of how forensics works for all OSes, and lots of good stuff about Mac forensics that you don't hear as much about in the e-Discovery world, but which does come in to play!
Speaking of e-Discovery, I was asked to start blogging as part of the day job, and posted my first topic over there yesterday. It feels weird to have a blog post showing up on the firm's site with my name on it. I spent a lot more time and mental energy on that post than I normally do on things here, that's for sure, and I still published with a feeling of abject terror that I was getting something wrong and it would cost me. I guess, as much as we all need to get ourselves more visibility in this economy, actually having more is going to take some getting used to.
One way to create more visibility for yourself is networking internally in your organization. I wrote about that in terms of getting the IT department out of their silo over on Friends in Tech this week, and also heard more about in on the Career Tools Podcast entitled An Especially Important Relationship In A Downturn, referring to your boss's peers. I think there's some real validity to building good relationships within your organization and making sure people are aware of what value you are bringing to the table.
As if we didn't know things were bad all over, they're already trying to decide what to call yesterday, as law firm layoff announcements came fast and furious all in the same day! Those are just the BigLaw firm numbers too, they're not tracking small to mid-sized firms like the one I work for, and all the layoffs that occurred in most of those places lately.
On a more lighthearted note, after ranting about the utter junk that retweet this to win contests were last week, I picked up a few followers on twitter that, I suspect, are following me because of the wording I used. Unfortunately, it appears to be a case of poor use of search terms, as the context of my posts about social media and contests would normally have led people using twitter to promote contests not to follow me. However, they appear to have found the terms in my tweets and followed away!
There was an ABA Techshow Roadshow in Boston today, and I enjoyed following long with some folks on Twitter. It wasn't until much later in the day that I found out that Jared Correia was live-blogging it using Cover-It Live, and pulling in the tweets to the stream as well. You can read the full day's coverage over at the Mass LOMAP Blog.
I'm not sure I like the interface for Cover It Live, but there's no arguing that the stream being archived as you go in one place certainly makes for good live-blogging!
What do you think? Have you ever used the service, would you?
It's brand new, and it appears to be anonymous, but with so few sites dedicated to Litigation Support, other than e-discovery, when I saw this mentioned on a LinkedIn group today, I just had to share. http://litsupportman.blogspot.com/
From the site's description:
I am an individual who has held various leadership positions in the Litigation Support Industry spanning close to 20 years. This blog is an account of my life in the Litigation Support Field.
This is my first attempt at using Zemanta, a Firefox Extension that hooks into your blog's compose page and suggests related multimedia and related blog articles to what you are currently writing about.
From the description I think there's definitely some intriguing possibilities here, in terms of adding additional value to a blog post, but at the same time, it's a bit cluttered, what with all the extra options now being presented to me. (And really, do we need this for email too? I don't see that, but whatever floats your email boat, so to say...)
I'm just learning about this tool, so I'm going to see what parts of it can actually add value to my posts, and which ones I want to use. Consider this a quick test, and let me know what you think.
This is part 2 to the previous post about Twitter as networking tool as opposed to media tool. In Part 1, I talked about why the term media didn't fit for me, and why companies and others using these "tweet to win a prize" were being foolish. In this post I want to talk to you, yes you, the people who are actually buying into these contests and how you've violated the trust.
Again, let's go back to the metaphor of Twitter and other tools being one large, energizer bunny kind of networking event. When I drop myself into the event, I'm looking to catch up with the folks I know already, share information back and forth about things that interest us (and this is not at all limited to professional information, the people you want to connect with need not have anything to do with your work.), and maybe get introduced to some new people who can benefit from being involved in the conversations.
At this offline event, "connecting" would be the equivalent of exchanging business cards, or contact information. There's an implicit understanding that by giving you my contact information I'm saying "you are someone I'm interested in keeping in touch with". I'm trusting that, based on our initial interaction, you will continue to be a source of good information, that knowing each other can be mutually beneficial, and that further communication back and forth is warranted in order to develop that.
Note, that much like we see people complain about with Twitter, it's to be expected that we'll discuss things that are not related to the one topic we may have shared at the event. Certainly, I've worked with people professionally who have become friends and we've discussed plenty of personal stories, or talked sports, or any other topics that we both enjoy discussing. That's a natural outgrowth of many relationships, much to everyone's benefit.
Of course, as with offline networking events there is always that one person who sees it as their mission to collect contact information any way they can and then pushing a product to you whether you have any interest or not, and generally not caring one iota about anything you have to say beyond your ability to buy from them. Those people, rightly, get ignored pretty fast. (Unfollowed in the Twitter vernacular.) They violated the trust that you placed by giving them your contact information. They got you to connect with them through a shared interest only as a bait and switch method.
We see this sort of bait and switch on Twitter from time to time, and it's easy enough to block these folks and move on. Irritating, yes, but we've been around the online block enough to know there will always be someone being a jerk like that.
However, the retweeters looking to win a prize don't even fall in to this category. This is the Web 2.0 equivalent of mass chain emails. Is there really a difference between "I want to win a free dinner" and the Web 1.0 version; "I don't know if this is true, but just in case it is...." email? As I look at the people I follow who are doing the Morton's contest, I know these people are far too savvy to send those kinds of emails, but they still do this? Does their savviness only extend to the fact that those emails were a fraud? If they hadn't been a fraud would they have violated every one of their friend's inboxes with these emails? Apparently so.
Here's the thing that hasn't changed since those emails though. I have a number of followers (Maybe a few less after I post these...), and I appreciate the fact that they find me interesting enough to follow me there. That means something to me. Much like all the folks who read this blog, I know you follow because you trust me to provide something of value to you. Some posts are more valuable than others, granted, and some of more meaningful to some of my readers as opposed to others, but I try very hard not to throw stuff up here that doesn't give you, the reader, anything, even if it's just sharing a bit of myself. A little personality online isn't a bad thing by any means. :)
The question is, how much is your trust worth to me? How much would someone have to pay me to write a tweet or blog post that I know going in doesn't provide any value to you? Since I don't do any of this for money, and don't even have ads here, obviously it'll never be about the money.
How much do I value my place in your twitter stream or RSS reader stream, and how much do you value your place in my Twitter stream? If you're willing to sell out that space for the chance to win dinner, or a free game, book, etc. I have to assume you don't value it much at all. I also have to wonder about your integrity. If you're willing to post nice things about a company you've never dealt with on the chance they will give you something for free, why should I believe you when you talk about other products or services you've had good experiences with? You've already pimped yourself out once, for next to nothing.
Of course, in the case at hand, you didn't really have to post anything nice, and it was fairly obvious that you were participating in a contest, so your integrity is in tact, right? Maybe, but I do have to wonder about dealing professionally, or even personally, with people who value the connections they've made so little that they would continue to pollute the stream with contest entries. Again, you wouldn't send emails or have face to face conversations with these same people like this. It would be considered the height of rudeness. It's not communication, that requires you to actually care that the people you say it to are listening. Obviously, you don't care what your followers do with your tweet, you just want your prize!
On top of that, we all know there are a ton of very smart, talented people who we could all benefit from interacting with on Twitter. When I have an opportunity to show them the tool and how it works, how is it going to come across as anything more than a waste of time when they open it up and see my followers all talking about trying to win a free dinner? Even if your touting just Twitter as social entertainment, how does that help you?
Here's the funny part, if you provide me with enough great information, or help me figure out a problem I'm having, or provide me with a great opportunity through our connection, I'll be glad to do the same when I can. Real connections bring about real opportunities, taking part in marketing gimmicks that annoy your followers doesn't. I love being able to show my appreciation to folks who have helped me along the way and offer to help others when I can. Heck, I might even buy you dinner. ;)
This is a follow up to yesterday's post about Morton's use of twitter. As Aaron and Angela both correctly point out in the comments, this sort of behavior devalues Twitter as a communication tool. I want to stop referring to Twitter and like-tools as "media" because media doesn't even begin to cover what it does.
