Friday, 4 December 2009

ECM: Governance, Implementation and More – Chris Donohue, Alpha Knowledge

The last NSW KM Roundtable event for the year was held this week. The theme for the day was information and governance - a topic I am currently quite interested in. Here's a writeup of one of the presentations on Governance and Enterprise Content Management.

Chris Donohue of Alpha Knowledge has had a long and varied career in both corporate governance and KM, which means he is well qualified to speak on the challenges of implementing a content management system that allows sharing while ensuring that there is a consistent approach to the governance of critical information.

It’s also fair to say that a number of KM Roundtable members pricked up their ears when Chris indicated that most of the ECMs he has implemented are based on – you guessed it – Sharepoint.

Before he launched into his case study, Chris made a couple of pithy observations:

  • We spend 90% of the time managing 10% of information that needs to be secure
  • Why copy and paste documents, emails and images when you can streamline a process?
  • Part of the info management challenge is identifying what “quality information” is.

Case Study: Information Mismanagement

There’s this alarmingly common assumption that the implementation of a shiny new piece of software (in this case Sharepoint) will instantly fix all of the challenges an organisation might have with managing their documents and content. But, as the subject of Chris’s case study found out, just tossing documents into Sharepoint because the CEO has decreed “make it so!” really doesn’t work.

Enter Chris. His mandate was to establish a governance structure that would turn their Sharepoint site from a mess into a well-ordered and efficient platform for managing content and sharing information.


Here’s some of the elements that helped them to achieve an effective Sharepoint implementation:

  • The information architecture was carefully designed and kept CONSISTENT across the team sites
  • A governance and security framework was also clearly defined
  • Any content that had not been used in more than a year was not not migrated
  • The implementation team got buy in and collective consensus from the company (it helps if the CEO is a fan of the project!)
  • Phased process – it doesn’t have to happen all at once
  • Communication was critical
  • Change managed proactively

Information Architecture

Chris then discussed the Information Architecture of the site. It was broken into 3 types of repositories:

  1. Personal Knowledge
    - folders/personal data
    - emails
    - IMs

    which feeds into
  2. Group Knowledge
    - meetings
    - Network data
    - Intranets
    - hard form docs

    which feeds into
  3. Business Intelligence
    - data warehousing
    - data mining
    - KPI tracking
    - Reporting

The Governance Framework

Some issues that had to be considered when creating structures for information sharing were:

  • Chinese Walls (where departments/business units are in competition and can’t share info)
  • Privacy (information that should only be available to HR etc)
  • Hierarchy (cascading information accessibility appropriately)
  • Compliance (ensuring appropriate and secure management of information required for audit and disclosure)

Most of these issues were dealt with by developing a generic security matrix. Sharepoint allows administrators to establish security groups. In this case they were set up by function:

  • Group 1 – exec
  • Group 2 – projects
  • Group 3 – Operations
  • Group 4 – HR

Implementation and Change Management

Training consisted of “Pretraining an post-training”

  • pretraining grouped by IT proficiency. Pretraining also provides the opportunity to test the usability of the site and make adjustments before going live.
  • post training – refresher courses
  • flick the switch! At some point old systems and repositories need to be shut down to avoid duplication of content OR worse, the ongoing problem of content scattered across multiple systems.

Monitoring and Updating – facilitating governance of content

  • Assigned owners to content, automated update reminders were set in Sharepoint to prompt review of content by the owners
    -> great for policies and procedures.
  • Need to have an overall coordinator monitoring the content owners

An overall view of the process:

Analyse –> redesign architecture –> plan –> implement –> maintenance

The value of the who project was clearly demonstrated when the business went into a merger and were able to create a data warehouse of all the information in just a few days.

Thanks Chris for a solid and interesting presentation.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Instant Messaging: an "elegant solution" for general practices

My family lives in rural NSW, where there is a chronic doctor shortage and it can be difficult to recruit new practitioners. So I really loved the story my mum told me about her most recent trip to the doctor. She wasn't able to get an appointment with her regular doc, and saw a new doctor who hadn't been practicing very long. This doctor wasn't sure about the correct prescription for my Mother's condition. But instead of spending time surfing around medical databases, or knocking on the door of the doctor next door, she sent an Instant Message. Within seconds she had the name of the appropriate medication - from two different doctors.

