Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Social Connectivity and Business

Clay Shirkey, author of Here Comes Everybody, recently posted on what social connectivity "means" for business. He suggested that some major changes have already started to occur, giving as one example the ability of a heretofore disorganized group of individuals (airline passengers) to get their act together through blogs and other participant-based internet activity and successfully lobby for the Passenger's Bill of Rights, in opposition to the airline industry. (Clay did not identify this law, which is a New York state law, N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law s 251-H, Article 14-A, giving airline passengers rights such as food and water, recently unsuccessfully challenged in the Northern District of New York.).

In the legal arena, clients could organize in similar fashion. Many individual clients of a law firm might have insufficient interest and desire to organize. I imagine, however, that corporate and institutional clients in many cases have sufficient social-networking awareness and wherewithal to organize around issues of common interest.

Indeed, some such organization is already starting. According to David Jabbari, a "Know-How" leader* at Allen & Overy, as reported here, some of the big banks in Europe joined forces and required their firms to publish their client alerts on a single Banking Legal Technology web site, without charge to the clients. In this case the banking industry's will to cooperate may have been there already, but the technology was only recently able to meet that objective.

Legal On-Ramp's corporate counsel section is another example. The idea is that some law firms would provide some good current content "free" in return for greater visibility with clients. More explicitly, OnRamp marketplace allows clients to "place matters anonymously to evaluate lower-cost alternatives for legal services."

*just call it KM already!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What a feed reader can do for you

A Google engineer has posted on the many sources of news and information that can be tracked using Google Reader (or any other RSS feed reader, for that matter.) The list ranges from classified ads of a particular type (say, apartments in Brookline under $1500 /month) to weather to finance and news reports, to saved searches.

The list is far from exhaustive, and I think more and more information, litigation-related and otherwise, is going to be "subscribable" like this list. For instance, in two minutes I just set up this search for Patent Litigation in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts through Justia.com. The results page had this RSS feed result. This is close to a direct feed from PACER, the federal courts electronic filing information system.

For enterprises, it will be increasingly the case that RSS will be the method of sharing and keeping track of content. Because it is inherently flexible and allows for the addition of faceted information like tags and practice areas, it can be particularized to the internal needs of the firm. Sharepoint 2007 has taken advantage of this power by having RSS feeds available from any page, list, wiki, blog, or other content repository. Too bad the Sharepoint 2007 is completely inadequate.

I noticed today that the Google Reader in particular has a useful "Discover" feeds tool, located right next to the "Add subscription" button.

It apparently compares the types of content that I regularly follow and finds other feeds (mostly blogs) that match that same type of content. The number of Google Reader subscribers is listed so hopefully I can tell if a feed is completely bogus. I found KM leader Tom Davenport's blog that way, and I re-found contrarian and search consultant Stephen Arnold's blog, Beyond Search, which started in January 2008 without an RSS feed.

I recall hearing Stephen's entertaining and informative closing remarks at the 2007 Enterprise Search Summit in New York (just before I began to live-blog), and also posted on the Enterprise 2.0 discussion that Anrew McAfee and Tom Davenport had this past fall. I'm glad to find out another source of information on them. Thanks Google.

As a side note, like many people, I have saved searches for my own name feeding into a reader and also an email alert. It turns out there's another David Hobbie who works for the Army Corps of Engineers in Florida, and who I suspect has more control over the water levels in Florida's swamps than any other single individual in the country. There also is another one, a business student who works for Thomson Financial. Watch out world--me and my doppelgangers are taking over!