Here's the thing, comparing online communication tools using a term that has nothing to do with two-way communication automatically invites people, in this case marketing people, to view the tool in the same way they view radio, print and television, as a place to get a message out to people who will consume the message.
As @michaelramm pointed out to me today on Twitter, yes you can use Twitter to pass along information to a large group of people, but it's also much more than that. It's also a terrific networking tool, allowing people to connect and share information and ideas on a one-to-one basis. That's the thing that differentiates not just Twitter, but the internet as a whole. It's not just about consuming information, it's a true marketplace. It's a large, never ending, networking event, if you like.
Let's take that metaphor and understand why all these "retweet to win a prize" gimmicks are just that, gimmicky. Let's say we are all at one large networking event, where you have to option to make as many connections as you can, and speak with all of them simultaneously. Sure, the event has sponsers, and you'll probably have to listen to a few words from each of them. Some of the folks in attendance are also working in sales, and want the opportunity to talk to you about their product. You, of course, have the option to say no, that product isn't really a fit for me, and you each move on. Certainly the people you have made connections with may find a product, or person that can be useful for you, so they pass along that information, doing great word of mouth marketing because they have had a good experience.
All of these things go on at networking events, and online, everyday. I have no problem with any of it. However, do you ever see anyone walking around a networking event and starting every conversation with "I'm trying to win a contest, so let me mention the name of a company you dont care at all about, just because they might give me a prize!"
You wouldn't stand for it. It's bad form on two fronts, one for the company in question, the other for the person doing the retweeting.
The company in question isn't asking people they have a relationship with to help spread the word about their product based on their own good experience, they are asking people who know nothing about them, to talk about them online in exchange for "payment" in the form of contest entries. It tells me that you aren't generating enough word of mouth, so you're resporting to a gimmick. It makes me wonder why you have to resort to this instead of encouraging people to talk about their own experience with you. Maybe it's because no one actually has had a good experience? On top of that, you're asking people to annoy their friends, is annoyance really the way you want me to remember your name? Surely a company like Morton's doesn't need to resort to this, and surely a company like Fahlgren Mortine, who in my interctions with folks who work there do actually seem to get social networking sites like Twitter, can do better.
The second, and more aggravating, front for me are all the people who continue to go along with this kind of thing, which I will explain in more detail in the next post.
Today, I've learned how to use Tweetdeck's filter feature. That's the little option at the bottom of each column that lets you filter out certain tweets based on any word. I was filtering out everything with MVDAY, a hash tag being used to enter a local contest.
The contest gives you a chance to “Tweet” your sweetheart to a Steak & Seafood for Two dinner at Morton’s The Steakhouse, complimentary valet parking, and roses from Connells Maple Lee Flowers and Gifts on Valentine’s Day. To be eligible to win, Tweet about why you want to take your significant other to Morton’s Columbus on Valentine’s Day in 140 characters or less. You must follow these rules:
Participants must live in Central Ohio
Participants need to include this hash tag in the tweet: #MVDAY
The words “Morton’s Columbus” must be included in the Tweet (exactly as written, but without the quotes)
Participants can enter multiple times as long as the Tweet is unique every time and the above rules are followed.
As someone who follows a number of local people on twitter, let me rephrase the contest into what it really means. Spam the hell out of your followers with inane tweets mentioning a restaurant on the outside chance that you might actually be the one person to win a nice dinner from them, in fact, the more you do it, the more likely you'll be to be the one winner!
Shockingly, despite this absolutely outlandish request to bug the heck out of tweeters in Central Ohio, many, many of the people I follow spent the day telling everyone how much they want to eat at Morton's. Personally, I may just decide to never eat there, and instead donate some money to a tool that let me filter out all of that crap and see the tweets I actually cared about.
Oh, and I may have to rethink some of the people I follow too....
A few of these cover Day 1's sessions but either they were posted after I went to bed yesterday, or today. Probably has something to do with the Wifi problems I've seen mentioned on Twitter. Can't update the blog without it! :)
Quite a lot going on today, thanks to everyone who has been blogging and twittering up a storm to keep the rest of us in the loop! If I missed anyone blogging the conference, drop a link in the comments!
Here's the feed to the Yahoo Pipe I'm using the track stuff from LegalTech this week. If you subscribe to this it'll keep up with things I might change during the next few days, for example if I add Flickr photos or some other service that I see folks are using once the conference gets started tomorrow.
Regardless of what happens with that though, as I mentioned previously, I'll be posting a link round-up of blog posts as well, so if you see any, or are writing any, let me know!
Much like I did last year with the ILTA Conference, I'm working with some search feeds to track the various things people are putting up online about the Legal Tech Conference this week. At this time, the feed is still a work in progress, pulling in lots of duplicate items, so I don't want to share that with you all until I feel like it's something worth sharing.
If I don't get it, rest assured I'll be putting up a post with links to any blog posts covering sessions each evening, and know that you can also follow along the twitter conversations on the LexTweet collection of attendees.
If you're going to be blogging about LegalTech this week, drop a link to your blog in the comments, so I can be sure to follow your blog and link to anything you have to say about your experience. Hopefully, I can pull together enough information so that those of us unable to attend, can still get something from the sessions!
They should be working again. I don't really know why, or how, but whatever was going on between Google's Feedburner service and Yahoo's Delicious service seems to have been corrected. So, starting tonight the "links of the day" post should make it's reappearance in the RSS feed again.
It would appear that way. The IPROTech Twitter account showed up in my Twitter followers today, and they pointed to the brand new IPROTech blog. It's always interesting when the folks behind a product you use on a regular basis join the SM fray. I'm going to be paying attention, and see if they put out anything useful!
If you use any of their products, you should do the same.
Those of you who subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog haven't been getting the daily summary of Del.ico.us links that is usually included in the feed, because, apparently, the new and improved Feedburner, broke that feature.
Also, the Photography and Lit Support pages, which normally incorporate those posts into the page by using the RSS feed to republish those tags, are missing them.
Hopefully, it will be working soon. In the mean time, all the things I've posted to del.ico.us are over there on the site.
I was talking just the other day with someone on Twitter about creating some sort of tracking RSS feed for the LegalTech conference Feb 2-4 in New York. Much like last year's ILTA conference, since I won't be there, I am going to try and use the resources available to me to track the online conversation as well.
Well, turns out, at least on the Twitter front, I won't have to work too hard to track it. Kevin O' Keefe and LexTweet are going to be creating a tracking group of Twitter users attending LegalTech. Nice!
Hopefully it'll have an RSS feed that I can dump into a Yahoo Pipe along with blog search terms, and track the conference pretty easily. If I get something useful, I'll be sure to share.
Obviously, when I started the Child Abuse Survivor Network, I expected people to join and connect with each other. I never once imagined that those connections would lead to an opportunity for one of the members to sell a piece of artwork.
It just goes to show, blogging, twittering, and all the other ways we interact with folks on the Web open up more opportunities than we can imagine. I know I've already be graced with great opportunities to do some different things, and learn from some different folks because of my involvement online. I'm sure you all have stories like this one as well.
As we looked around, I was struck by how much of Warhol's work involved videotaping, photographing, reproducing with paint, and recording just what was going on around him and sharing it with the world. Isn't that what Web 2.0 is all about? Taking the art of our every day lives, and sharing it with the world?