This practice probably has 5 or 6 doctors and probably hasn't even heard of "Enterprise 2.0" - but by using a free application such as MSN they have been able to dramatically increase the sense of presence and support they can provide this new doctor. She can confidently request assistance from her colleagues while knowing that it won't significantly impact the time required by her patient - or theirs (especially as they can choose not to respond). It would be interesting to know if this will consequently increase the likelihood of this practice retaining their new recruit - which would definitely be a plus for the rural community.

Some might consider Instant Messaging to be a relatively "old" form of social media - but there are still so many ways it can be used innovatively to solve basic problems and increase efficiency. It's great that small businesses are realising this as well.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Legal Professionals and Web 2.0 - ALLA presentation

I have loaded a copy of my conference presentation up to Slideshare - there are notes for relevant slides too.

You can also read the full paper (yes I actually submitted an article - it was like being back at uni!) on the ALLA conference site. A number of the papers and presentations are now available - I'll let you know my favourites over the next week or so.

ALLA sidetrip - Kakadu!

I haven't posted any of my notes from the ALLA conference because I am still recovering from the holiday to Kakadu that I took on the side! If you're a fan of birds, crocodiles, aboriginal rock art or sunsets you might like to have a look at my pics on flickr. I'll blog about some of the most interesting papers here or on CCHatter over the next week.

Yellow waters sunset 3

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

On my way to ALLA

I’m sitting at the airport about to board a plane to Darwin for the Australian Law Librarian’s Association conference.  I’m super excited about the conference this year – the theme is evolution and many of the papers explore how legal research has changed and is changing. 

I will be giving a presentation that draws on the findings of the CCH “Professionals and Web 2.0” whitepaper and explores what Web 2.0 means for the creation and dissemination of information – and what THAT means for information providers such as CCH!  I will put the presentation up on Slideshare next week.  In the meantime you might like to check out these two posts on – they are based on some material that didn’t quite make it to the final draft of the paper.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Lawyers and Web 2.0: what are the implications?

Today I started work on my paper for the ALLA Evolution Conference. The topic is Professionals and Web 2.0, and will to some extent be a presentation of the results from our Professionals and Web 2.0 whitepaper. But I also want to dig into the implications of Web 2.0 for legal research, current awareness, publishing, and libraries.

For example, the Canadian law blog Slaw won the 2009 Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing, presented by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries. It is considered to be a legitimate source of "high quality materials for use in understanding and researching the law." Yes, a Web 2.0 resource has just been lauded as a high-quality publisher in the league of Insight Press, CanLII, and Canada Law Book (just a few of the previous winners). But how do you go about evaluating web 2.0 sources and differentiating them from each other? What differentiates Slaw from Wikipedia? Yes I know this is somewhat obvious but what specific factors make you trust it more?

I would love to hear your thoughts about how you use web 2.0 sources and the implications this has for:

  • legal and general research, including evaluating sources
  • news and current awareness
  • the legal publishing industry
  • law libraries and KM
I'll be incorporating any insights proferred into my paper. You can tweet me or post longer observations as comments on this blog - I'll be posting on these topics over the next month or so as I put the paper together.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Who are you and why should I buy from you?

Just found this fantastic presentation from the Business Marketing Associations' "Unlearn" conference. A fantastic illustration of how markets and technologies change but the fundamentals of the business relationship don't.

I found a link to it on one of my favourite blogs, WebInkNow. I also noted that the author of WebInkNow, David Meerman Scott, is coming to Sydney and Melbourne in September. Here's the tag for his course: "Instead of explaining what Social Media is, David specialises in showing Marketing and PR experts exactly how to use it."

Now if only I could justify another training course LOL!

Oh well, there seems to be a blog specifically for the Australian masterclasses with Australian examples, so I'll have to get stuck into reading that instead.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Bookmarking tools for private communities

I've been on the lookout for a tool or site that would allow a private community to share links and discussions. There has been a real need for this among a group at work, as we explore innovative ideas and resources. At the moment we all use different tactics - I use Delicious, there is a share drive folder (ugh), and of course there's the ubiquitous link in an email.

