Monday, August 20, 2007

ILTA Conference Report, Session KM3; How Wikis, Blogs and Discussion Forums Relate to KM in the Legal Field

Dennis Kennedy quoted Jack Vinson's new definition of "How people are using technology, information and one another to get work done (or solve problems)." Also quoted David Snowden's 3 KM Rules.

  1. Knowledge can only be volunteered, it cannot be conscripted.
  2. We know more than we can say and we can say more than we can write.
  3. We only know what we know when we need to know it.

He also highlighted three aspects of Web 2.0 features:

  • Lightweight Content Management
  • Collaborative
  • Capture Conversations
Blogs have:

  • individual posts
  • reverse chronological entires
  • RSS feeds
  • archives
  • comments
Dennis thinks about these tools in terms of the unit of communication and its response:

Tool Unit Response

Blog Post Comment
Wiki Article Edit
Discussion Board Topic Reply

Kevin O'Keefe--founder of LexBlog, leading provider of marketing blogs. His blog is "Real Lawyers Have Blogs." He spoke very quickly.

A blog is like an on-line discussion that creates a community. It can help you make in-roads into different groups you want to know.

You can start by finding blogs through Google,,

Should have feeds that provide blog entries on your name, the firm, clients, and relevant legal topics (such as angioplasty or bank trademarks). These feeds help drive conversations.


The AMlaw 100 firms have 73 Blogs. 55 blogs from AMLAW 200 are firm-branded. Some firms have many firm-branded blogs. Fox Rothschild alone has 10+ blogs,

Blogs are fun, so getting content out of lawyers is not difficult. "The best lawyers are getting into this now." Blogging increases the lawyers' own knowledge and expertise, through the comments and the research necessary to maintain accuracy in the posts.

Later Dennis discussed choosing particular Web 2.0 tools.

Wikis tend to be a little bit harder to start to use. Some choices are Mediawiki (wikipedia's base), Instawiki, PBWiki, Drupal, SocialText (ST is the big one for business), Sharepoint. Wiki makes sense where you are building a body of work that everybody should be able to edit. SocialText has some plugins to Sharepoint.

Blogs are easier because you don't have to learn HTML. You also get quick gratification from comments. Choices are WordPress, Movable Type (can be installed internally), Roller (IBM)

There are also custom options, including hosted and free software.

Costs are very small, close to free in terms of software. People should look out for open source software issue. Very popular internal blogs have been created for no software cost. "I'd rather take a chance on spending $0 than half a million when trying to explain two years later why there's no content in there."

Is it a repository of expertese? (wiki)
Do you want to publish information to other people? (blog)
Do you have a culture where people will respond to each other? (message boards)

Can you pull an RSS feed into a blog?
Can you pull information from a blog or RSS feed into a wiki?
Will there be business applications on top of Youtube

People will be careful about what they say because the feedback is instantaneous.

"People can become stars within their firm [through blogging.]"

Gloria Fox

Gloria Fox has spent 17 years in Knowledge Transfer. Per a comment she posted to an earlier version of this entry (thanks Gloria!), she is at Blank Rome as Knowledge Manager. The library there is a part of the KM team and has set up its blogs and wikis. Gloria works on the people part, addressing the culture and finding inroads and ways to create positive change.

The main advantages of wikis and blogs are interactivity and how easy it is to add content.

The goal is to harness the collective intelligence of a firm. Wikis and blogs and harness and leverage the "networking effect" for firm benefit.

Individual bloggers build relationships with other knowledge brokers and can become known as experts.

Blank Rome's Expertise Directory can hold visuals as well as narratives.

Top Down or Bottom-Up

Any firm platform needs official blessing.

You want opportunity to build a culture of collaboration. At Blank Rome, she created a library wiki, complete with information for summer interns.

What's In it for me?

Attorneys spend excess time at meetings discussing simple logistics, such as what case is going to trial or who is going to a conference. Attorneys could move more quickly to the more interesting collaborative work if they just posted such information on a blog.

Best Practices

Identify business objectives for blogs; pick a group that might be open to using wikis or blogs. Some will fail. Start small with enthusiastic and committed groups and make Web 2.0 champions.

Lisa Kellar Gianakos*

Lisa moderated the panel discussion. She also said that she will be moving some practice guides to wiki format. Think of low-hanging fruit (law fruit?). Take practice guides and let people run with them, making edits. Wikis work very well for project management, and also for basic information about onboarding.

It's better to have wiki or blog where it's almost all right than to have perfectly crafted annotations. There's a lot of value in quickly getting to 90%.

*name spelled correctly after an embarrasingly long time.


Kevin OKeefe said...

David, you're right, I did speak much too quickly. Trying to cram too many points into my alloted 10 minutes was a mistake - should have just pick a point or two and addressed that slowly.

Unknown said...

Wow! What a great set of notes on our session! I enjoyed getting to meet you. Too bad the audience didn't get to to hear the continuing conversation Gloria, Kevin and I had after the session. That was really great.

Gloria said...

Thanks for taking such great notes...just want to say that the Library is a part of the KM Team and I as a Knowledge Manager get the privilege of working with them. They in fact set up our blogs and wikis, could not manage without their expertise. I get to do the people part which addresses the culture and finding inroads and ways to create positive change.