Now, granted, Warhol was smart enough to surround himself with creative, interesting people, and add stimuli that made the things going on around him maybe a bit more interesting than what you and I see every day. (And yeah, the drug culture of the time certainly added to that as well.) On the other hand, we have every opportunity to connect with creative, interesting people all over the world, and have that influence our own "art" in a positive direction.
As I consider the possibilities the Web presents us, I'm struck with how much possibility there is to create art in our lives. What are you doing to make your art more interesting?
An interesting new tool from the fine folks at Lexblogs, LexTweet is:
Lextweet is a new website developed by LexBlog showcasing members of the legal community who are using Twitter as well as what they are tweeting.
Lextweet community members include lawyers as well as other professionals serving our legal profession. I have learned equally from marketing professionals, publishers, service providers, law students, and other professionals as from other lawyers during my time on Twitter.
Interestingly, when I first looked at LexTweet, the language on the site left me thinking it was just a list of lawyers who were on twitter, however as Kevin's blog post makes clear, and the fact that I found myself already listed on there, it is not limited to lawyers, but to everyone in the legal industry. It looks like something that is going to continue to improve and develop some new features, so I'm looking forward to watching this grow.
So, you know I started a Ning network for Child Abuse Survivors and Supporters last week. So far, things have started pretty well, but I want to get the word out as much as possible.
Now, the problem, of course, is that for the safety of the members of the community, you have to be a member of the network to see anything that's been posted. That pretty much rules out any search hits leading folks to stumble into the site, or any of the content being indexed by Google.
Given the fact that I can't do much to get SEO for the site, I'm wondering if any of you social media marketing types have any advice for how to get the word out? Outside of encouraging anyone, and everyone, to blog about it, or tell their friends, what else could I be doing to let folks know about this resource, and grow the network? (And yes, I'd appreciate any and all posts spreading the word to folks! Feel free!)
Not a major one, just a minor one. Since Blogger has added the ability to have the comment form be embedded underneath the post, I thought I'd try it out and save ya'll a click when you wanted to leave a comment, maybe. Let's see how this works...
I think I like it, even the subscribe to comments link is there if you want to follow the RSS feed for that entry's comments, and there's a nice dropdown to choose how you want to identify yourself with your comment, using a Google Account, OpenID, etc.
Wordpress allows for multiple authors, and allows me, as the administrator, to limit contributors to only post drafts, that do not get published until I review it, but doesn't have an option for me to get an email when there's a new post waiting for me to review? Seriously?
Is it just me, or does it seem like having that feature built-in should be a no-brainer? I think it should be, but I guess it isn't built-in to Wordpress. Guess I'll have to look for a plugin that accomplshes it easily.
At lunch today, a friend asked me how I found out about all the various activities going on around Columbus. She mentioned that I had talked about going to a couple of things that she didn't even know about.
After a moment to think about where I had heard about them, it struck me that I was more "in the loop", if you will, about local events because of the very strong and active Columbus Twitter community.
Take a look at the tracking page that someone put together for Columbus Twits, you'll see a bunch of local media folks, people from the various museums and theaters, some convention and visitor's bureau folks, and just a wide variety of people who are out and about town talking about upcoming activities. You can't help but know more about what's going on around town if you start following some of these folks.
Of course, after mentioning I was learning about events on Twitter, I had to then explain what the heck Twitter is, which I probably did a horrible job of. I followed up with a link to Twitter in Plain English, to help correct my poor explanation.
We'll see if she becomes the next Columbus Twit. :)
The last time I redesigned the blog to give folks the option of following just blog posts tagged as tech or litigation support, etc. I changed the front page on the site to a "splash" page, that just pointed to the various sections. (The "Many Faces..." if you will.)
That never quite made me happy, but as with most things, I couldn't find anything that satisfied me to put up there instead. Tonight, I'm trying something a little different, using Feed Informer to list the latest postings in that category as a headline list underneath the category title. I'm still not sold that this is the perfect solution to what I want, but it does at least add some dynamic content as opposed to a static splash page.
Besides, after putting this project off for months, I found the solution to getting motivated to work on it, I'm using this to procrastinate another project I should be working on. *L*
Let me just say, up front, that I'm not a marketing guy. I don't work in marketing, and I don't particularly like the way many places go about marketing.
That being said, I know quite a few people who do work in marketing, and I'm always interested in how people in the legal industry market themselves, so I do occasionally come upon some legal marketing stuff online and take a look. Today was one of those times. A post by Steve Matthews over at Stem's Law Firm Web Strategy.
Now Steve was responding to Matt Homann's 10 New Rules for Legal Marketing and one of Matt's "rules" caught my eye, not so much because of the law firm marketing aspect, but because it applies to many other areas, including marketing your own career.
9. Your future clients have been living their entire lives online and will expect the same from you. If you’re invisible on the web, you won’t exist to them.
This idea struck me, as i said, because it applies to some areas of our careers now, and will continue to become more and more true in the future. As more and more hiring managers and HR people are comfortable living their lives online, they'll be looking for information about you online and will be making assumptions about you based on what they find, or don't find as may be the case. If you work in a cutting edge field, or especially if you want to work in PR, communications, marketing, etc., you'd better be using the available resources to market yourself, not only to the HR people who may Google you after getting your resume, but also as a way to connect to the people who know those HR people!
Now, outside of Silicon Valley, I have my doubts that the majority of hiring decisions include much searching online, but a significant amount of them do, and that number is only going to go up as the generation that has always used Facebook, Twitter, etc. grows into the business world and simply expects to be able to find out what they want to know about you online.
That also points out how important it is to remember that the Web is a public medium, and that you need to present yourself in the best way possible. In short, you need to use the tools we have that enable us to communicate to the world, to sell yourself. It's true for social networking, dating sites, blogging, and it's true for professional networking as well.
Earlier this month, this blogged passed it's 7th year of existence. The oldest entry on the site is from Oct. 8, 2001. I've never been one to keep track of the date and consider it impressive how long I've been doing this, so I actually missed it.
I also almost missed that yesterday's entry was the 2500th entry. Wow, that's a lot of writing. The blog, and the site has gone through a number of changes, the design has changed a few times, the focus has changed a bit, and the things I've decided to write, or not write, about over the years has changed.
The one thing that hasn't changed is why I keep going after all this time. I started out as a way to interact with my peers, the folks running IT systems for small businesses. Now, my peer group has changed somewhat over the last 7 years, moving into Helpdesk stuff, and now on to Litigation Support, but the idea of blogging is still the same. I'm still doing this because I still value the ability to interact with peers. I still value the knowledge, ideas, and discussions that having your own blog, your own space on the vast web, enable.
Of course now, I also value something else about blogging. You want to know more about me, my ideas, and where I'm coming from professionally? Here's 7 years and 2500 posts worth, and that's just this blog. Doesn't even count stuff I posted to a separate blog about beta testing Office 2003-2007, or my blog about being a Child Abuse Survivor, or the stuff I post to Twitter, Flickr, and other social networking sites. Seriously, there's a TON of stuff that I've written out on the World Wide Web, if you're curious about me and what makes me tick, wouldn't take much to read up. :)
Of course, all of that writing isn't about me, I've never really been in this to gain noteriety or anything more than to connect with folks and help each other get through our days. Hopefully somewhere in all this time, I've written something useful for you. I know I've gotten a ton out of being part of the blogospere, and continue to every day.
I was keeping an eye on Brett's ediscoveryinfo twitter account today. It wasn't quite the same as being here, but I certainly felt like I had a pretty good idea of what was going on.
This is the cool part of Twitter, being able to share shorts bursts of information in near real time with others. It helps us share what's going on, right now, as it happens. And it helps those of us who aren't there still take part in the conversation. I highly suggest you give it a try.