Here are a few tools I've considered over the past year, I would love to hear any other suggestions.

I've been using Delicious as a personal bookmarking tool for over a year now (click here to see my collection). It has some great features:

  • Integrates with your favourites in Firefox or Flock browsers - if you add to your browser favourites you can also publish it to your Delicious account. You can also set up a button in your links bar that will publish a site directly to Delicious
  • Also offers web-based posting of links for when you are unable to access a buttonbar plugin
  • Fantastic predictive tagging facilities based on your existing personal tags and how other people have tagged it.
  • Great search and sort facilities - eg you can browse one tag (such as web2.0) and then refine the list with an extra tag such as "twitter"
  • Public access - share the links you've tagged eg "web2.0" with other people
  • RSS feeds for your account or for a particular tag - so people can automatically receive notifications of any sites you've tagged eg "Web2.0".
However, Delicious falls down a bit when it comes to creating a community for sharing links.
  • it lacks privacy settings which limits its use as a potential business tool for security reasons
  • there is no group function (although an individual can create a network of other individuals). This defeats the concept of a collective library of tags and sites, as they can only be added to an individual's account. Also, I would like to have the facility to add and remove eg team members as they come and go.
Ning allows for the creation of a private or public community. Have a look at this Library 2.0 community to get a feel for it. The individual community can set up a huge variety of features:
  • Welcome page
  • Personal profile page
  • Forums
  • Blog aggregators
  • Post links
  • Post videos and images
  • Chat
  • And more
Ning is a fantastic tool for creating a community site, but it's not really a bookmarking tool. While it allows you to share links and bookmarks, there is no way to organise and sift through them.

I came across this yesterday so I'm still exploring it. However it's looking pretty good:
  • Both a personal bookmarking tool and a group tool
  • Adds a toolbar to IE, Firefox and Flock for quick bookmarking or post directly to the website
  • Allows you to highlight and annotate sections of a website that you bookmark
  • search for a particular tag or view a tag cloud (I don't feel this is quite as functional as Delicious)
  • Create private or public communities
  • Administrator can easily add and remove users
Microsoft Sharepoint
Sharepoint has the advantage of sitting directly behind the firewall, however it lacks the "plug and play" functionality of eg Diigo which is so easy to set up. It also sits outside of the workflow - while both Delicious and Diigo allow you to click a button in your toolbar to bookmark a site, I suspect you would have to do the good old cut-and-paste to add to a list of links in Sharepoint. Also, Sharepoint out-of-the-box functionality is not maximised for easy web 2.0-style browsing and searching - no tag clouds, and essentially no easy way to tag in the first place. It would require extensive modification to make it as friendly as online sites - which means involving IT or developers, and that of course means it's no longer a "lightweight" solution.

I'll be playing with Diigo over the next few weeks and will update you on how it goes. I suspect the main barrier will be whether our firewall allows sufficient access.

Thursday, 28 May 2009


I'm a little behind with my blogging because much of my attention has been focused on a new work venture, namely our very own "official" CCH Australia blog CCHatter. We launched rather quietly last week and I think we are still in the process of finding our "voice". Currently the blog is authored by Jessica Hobson (New Business Initiatives Director) and myself, although we hope some more passionate bloggers will emerge from the woodwork. It is also part of a very exciting new partnership with Practice Source who are hosting a feed to the blog on their site.

The blog has been a very practical introduction to social media strategy and policy. We've had to ask ourselves: why are we doing this? Is it ok to talk about x? What about y? What would our comms person think about that?

At the moment we are still feeling our way through this, starting with reviewing our existing communications policies to see if they stretch enough to encompass social media channels. We are also quite keen on the idea of a set of guidelines (such as the Intel social media guidelines) that will enable rather than restrict potential communicators.

Back to "why are we doing this?" Innovation and customer focus are buzz word around Wolters Kluwer and CCH at the moment, and social media is a perfect forum to explore both. We will be listening to our customers who are already engaged online, and asking questions, debating issues and (hopefully!) proposing the odd solution. It's not going to be a "new product" blog; it will be more about the future of professional publishing and how we can move in that direction.

This blog is a first toe in the waters of social media for Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific, and I am optimistic that it is the starting point for developing a culture within the company of listening and engaging online. Head on over and have a look; and be patient with us as we establish that "voice"!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

News online - a "crisis of intellectual property"?

A study by PwC that has been reported in The Australian seems to bear out what I and many others have been saying:

A GLOBAL survey has found that readers could be willing to pay almost as much for some high-quality online newspapers as they do for print versions, particularly in specialist news areas.

The study of 4900 respondents in the US and Europe by accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers has found sport and business to be the areas in which consumers are most ready to pay for content.

This bears out the findings of CCH's "Professionals and Web 2.0" whitepaper, namely that people still expect to pay for quality content when it affects their business or professional decisions. Don't ask me why sport is the other special area, I have no interest in that particular topic!

Of course, there is a proviso to this assertion:

The survey said consumers would be willing to pay 97 per cent of the purchase price of a traditional newspaper for online business content, provided there were no free online products of equal quality on the market.

Providers of business and B2B information have been far more cautious in releasing free content, plus only a handful of providers have the capacity to research and verify the information. Small wonder then that this "specialist" area is considered of high enough value to purchase content, as opposed to standard news which as I pointed out in my previous post can now often be harvested from the eyewitnesses themselves.

I think have nailed the whole situation on the head with this pithy observation:

...what is happening is not the death of newsprint, but an effective crisis of mass intellectual property and copyright.

Again - what areas of information are worth investing time, IP and money? Selecting the wrong field or channel for journalistic or publishing efforts could mean saying goodbye to any kind of return on your work.

Monday, 4 May 2009

The exponential decline of newspapers

The New York times has announced its intention to shut down the Boston Globe. The decline of traditional newspapers - and the attention given to it - has escalated rapidly over the past few months, thanks to declining advertising revenue and the ubiquitous Global Financial Crisis. Australia is fairly protected from the current drama - but the reality is that the GFC has only accelerated the inevitable.

For the past decade news online has been free. This was not a problem when it was merely a supplement to print and broadcast news. But suddenly the internet is the predominant medium, and some very upset media providers are struggling to jam the cat back into the bag. According to the New York Times, possible solutions the AP is investigating are:

"to make sure that the top search engine results for news are “the original source or the most authoritative source,” not a site that copied or paraphrased the work.

The A.P. will also pursue sites that reproduce large parts of articles, rather than using brief links, and it is developing a system to track articles online and determine whether they were used legally."

I think both of these strategies are reasonably fair, as far as they go. But the reality is that an increasing quantity of news is now made available by the people who are there to witness it - on twitter, flickr, even Wikipedia updates. Yes, there is still value in quality investigative journalism - this is hard to replace. But the people who distribute this journalism need to rethink their target audiences and how they can reach them effectively. Thanks to the internet, there is no need for newspapers to be all things to all readers. There's no need to create new content to a topic when you can link to the equivalent.

Jeff Jarvis wrote a passionate and articulate response to the increasingly shrill cries of traditional media, entitled "The "speech the NAA should hear". I highly recommend it and am slowly plowing my way through the copious comments underneath it. Lots of gems of wisdom, although everyone is still struggling to answer the same question - how do we reinvent the media business model so that it is still high quality and sustainable?

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The decline of the Encyclopedia: a timely object lesson?

The demise of Microsoft's Encyclopedia Encarta has unsurprisingly kicked off another round of agitated discussion about the future of traditional publishing. Neerav, a fellow librarian/social media geek, has been doing some muck-raking of his own to encourage some meaningful dialogue on the topic. He recalls an early experiment by Britannica which, if it had been continued, might have made it the default "Wikipedia":

As Mark Pesce describes in his talk The Alexandrine dilemma, Britannica online was a subscription-based reference site for 5 years until 19th October 1999 when “the online version of Britannica containing the complete unexpurgated content of the many-volume print edition was unlocked and made freely available, at no cost to its users”.

For the next few months Britannica Online became one of the most popular sites on the internet but in the face of having to service this traffic via more and more servers and escalating data transfer costs management decided to retreat into their shell, putting the content behind a paywall and charging a $7/month subscription fee. Traffic soon plummeted to previous low levels.