Over the weekend, after seeing quite a few references to it, I decided to download Tweetdeck and check it out for myself.
The idea of breaking the people I follow on Twitter into different groups was sort of intriguing, but I wasn't exactly sure how it would work out in practice. As I began to use it though, a thought occurred to me. Typically, as a Twitter user, I don't go back and catch up old tweets very I'm just not going to see it. There's too much "stuff" to go back through.
As I looked at Tweetdeck, I realized that it would go back up to 48 hours to "catch up" on tweets. What if I created a very small group of the people I would want to see anything that they might have been tweeting during the time I was offline? For example, my wife. Tweetdeck's group feature, and ability to pull in that much history, makes that easy.
Now I just have to be careful not too add so many people to my "must read" list that it becomes overwhelming. :)
Of course, I've also managed to put together a couple of other groups, one for local twits, another for legal twits, etc. That helps me keep some of the topical conversations organized a bit better, but I'm still not sure that brings me as much value as a feature as my must-read list does!
Go check out Tweetdeck and let us know what you think and what features you like best!
I've been in catch up from vacation mode all week so today was really the first time I had noticed the drop in subscribers to the RSS feed according to the Feedburner stats. A quick look at the details indicates that somehow, Bloglines started reporting only 55 subscribers, despite the fact that the Bloglines website reports many more than that.
Feedburner is pulling the 55 number from the log files, and looking at the raw log files confirms for me that Bloglines is reporting 55 subscribers there. Now, I know Bloglines is currently rolling out the beta version of the site, so maybe they simply quit updating that old subscriber number and there really are only 55 people still using Bloglines who are subscribed to the feed, or they switched to using only the beta users as the reported numbers, I'm not sure. I haven't been able to find anyone else talking about this drop, so maybe it's just me. Again, I don't really know why it was suddenly so different, and it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but I am curious to figure out what changed last weekend. So if anyone knows, leave a comment and let me know!
Or maybe spending a few days off-line cost me over a hundred subscribers? Who knows! ;)
On an E-Discovery webinar today, Browning Marean of DLA Piper was talking about the duty of attorneys to be competent to some degree with the technology they were dealing with, when he said the following:
"One way to get competent is to associate yourself with people who are competent."
Now he was referring to vendors, technologists and other experts in the field that they could learn from, or lean on when they need some form of expertise, and I couldn't agree more.
More than that, I'd say this little bit of advice works for just about any professional field or interest you may have! If you need to get competent with something, anything, find someone who already is and learn from them. On-line social networking simply allows us to do that sort of thing on a much wider scale. Now, if I have a question about something, instead of making a couple of phone calls, or asking someone I work with if they might know someone, etc. I can post my query to Twitter, which shows up on my blog, and on my Facebook, and a number of places that I don't even keep track of anymore.
That's a few hundred people, in my case, who I can ask a question of with just a little bit of typing.
I haven't even talked about the benefits of interacting with all these folks and seeing their expertise at work, learning as I go just by reading the things they post about, or being connected to people in locations, and professions, that I might need some information about, etc.
Again, take all that stuff you learned about networking from business school, or law school etc. All that information about the benefits of having an active network, of the sharing of information and contacts. Now realize that social networking tools allow anyone to do that sort of thing, with a much larger reach, even if they are somewhat shy or otherwise socially awkward.
Imagine all the things you can "get competent" at with these tools? Why aren't you?
Of course, even as I type this, the post has already been amended to include 180 folks now, and I suspect, it will keep growing. There are quite a bunch of folks on there I don't know, so it'll be interesting to surf around, take a look, and add some new legal pro's to my following list.
Looks like we have quite a number of lawyers, law librarians, and knowledge management types, but not so many law firm techs, or litigation support folks. C'mon, I know you're out there. where's the Lit Support social networkers?
I've retired the ILTA tracking feed. It's been over a week, so I'm assuming that we've pretty much got what we needed from it, and now it's starting to just be pretty empty. Hope it was of some use to all of you who subscribed to it.
Until next year, when I hope to try and talk my way in to going myself....
Adrian Lurssen was "kind" enough to tag me for the Five Blogs and Five Blawgers meme. The basic idea is that you suggested five non-legal blogs, and then tag five blawgers to do the same.
I'm going to cheat a little though. After a quick review of Steve Matthews roundup of people who have already responded, I don't know if I can come up with 5 Blawgers to tag who haven't already done this, so I'm skipping that. ;)
Of course, my relative lack of experience in the legal blogging community hinders me there, but it's those years of working in IT, and being part of the tech blogosphere that inspires me to share some of what I know of non-legal blogs. So, without further blathering, here you go.
In no specific order:
1. Career Opportunities - Douglas Welch has taken his weekly column about "High Tech Career Advice" and turned it into one of the best blogs, and podcasts, about managing your career that you will find anywhere. He brings a wealth of experience as a free-lance IT consultant and shares his insights into your career.
2. Download Squad - More information about available utilities and other software that will make your computing life easier than you can shake a stick at.
4. Security Monkey - The content may be a little on the tech/geek side for some of you, but the fascinating stories will keep you coming back, and in the process you'll find yourself picking up little bits and pieces and maybe just understanding computer forensics a little bit, which isn't a bad thing for someone in the legal industry, is it?
5. MS Outlook for Business - You work in the legal field, you use Outlook all day, every day, you should learn more about it. This is a good place to start!
There are plenty more good ones that I could list, but the meme called for 5, so I'll stick to that. On the other hand, maybe I should do something like this on a regular basis? After all, I didn't even get into Photography, Sports, or Child Abuse awareness and advocacy, and I follow a few blogs in those areas too. ;)
A couple of interesting links that came to me from newsletters today.
first, in one of the Technolawyer newsletters, sample E-Discovery Documents from Applied Discovery. There are a handful of samples available, with a few extra available if you register with the site. If you are just starting out with e-discovery and want an idea of what questions to ask about backup tapes, or a good chain of custody log, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.
Secondly, from the September ALSP newsletter, Career Building Through Effective Networking, which if you've been reading here for very long, you know I how important I think this idea is. I like Don's ideas, including being involved not just in person, but on-line with social networking, blogs, and user groups. Some excellent advice.
Just goes to show, even with blogs and RSS feeds dominating my information flow, there's still some good stuff floating around in email newsletters too!
New Beta Friendfeed Unveils Friend lists, gets better
Friendfeed rolled out a new beta, with some new features. My favorite, and the one that really does help make Friendfeed better is Friends list. Finally, I can separate out my tech contacts from my personal contacts, or maybe the folks who write a lot about social media and tend to create a lot of extra noise can go in their own list, one that I check a bit less frequently than the list of folks I really, really want to follow on Friendfeed.
In essence, friend lists allows me to replicate my favorite feature of Google Reader, folders. Folders allows me to separate RSS feeds out by subject matter, which I can prioritize accordingly when I have limited time.
I still don't see it as a replacement for Google Reader, or any RSS reader for that matter (no full text feeds!), but it just got a little easier to filter out the noise, and that's always a plus!
I've been working on an aggregated RSS feed to keep track of what's going on at the ILTA conference next week, even though I won't be there. Right now I've got a couple of Twitter keyword searches, a Google Blog Search and the RSS feed for that official event blog. As the week starts off, I may add some other things, a Flickr tag feed for example, if folks are tagging their photos with a certain tag, or additional search terms, but for right now you can subscribe to the mashed up feed here. No matter what changes I make to the aggregate, that address will remain the same!
I'll probably leave it up for a couple of weeks, and once everyone's had a chance to return home, and recap their experiences on-line, I'll deactivate it. (Until next year??)
Also, while I'm at it, if there's anyone going to ILTA and doesn't have their own blog that wants to give us some first-hand reports, drop me an email and I'll get them posted as "guest" posts here for you!
Actually, I should title this how I spent late Saturday night, into Sunday morning, and then most of my Sunday.
I started out trying to upgrade Movable Type on the Child Abuse site. It's now running Wordpress. Yes, the upgrade went that poorly.
Having been through a few upgrades that didn't go well with movable Type, including at least 2 that ended with me reverting to the backup and the previous version, I have been through this enough to know better than to trust the upgrade process. Once i had that, I uploaded the new version over top of the existing MT install and ran the upgrade script. Only it didn't finish. I got a 403-Forbidden error somewhere in the upgrade process. The only possible explanation, according to various sites, and the MT forums, was that I didn't have rights to do something with the database. Check the credentials I was passing along to MT, nope, it has every right I can grant that account, and it's still getting blocked.
At this point, logically, I can go no further. If I have an account with full access to the DB, and I'm getting a permission-based error, there's really nowhere that I can move from here. Something in the MT upgrade process, and my hosting environment is not communicating correctly, and there's nothing at all that I can do about it.
So, I try to restore my backups and go back to what I had before, hoping that, eventually, I might find a solution.
I restore everything, and I can't login to the dashboard anymore. There's something seriously wrong with my installation now that I cannot seem to correct, no matter how many fixes I try.
Given my history of failed upgrades, I decide that maybe now's the time to revert to a Wordpress install. I've always wanted to check it out, and I'm more than ready to walk away from Movable Type now, let's see if I can get this worked out.
After much work, importing, and configuration, the new version of the site went live yesterday afternoon. In order to minimize the disruption, I actually moved the blog off the front page so I could work with it without losing that front page content, and then replaced the front page with one similar to the front page of this site. It serves as the launching off point to the various areas of the site, some of which aren't yet listed, but will be soon, I hope.
There's still a ton of work that needs to be done before I'll be happy with the site, and there are some things I don't like that I'm going to have to live with for now, like leaving the archived MT pages alone, thereby having 2 copies of all the entries up to yesterday's, in order to not break incoming links from other blogs, and the essay and front pages not matching the blog design currently. I'm sure I'll be putting in a lot of time and effort to get things how I envision it in my mind right now, but hopefully it'll be worth it in the end.
In the meantime, I'm new to Wordpress, what advice do you Wordpress experts have for me in terms of plugins, and other must-have things?
I was going over that RSS presentation I did a few weeks ago with someone who couldn't make it to the event yesterday at lunch, and an interesting question came up. I talked about how I use Del.icio.us as my shared items because it lets me use various tags, and each tag then has it's own RSS feed, which I can republish elsewhere. Currently, I use that feature to push out items tagged as tech, photography or litsupport to the various sections of my site, all in an attempt to allow folks to pick and choose what kinds of stuff they want to follow.
I noticed, however, that Google Reader does let you "tag" items, so I would think they would possibly be stored that way on your shared items site, but does anyone know if they provide a way to get separate RSS feeds for the tags, apart from the one big "shared items" feed?
I have to admit, I've never used the Shared Items feature in Google Reader, so I don't know much about it.
I also promise to get off this kick of asking questions on my own blog soon, and writing something more informative. :)
I don't get asked this often, but it's happened more than once, and it's something I want to talk about. Occasionally when someone discovers my blog, and sees how involved I am in on-line communities, they'll ask "why do you spend so much of your personal time blogging, and reading other blogs about your job? "
My answer is usually pretty simple. I do it because I want to be the best that I can at my job. That means being a sponge and gathering as much information, advice, and knowledge from as many sources as I can. Being involved in an on-line community enables me to do that on my own time.
I usually add something along the lines of "It's my career, I'm not going to sit and wait for my boss to tell me what training and knowledge to go get, and I'm certainly not going to wait for someone to approve a budget request before I start learning about a tool or technology". If I have access to mailing lists, bloggers, Google, and personal relationships (on-line or off) where I can learn more now, why wouldn't I?
Unfortunately, I find for many that either they don't look at their career that way, or the reputation of blogging and other social media tools as a "time waster" hinders their ability to access this knowledge. Either they don't know how to leverage the web tools, or increasingly, their own employer is blocking their ability to use these tools to interact and learn. That's a shame, but none of these things should stop you from taking control of your own knowledge and bettering yourself as a professional.
Look at it this way, right now there may be no need for anyone in your office to know much about graphic design. A year from now, there may be, and the organization may be looking to choose one person to pay for some additional training. If there are 2 of you under consideration, which one will they send, the guy who sat around, did his job, went home and did other things, and waited for someone to suggest he look at getting some design skills, or the woman who decided she liked the idea of design and even though it wasn't her job right now, started reading up about it, and meeting graphic designers that were willing to share information with her, and was ready to hit the ground running when the opportunity arose?
Yeah, it's an obvious choice. ;)
It's your career, are you doing something to help yourself, or waiting for someone else to do it for you?
I have a random question for the audience today. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Do you list your blog/podcast/other on-line entity as a position in your profile? Why, or why not?
Personally, I do list this blog on my profile, because it's part of my professional persona. This is the place where I can highlight what I know, and a little bit of how I work, and find solutions. This is the place you can get much more insight into me as a professional than any one or two page resume could give you, so I want it to be part of my profile when I'm doing professional networking.
On the other hand, I use other social networking services, like Facebook and Myspace mostly just as a conduit for the RSS feeds generated by writing here, or Twitter, because I want people who know me there to be able to see what I'm up to, but I don't really want to get bogged down in trying to spend a lot of time there updating my profiles. (I spend time looking at other's profiles to see what my friends are up to who only use those services, and on certain groups I belong to, so I get value even without a lot of upkeep!)
So far, that system seems to work for me, but I can't help but wonder how many people consider their blogs/podcasts to be part of their professional life, or how many try to keep them separate?
I knew it was just a matter of time. Today I saw a couple of weird referrers in my Flickr stats, a deal of the day tracker website, and a random hotel page from Expedia that I've never been to, let alone have photos of. A quick look showed me that there are, in fact, no links to any of my Flickr photos from those pages.
Much like every other referrer log, the spammers are starting to show up there too. Lovely....
OK, so obviously there are way too many microblogging services out there to keep track of (Twitter, Pownce, Identi.CA, etc.), and there are far too many social networking tools with status updates, to keep track of. I don't even try anymore to keep up with everyone everywhere. One thing that did catch my eye this weekend, however, was Ping.fm.
While it won't help you keep track of all your friends over all their many services, (Friendfeed is actually getting fairly close to useful for that for me), it will allow you to post to all the various services that you have accounts on, thus freeing your friends to follow you on their service of choice.
Who knows, maybe someone will finally get all this stuff figured out and we'll be able to follow each other without having to resort to all out microblogging tool warfare? Maybe...
By the way, if you need the beta code for Ping.fm, drop me an email.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter could probably guess that yesterday was the first Podcamp Ohio "Unconference". I haven't actually been to a podcamp before, but I've certainly heard plenty about them from following tech folks online, so I was looking forward to the chance to attend one locally.
At first, I think there was a period of "getting used" to the Podcamp ethos. Maybe it's Midwestern politeness, but I got the impression that people were generally reluctant to interrupt a presenter to share their own ideas, or throw in a comment. As the day wore on though, I saw some more examples of being getting up from one session to attend another, and more interaction. Of course, that could be just an impression I got from the sessions I was in. Following along on Twitter, I can tell that some of the other sessions may have been different.