.......The issues they faced were not new: all online publishers have struggled to find out how they can turn high-quality content into a money-making business where profits are greater than costs.

Shifting back to a subscription model reflected a natural conservative urge by management to avoid relying on fickle online advertising income but in the end it was also Britannica’s downfall...

Talk about 20/20 vision in hindsight!

There is a reason news and general reference have been the early fatalities in the war of free vs subscription publishing. The fact that this kind of information is available in so many forms (such as the same news article being reproduced by dozens of news sources) reduces its value as a commodity. Likewise, general reference is the reproduction of (relatively) common knowledge and thus lends itself very well to being written by "the crowds".

Publishers would do well to examine their content and identify what elements are unique and what is freely available. For example, is there enduring value in providing subscriptions to court cases and legislation? Probably not when the same content is freely available on government and LII websites. BUT providing professional commentary and research tools for the same is unique to publishers and their highly qualified authors and editors. It requires time and skill and a much higher level of knowledge and analysis than your average Wikipedia article. This is not easily or freely reproduced; this is a commodity with high value. This is what publishers should be focusing their resources on.

Likewise publishers should be engaging more closely with their clients to identify what is high value to them. What do they truly seek when they turn to us? What do they see as our core offering? How do we provide it so that there is mutual satisfaction that the cost of the product (both to produce it and to purchase it) equals its perceived value?

I strongly believe that publishers (and librarians) will continue to have a role to play as stewards and promoters of unique and high quality content. But we need to listen very carefully to clients and to the general market in order to understand exactly what that content should be.

Friday, 17 April 2009

New Google features mimic professional research platforms

One of the features I have always loved about ProQuest and various other research databases is the way they recommend alternative or refined searches based on your original search. For example, the results page for a Proquest search on Knowledge Management offers around 15 suggestions for refining your search, starting with “Knowledge management AND” Organizational learning” and ending with “Knowledge AND Management development”. Similarly, if you conduct a search on the soon-to-be launched CCH IntelliConnect platform, you have the option to refine your search by options such as format or practice area.

This is very comforting when you first launch into a topic and aren’t 100% sure about your keywords. It’s also useful if you’re a touch compulsive (like me) and want to make sure you have every possible relevant article on the topic at hand. In my university days I would spend hours surfing the recommended search terms and additional subject headings on Proquest or the library catalogue.

Now Google have introduced a similar feature on their standard search. At the bottom of the search results page for “Knowledge Management” there is a collection of “Searches related to Knowledge Management”, including “knowledge management articles”, “knowledge management definition” and “information management”. These appear rather basic but as you drill down into a topic they seem to grow increasingly sophisticated.

Unlike research databases and library catalogues, Google’s related searches are algorithm-driven rather than manually indexed. If or when these algorithms will match the quality and sophistication of human indexing is a very interesting question.

In the meantime, the Google related search is a great feature to point out to less experienced searchers who aren’t sure whether their keywords are really relevant. Plus it’s a great way to wander through a topic area – just like browsing in the library.

Monday, 30 March 2009

The Commonwealth Bank wins the Twitter PR game

It's funny that I keep posting about Twitter, as I actually think it's hopelessly over-hyped. But I couldn't resist this story about an unhappy customer's tweet and CBA's rapid response:

"A TWO-line Twitter post pushed my mortgage application from the Commonwealth Bank's "to do" list to an urgent priority.

The post said simply: "CBA f#$&ked up our loan approval so we're still waiting to exchange contracts". One hour and 17 minutes after it went live I was contacted by someone offering help to solve my problem. That person was the head of Commonwealth Bank's customer service team.

He told me the message made him "feel like crap" and the bank was only just beginning to understand how crucial social media sites were in maintaining the corporate giant's image. By 3pm the next day, my loan was formally approved."

One person who responded couldn't understand how complaints on social media carry more weight than a complaint by phone. The reason is simple. A phone complaint is witnessed only by the customer and the corporation - and perhaps a few friends of the customer. But a complaint on twitter, or a blog, or any form of social media might be read by hundreds of people, if not more. As will their favourable review if the corporation moves to fix the problem rapidly. And THAT (to be cynical) is why the CBA moved so quickly on this incident.