I do like the idea of podcamp, and being able to be more interactive than you normally can be at traditional conferences, where the speakers speak, and then answer questions. On the other hand, that makes it a bit difficult to determine what a session is really going to cover. You can go to a session that promises to be a sharing of tools that are used to do audio or video, or even blogging, and wind up spending the whole session talking about hosting options and code editors. Meh! Of course, on the third hand, you can feel free to get up and leave a session like that and hit another one. (I didn't leave in this case, for reasons that will become clear later..)
Some general thoughts abut the day:
Summize was a great tool to track the Twitter conversations going on from the different sessions. I got to read some various ideas without having to be in every session and found a bunch of new local folks to follow.
The portable power strip I picked up at Fry's a few weeks ago came in handy, as the session rooms had one or two outlets each. I got to share an outlet with someone in the afternoon as the Macbook was running low on juice. (The downside, you can't really leave a session when you're powering up, let alone sharing power.)
I spent more time using Evernote yesterday than I have since I first got it, and learned something I didn't know about it before. (More in another post) Given the interactive nature of Podcamp, I did not attempt to keep notes on the blog the way I did at ABA Techshow opting, instead, to jott random things down in Evernote to think more about later. Some of which will become blog post fodder during the week, as I let my thoughts ferment a bit.
The 2-hour lunch was a great idea. I got a chance to chat with someone new in line for the taco/burrito bar, sit and catch up a bit with someone I've known for awhile, and then also get to spend some time with a group of folks I've been following on Twitter, yet hadn't met in real life. All that without having to skip out on any sessions.
On the other hand, there were a handful of folks I wanted to meet up with, who I know were there but we never seemed to be in the same room at the same time. Since I had to run before even the last "closing" session due to other plans in the evening, and obviously couldn't hang around for the after-party, I didn't get the chance to say hello to them. Perhaps next year? :)
Of course, that also bring up the point that maybe the date could have been better. This weekend is a busy one around town, with Comfest, (where I was headed last night) the Pride festival/parade, and various other events scheduled. I'm not sure how much that interfered with others plans to be at Podcamp, but I'm sure it did hurt attendance, even if just a little. That being said, you do need to do something like this in a warm weather month, you don't want folks unable to come from around the state because of snow and ice, either. Still, the event was well attended, and definitely was a good time. I'm already looking forward to doing it again, and thinking about what kinds of things I'd like to see sessions covering, even if I have to moderate it myself!
We let employees talk to customers daily - answering email, answering phone call, answering questions at exhibits, and answering letters at the office. We trust what they write on behalf of our company. We once worried in the same way about the telephone and email. Still today any of those customer conversations could be shared internationally or in a court of law.
It comes down to hiring and training employees who make good decisions.
If we trust our ability to choose the right employees and to let them know the values that we hold for our company and our customers, the question of whether we should let them blog falls away as an issue.
I couldn't agree more, and once more, this extends into the dreaded "time wasting" on the Internet as well. All employees are given a certain level of trust, to do their jobs properly, to interact with coworkers appropriately, to handle sensitive information about the organization, or it's customers ethically, all of those things require people who can make good, and proper, decisions. Yet when it comes to the Internet, apparently, all that goes right out the window.
It would be like protecting against possible sexual harassment claims by locking all employees in separate rooms and only letting members of the same sex interact with each other. At some point you have to just lay out the expectations, and trust that you've hired good people who will do the right thing, and get rid of those who cannot.
I'm somewhat lucky, I was already blogging about technology long before I started working for my current employer, and I made it a point to include links to it in my resume. I didn't want anyone to be caught by surprise about me being a blogger. It's a package deal. On the other hand, it's only been very recently that this site, and the firm I work for, have been connected in a few places. I managed to go 6 years without ever having that, until I went to the ABA Techshow as part of my job, complete with my full firm contact information, and blogged from there.
I don't begrudge that happening, it was bound to happen sooner or later, and I knew going in there was a good chance it would happen if I tried to be involved in the legal blogosphere instead of staying over on the tech side of things. It's no biggie, the domain is still under my name, I still make it pretty clear that this is my site, unrelated to the firm I happen to work for, and when I do talk about the work I do, I'm careful to make good decisions about what details I include, and which I leave out. Like I said, I've been doing this for almost 7 years now without incident when it comes to workplace problems, I'm pretty good at it.
That being said, I suppose the day will come at one future employer or another, when I have to write a formal disclaimer (or more likely, have one written for me) so that nothing I say here can be misinterpreted as representing my employer. Frankly, I think the fact that you're reading this from mikemcbrideonline.com makes it pretty clear that this is my site without a disclaimer, but you know how that goes. And when that happens, I'll wonder why it is that I can be trusted to do some very sensitive work and follow all of the legal ethics rules, but not write a few thoughts on a blog.
It's 2008, yet I'm constantly surprised how much some organizations don't think about how much we're all connected to each other, and to information. Seriously, if you feel like it's important that someone receive news from your organization directly, in a personal phone call, don't issue a press release, post it on your website, and then call with the news. There's a pretty good chance they've already seen it, and they're not going to be impressed with you.
Then, in turn, they're going to talk about how you treated them, and maybe even blog about it or post it to a social media site. They might even use the name of your organization, and that discussion could become a pretty good search result for your organization.
Now, I heard the details of this story second or third-hand, it didn't happen to me, so I'm not going to get into any specifics. But I could. If it was happening to me, and I had gotten that far in an interview process, I probably would have setup a Google News Alert or possibly used various other tools to keep track of what was going on with the organization, so I would have seen your news release somewhere long before you ever called to share the bad news, and I would be highly annoyed with you.
I guess this just goes to show that some organizations don't understand the level of communication the Internet provides. I'm sure it never occurred to anyone that the information would reach the other candidates before they could make a phone call. That level of shortsightedness when it comes to Web 2.0 communication might just come back to bite them in the butt someday too.
I am looking forward to checking out Podcamp Ohio on June 28th. Obviously, I'm pretty interested in see how the unconference works out, and meeting other folks interested in blogging/podcasting/vidcasting, since I'm giving up a perfectly good early Summer Saturday to go hang out at the ITT building. *L*
Any of my readers going to be there who haven't already talked with me about it? If so, please look me up and say hello!
So I'm scheduled to do a presentation next month to a group of fellow Litigation Support folks who are new to the idea of using RSS to keep track of the latest e-discovery blogs, and how to use other technologies like an RSS feed of "recommending reading" from those RSS feeds, or Wiki's as knowledge management, etc.
Naturally, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to explain, and I'll do plenty of showing off of the tools I use, and how I use them. But, as any good Web 2.0 techie knows, my knowledge is nothing compared to the wisdom of the crowd, so I'm looking for ideas. If you were speaking to this group, what would you want to show them? What blog/news/mailist/newsletter resources would you want to share with them? How would you like to see these sources of information filtered into your own organization, etc?
If I get enough good responses, I'll add this post to the presentation, as a great example of social media being useful!
Earlier today I opened up Friendfeed to see what people were talking about and was disgusted. So I posted this to the Friendfeed service:
Definition of an echo chamber: of 28 "things" on my Friends page, 18 are about Friendfeed and/or Twitter themselves and 4 are about Techmeme. I need to unsub from some of you people, you're boring me.
Boy did that get a whole lot of notice! As I mentioned earlier, I don't see a whole lot of value in time spent on Friendfeed, so I've been limiting myself to looking at it a few times during the day, mostly to see if there's any discussion around things I've posted anywhere that get fed over there. Typically there isn't, and I'll flip over to the "friends" tab to see what the 15 or so people I'm following are talking about. Every single time, I've seen more items talking about Friendfeed than anything else. Today, with Twitter being down, and the all too self-important bloggers planning to boycott Twitter tomorrow, the site was absolutely dominated by the echo chamber. (More than usual, but not by that much, sadly.)
See here's the thing. I just can't get all that worked up to talk about social networking tools. Whether you're a fan of Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter, etc. is irrelevant to me. I don't care which service you like and which one is more stable, and whether they pay attention to the tech bloggers who've declared themselves "early adopters". I care about what you have to say, no matter where you say it. I want to hear about and see your travels, I want to learn about what you know, what tech tricks you learned that might help me do my job better, what career tips you've picked up along the way, what movie you saw recently and how you liked it. I don't see that in Friendfeed very often. I see it in Twitter, and I see it in my RSS reader, Flickr, etc.
I'm dead tired of people just talking about social networks and Web 2.0 services who don't actually do anything interesting. I've decided I'm simply not going to put up with it any more. If you feel strongly about boycotting Twitter, or want to spends hours out of your day following and discussing the latest tech fads from Techmeme, more power to you. Myself, I just can't get worked up enough to care, let alone spend precious time arguing with people about it.
So, I'm going to make liberal use of the hide function in Friendfeed and see if I can see anything past the echo chamber, and I've already been culling my Twitter and RSS subscriptions of people who spend way more time talking about the tools instead of anything I might actually learn from.
In fact, this post is already more time than I wanted to spend talking about it.
Had coffee this morning with Brett Burney before heading into the office. It was an interesting, and far-ranging, discussion! (In fact I may have more than one blog post about things we discussed, which is always cool.)
The first thing that stood out to me was Brett telling me about some ideas he had for creating online content, but ending with the lament that he doesn't even have enough time to blog as much as he wants, let alone start new endeavors. Given recent news like Chuck and Kreg ending weekly Technorama podcasts to spend more time with family, a handful of bloggers stepping away from blogging, and even less recent history like the end of the In the Trenches podcast, it's a topic that has been on my mind quite a bit recently.
The thing is, as easy as it now is to self-publish online, whether it be writing, audio or video, doing it well takes time. Doing it really well, takes a lot of time. For those of us with regular day jobs, families, and a multitude of other responsibilities or interests, spending that time means there's less time for something else. Sometimes you can find a happy medium and manage to do some halfway decent work online, and other times you just can't. It happens to all of us.
On the flip side of that, given the demands on time outside of the online world, and then the demands of time to do what we do online, the amount of content we're willing to wade through gets less and less. Let's face it, those of us who aren't working as journalists, or pundits already work at least 40 hours a week at a job that doesn't include blogging or podcasting. (Most of us in IT work more than that.) Through in a few hours per day for family time, catching a favorite TV show or two, going to a ball game, working on some blog entries, catching up with Twitter, etc. and there's not a lot left. If you expect me to spend some of those few extra hours in my week listening or watching your podcast it had better be really good. It had better bring something to the table that makes me want to know what you're talking about.
And, of course, creating that kind of content for a large audience takes a whole lot of time. Round and round we go....
Does that mean there's no hope for those of us who do this part time? It depends. If you're looking to get rich and draw an audience and fame like Leo Laporte, there probably isn't much chance of that happening. But if you're looking to connect with a small audience of like-minding people and share information and knowledge that is of value to that community, there's most definitely hope of that.
In fact, that is really the promise of new media. Not that many of us are going to hit it big, but that many of us will be able to find our own niche communities and learn to be more effective through that involvement.
I said I would give it an honest try, even though I didn't really see the benefit. I have, and while I do see some benefits from FriendFeed, I'm just not nearly as big a fan as some others are.
Yes, the ability to comment, or "like" stuff that the people you're following in one easy place is kind of nice. Yes, seeing stuff that your connections are commenting on or liking as well as things they are posting helps you find a good blog post or Tweet that you might not normally catch. Yes, being able to have a discussion around something I merely linked to on del.ico.us is useful, and yes, I've had some good discussions and found some good ideas on there. I've even gotten a small trickle of traffic from my FriendFeed account over to the blog.
That being said, I still only follow 14 people, and haven't really seen many more that I'd be interested in following. When I was on vacation last week, and had limited time to spend online, I went to Google Reader and Twitter, not FriendFeed. I'm still utterly stunned that the same people who once claimed they would unsubscribe from any RSS feed that wasn't full posts now try to explain that they use FriendFeed, and it's headline-only feed from blog posts, as their main source of aggregation. I cannot fathom why anyone would have hundreds of subscriptions on FriendFeed, because to me, if you're trying to "follow" that many streams of information, you're not really "following" any of them.
It seems like most of the conversation I've seen around Friendfeed has to do with Friendfeed, or other social networks. As many of you probably know, I maintain a presence on many social networks, and I think there is some value to that. It certainly helps keep in touch with a variety of people, and even find some folks with similar interests. I'm not particularly interested in the business models, or the network being sold, or which one is better than the next, etc. I have a limited attention span for that type of conversation, which may be why I have a limited attention span when it comes to FriendFeed. (Aside from the constant clicking to read articles that are linked there! Oh wait, I already mentioned that...)
In other words, if being an early adopter means talking about being an early adopter constantly and doing nothing but telling everyone what great stuff you've adopted, and why it's better than what the other groups have adopted, I'd be more than happy to be considered a late adopter. ;)
Bottom line, I'll keep the account, and will probably duck in every now and again to take part in some conversation, but if you really want to get my attention, leave a comment here, or look me up Twitter. That's where I'll be more often.
This is a test of Blogger's new future date posting. If all goes well, this will get published to the site at the specified time, and I'll be sure to write up some things I've been meaning to post before we leave, that'll publish throughout the next few days. That'd be a great feature, if it works.
Interestingly, posting from Windows Live Writer still gives me the message about Blogger not supporting future date publishing, even though it does, and the post doesn't get published, it gets scheduled.
Excellent Customer Service, or Greasing the Squeaky Wheel?
One of the things I've long wondered about bloggers writing about good service from a company is whether they got that service because the company really cares about taking care of it's customers, or if they got that service because of who they are.
A fine example came about last weekend when Louis Gray wrote about his good experience with Disqus. Now Louis is a fairly well-known blogger, he's been listed on Techmeme a few times and has significantly more readers than I do. Louis was trying to do something that I had attempted to do, use Disqus on a customized Blogger template, with an FTP connection to my own domain.
At the time I attempted this, I posted a quick note to Twitter about it and Daniel Ha asked me to send my template to their help address and see if they could help. That was very responsive, and I was impressed. That was April 14. I've never gotten a response from them.
Louis, however, got a response the next morning, and then an additional tweak after asking for it "seven minutes later".
Louis chalks this up to "a great example of next-generation customer service, and engaging". I'm wondering if it's more a case of knowing how to get good PR where you can?
My point here is not to try and discredit anything Disqus or Louis is doing here, and it's not to whine about not getting the same treatment. If you read the comments over there, I'm not the only one who didn't get so much support and Louis isn't the only one with a great story of getting support from Disqus. If I do have a point, it's that as bloggers, especially A-list type bloggers, I wonder if we shouldn't take what responses we get with a grain of salt. We may get great service from an organization, and may be tempted to do what we can to help that company out and tout their product, but do we really know whether our readers would get that same service, without the bully pulpit and the same audience? Wouldn't it be only natural for someone like Daniel to spend his limited time making sure a well known blogger gets first rate service, even if that means other people get less? After all, who's going to influence more people?
A few weeks ago I mentioned that the Facebook feature for friend suggestions could use some improvements. Well, today was the first time recently that I went over to Facebook and noticed that they've made some changes to it.