When corporations respond rapidly and sincerely to bad PR on social media the effect is incredible. Suddenly bad PR is converted to "wow, look how responsive and switched on this organisation is". Of course, this effect may only last as long as social media is "cool" and "new". It may not be such an unusual thing in a year or two.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

New Think for Old Publishing: Tweeting audience 1, publishers 0

There has been a great kerfuffle about the "New Think for Old Publishers" panel held at the South By Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texis. This conference sounds fantastic, revolving around new and interactive media (I'm downloading me some podcasts from it as we speak). The panel in question was promoted as traditional publishers sharing new ideas for interactivity. But it turned into a tedious half hour of introductions followed by "now YOU tell us your new ideas for our industry".

Little did they realise that they had completely lost the audience....and that all the action in the room was happening on Twitter. I love how Michael Tobis put it:

"...almost everybody in the audience was on a pre-announced twitter channel #sxswbp. And by the time anybody in the crowd got to ask anything, most of the crowd was in a very collective and connected foul mood."

I love that twitter (and subsequent blog posts) were able to give this audience a voice (and believe me, they had plenty to say - just check out the pages and pages of chatter on the twitter stream #sxswbp). After all, many of them are bloggers and essentially moved on to the new publishing model that traditional publishers are still wrapping their heads around. I highly recommend reading some of the posts from audience members, including "New Think? Not so much" by Kassia Kroszer and "Really New Think for Old Publishers" by William F. Aicher. I'll leave you with a quote from his blog as food for thought.

The ultimate “New Think” for the publishing industry that I’ve been pushing both in book publishing, as well as in the music publishing industry is to change the mindset that publishers are in charge and the customers should trust them. Instead, publishers need to stop trying to be tastemakers and instead realize that they are ultimately administrators of extraordinarily valuable copyright-protected content that they can build a brand around. Find content or creators that already have a following (and sometimes take risks on ones that have a potential to be big), cultivate those creators and their content with your professional editing staff and then get the content out to people.

William F. Aicher, "Really New Think for Old Publishers"

Powerful stuff!

Thanks to Heidi Allen for the heads up on this topic...she is quite rightly furious that publishers emerged from this looking like they have nothing to offer in the world of new media. And we we do have new ideas and innovative plans to interact with this world...check out what Henri van Engelen has to say on Wolters Kluwer and Next Generation publishing. However, I think this event (along with other situations) clearly indicates that publishers do need to be more savvy about how they engage with the new media community.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Electronic Document Managment is all I thought about this week

I'm a little late posting this week, and I'm going to shamelessly play the pity card. I injured my lower back which makes it uncomfortable to sit/stand/lie down/do anything!

That said, I actually had quite a busy week at work, and it was all about Electronic Document Management (EDM). First of all, a large chunk of my time was spent uploading and indexing a collection of resources into a Sharepoint document library. There is something incredibly satisfying in being able to populate 8 different fields with info on the one document, instead of trying to cram everything into a single file name on your share drive.

So I'm creating all this beautiful metadata, but the Sharepoint basic search is pretty much ignoring it when it comes to returning and ranking search results. (Makes me want to tear my hair out!) We are now investigating appropriate search plugins to rectify this situation. Does anybody know of a good Google-style search plugin that works with both document full text and assigned metadata? Much obliged!

I also had a wonderful "lightbulb" moment this week. We have commenced work on the next whitepaper, which is going to be all about accountants and the paperless office. Now this was troubling me for two reasons:
1) I don't know all that much about accountants despite them being the majority of our customers (!)
2) The term Paperless Office sends me straight back to the '90s and seems incredibly passe.

Then the whitepaper team sat in on a presentation regarding CCH Prosystems fx, our document management and workflow software for small to medium accounting firms. And I realised that it doesn't matter what your profession is, being "paperless" in the 2000s means Electronic Document Management. And of course EDM is a big component of Knowledge Management AND modern libraries. Which I know all about (or at least something about). Huzzah! Suddenly this whitepaper is no longer the Great Unknown.