They made it worse.
Now instead of suggesting people and telling you what friends you have in common, they put a larger list in three columns, and quit telling you what friends you have in common. So now, there are the same people there all the time, with no indication of why, and no way to just say "hey, I don't know this person, try again". Blech.
Update: I didn't notice until later that there is an "X" next to each suggested friend. When I hover over it, there's a message that says "don't show this person". I got excited, thinking I could actually get rid of some of these A-list tech guys that I have no interest in reading any more, let alone trying to friend them on Facebook. However, after I clicked the X for a number of them and went back to the "people you may know" list, they were right there again! Grr!
By the way, I've gotten a couple of friend requests over there from people I don't recognize, and don't have an friends in common with. If you're a reader and want to connect, I'm more than happy to, but add a message to the standard friend request, so I know who you are! Thanks!
I've been writing about technology on this blog for a long time. The first posts here date back to Oct. 2001. and while I don't claim they are very good, I will claim to have been around the tech blogosphere for a very long time relatively speaking.
Within the last year, however, as I've been writing about my work with Litigation Support, I've found myself more and more drawn to law blogs, or blawgs as they are commonly called. I'd say that the Lit Support posts here are very much part of the legal blogosphere as opposed to the tech one, but the tech posts are still part of the overall tech blogosphere.
One thing that I can say that I've been proud of over the last 6 plus years of blogging; I've never been anywhere close to an A-list blogger, and I've never gotten involved in any of the petty BS that tends to play itself out in the Tech Blogosphere every few months, at the very least. I won't point out cases, or names, those of you who've been around as long as I have can probably think of 5 examples just off the top of your head. I've been perfectly happy to sit over here in my own little corner, sharing information and ideas with other techies, instead of worrying about getting on Digg, or Techmeme, or how much my Google Ads were bring in, etc. (disclosure: I've never run ads and never made any money from this site, any money I made in Amazon Affiliate links, which was infinitesimal, was added to my own donations to child abuse support and prevention organizations.) I've enjoyed it and learned from it far more than I ever thought I would, that is reward enough in itself.
As I've moved over into paying more attention to the legal blogs though, I haven't seen any of that behavior. Given the reputation of lawyers, I actually would have expected it more, but I haven't seen much of it at all. For sure, many lawyers are blogging just to get attention, and bring in business, but I think, given the nature of legal work, and the existing ethics rules in place when it comes to offering legal advice, criticism, it keeps things on a somewhat mature level.
Maybe I just haven't been around the legal blogosphere long enough to have noticed. On the other hand, maybe there's just something about the human nature that, absent strong ethical rules, causes the lesser of our qualities to come to the forefront every now and again for a good airing? I'm not sure, but I'd be interested in a conversation about it.
OK so I found one good thing about Friendfeed, when Twitter has issues showing you all the updates from the people you follow, Friendfeed does a good job picking up the slack.
Of course when you only have 10 people you're following on Friendfeed as opposed to the 96 on Twitter, you're still missing a whole bunch of stuff. Here's hoping Twitter gets the problems figured out, sure makes the service less useful when you don't know whether your friends are updating or not! :)
Anyway, if you're following me on Twitter and and not seeing updates, keep an eye on the Friendfeed page.
So I've been thinking for awhile now about ways to increase commenting around here. Mostly because I want to hear what you guys have to say, as opposed to just having a conversation with myself. I know most of you read this in some feed reader or other, so coming here to comment requires some effort, and I want to make it easier.
That's part of the reason I setup a FriendFeed, because it sets up an easy way for people to comment on things I'm sharing, albeit on their site instead of here, but still a conversation is a conversation, even if it's not hosted here.
Another piece I want to try out is Disqus, which again, allows me to setup an easy place for people to comment, only this time it integrates with the site, and if it works, should give me some other options. This post is my first attempt at seeing how well this works, if at all. We'll see what happens!
Update: Apparently, it's fudged, am trying to figure it out now.
I'm still not in favor of any service that takes a full post feed and turns it into a headline one, but I wanted to conduct my own little experiment with what the service looks like from a user perspective, because obviously it's become a huge hit with many in the blogging world. Part of me just wants to see if there's something that I'm missing when I look at it. So, I created a feed and subscribed to a couple of folks over there. Maybe using it for a few days will change my mind. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.
Anyway, if your one of the Friendfeed users, here's my feed:
I've been randomly taking a look at Facebook's "People you may know" feature over the last week or however long it's been available. It occurs to me today that this feature is actually a perfect example of the limits of the "friend" definition on Facebook and other social networking services.
Here's an example. I have some friends on Facebook, and also MySpace, who I only know through one of my websites. For the sake of example, let's look at my fellow Friends in Tech members, very few of whom I've met, and who live in pretty diverse geographical areas. Between all of us, we're spread pretty much all over the country, but we also interact fairly regularly online and are friends in that sense, so many of the FiT members are also connected on social networks like Facebook. That's to be expected.
The problem comes in when you consider that to Facebook, any friend is a friend in the same sense. It pulls the "people you may know" group from your friend's contacts. Just because they know someone who I also know, doesn't mean I know them, and in the Internet age, where I'm interacting with folks from all over the world, let alone the US, the chances that they have many, many friends that I know nothing at all about, increases dramatically.
I've got people on my friends lists who I've worked with in the past or people who my wife works with, who are mostly local to us. I've got people on my lists who are regular readers of this blog, and people who are regular readers of my child abuse blog. I have folks I met at a legal conference, and people I've known from my years in IT. Do you think those groups of people would know each other just by virtue of knowing me? I may be a link between them, but I'm a tenuous link at best.
Wouldn't it be better if we could better define our friends and this matching feature actually took that data into account when suggesting people we might know? Instead of being presented with a list of people who are local to someone I only know online, wouldn't it be better to see only the other online friends that person has, and vice versa for people I know and see in real life on a regular basis?
I think that'd be a whole lot more useful than what I'm seeing at Facebook right now, and I'm hopeful that someone over there will take a really hard look at using the Friend List feature, and someone at Myspace is taking a long look at using the friend groups feature to help push this further along that path. Is anyone listening?
Now, I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to get you guys to comment more. asking for Mac helps seems to work pretty well. :)
Seriously, I know the vast majority of you are reading this in a feed reader, and not on the site itself, so it's unlikely you're going to do more than scan it and move on to your next item. The challenge is to find a way to get you more involved. I've got some ideas, and some things I'm working on, so we'll see how it works out. It's an ongoing experiment that's for sure, but if you have some suggestions, I'm always open to hearing them!
I've seen numerous people talk about using FriendFeed of late, a few who even talked about using it instead of an RSS aggregator because you can put everything you're doing online in one feed and give it to people who really want to know what you're doing that much.
Tonight, I took a quick look at it and I seriously don't see the point. First off, do you really want to follow every single thing I do online? Yeah, didn't think so.
Second, and more importantly, why the heck would I take my full post blog feed and push it into a Friendfeed where it gets pushed out to you, the subscriber, as the title only? How is that more useful to you? (Is it possible that I'm missing something here? I put the feed for this blog in and got only titles out!)
Here's an idea, there are any number of feeds available to you if you want to follow what I'm up to, how about if you take those feeds, in their full length, and use a service like Yahoo Pipes, or xFruits to mix and match the ones you want to follow, instead of having me decide for you, and getting a crappy title only feed that you'll probably quit reading within a few months anyway?
Here's a start, take what you want and have a good time:
If you need more, check the right side of the blog template for even more places I am online. Again, take what you want, mix and match how you like, don't wait for me to make a feed for you. This is 2008 people, don't let some service like Friendfeed tell you how you should follow people!