So now we are wondering what consitutes the "paperless" ideal for most enterprises these days? We're inclined to think that just like "full employment" is classed as 95%, perhaps "paperless" actually means, I dunno, 80% of tasks are achieved without paper. Over the next week I'll be looking around for any benchmarking studies on this issue. If you know of any or have some thoughts on the topic, please let me know!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Freehills - how to create a classy intranet with a laughably small amount of time and money

Yesterday I attended the NSW KM Roundtable, which is always good value for ideas and networking. The absolute standout presentation for me was how Freehills put together a fantastic intranet using Sharepoint within 9 months. I nearly fell over when I heard how little it cost them despite having both a usability consultant and professional sharepoint developers.

So how did they pull it off? Here's a few points.

  • They engaged a usability consultant (Janders Dean) with expertise in law firm intranets because they couldn't engage their lawyers in user consultation (not billable hours you know!)
  • They determined that phase 1 would be a fairly shallow intranet that really focused on core information and they refused to be distracted by Sharepoint's bells and whistles.
  • The Sharepoint consultants, usability consultant, Freehills IT folk and the KM folk all co-located for the duration of the project. This cut out the time-consuming process of the consultants taking the spec, going away, building it and then coming back to present it and request changes/clarification. They could spec directly with the writer of the spec for any clarfication they needed and show them the progress of the model before they got too far down the wrong track.
  • The final result had to be so easy to use that no user training was required.

So what did the final product look like? Not Sharepoint, that's for sure. With the exception of a small amount of news and navigation on either side of the screen, the front page looks like Google. That's right, lots of white space with a big search box in the middle. The aim is to encourage searching over browsing.

That said, the structure of the content is great, and based around function rather than organisation structure. There is a "How Do I?" section for forms, policies etc. There is also both a "white pages" AND a "yellow pages" directory - so it's easy to work out who to call eg when the aircon breaks down. There is a company page that is kept rigorously up to date with information on board members, financial situation etc (this was in response to a perceived lack of transparency around business processes). The front page also has constantly updated company and external news AND a regularly updated mulimedia presentation. Oh, and most importantly it has a "Did you find what you were looking for?" link to solicit feedback on improvements.

The most important lesson from their consultants was to make sure you had a vision of the future while designing the first phase. Sharepoint is very flexible, but the way you design an element in phase 1 WILL affect your ability to scale/expand its functionality in the future. If you want to continue to grow the intranet over the next 5 or more years, you have to be thinking about how you want to do that from day 1. The value of their usability consultant was to show them the potential of the technology and challenge them to think of ways to improve efficiency that they didn't even think were possible. Amazing stuff.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Media companies realising new media is well and truly here.

Just thought I'd share this quote from an article in the Australian Financial Review, "Opportunities in a mix of old and new" (17/2/09, p31). It's from Caroline Little, CEO of Guardian News and Media North America.

"Multimedia platforms are no longer the future, they are here and the focus is not necessarily to preserve newspapers, but to preserve core journalism values while stretching out into the new media."

The article discusses how businesses see the incredible potential of the new media landscape but are "struggling to turn unprecedented reach and audience into revenue streams". AFR is certainly one of the more backwards examples, with all of their content locked behind a subscriber wall with an astronomical price tag attached (as most of you would have discovered if you clicked on my link above). Are THEY feeling challenged?

I've spent the last few days writing an article on these very issues within the general publishing world, drawing on Sherman Young's analysis of the core values of the book. It also gave me the opportunity to really mull over and draw from Sarah Lloyd's article "A book publisher's manifesto for the 21st century". I think this will be a defining work for publishers looking to the next generation of publishing. My article may not be quite so seminal, but I'm reasonably happy with it and it will probably appear in a Wolters Kluwer publication later this year.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Metadata out of control - not a pretty sight

One of my projects for the next few months is to develop a collection of business-related resources in Sharepoint. For those of you unfamiliar with Sharepoint, Microsoft itself describes SharePoint as Collaboration, Portal, Search, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) , Business process management (BPM) and Business intelligence (BI) (thankyou AIIM for that definition).

My business development collection is just one part of a larger process of rolling Sharepoint out across the company. And high on my personal agenda is to ensure there are appropriate guidelines to ensure a consistent approach to metadata across all teamsites (ie make sure we have consistent titles and subject terms etc for documents loaded into Sharepoint).

You don't have to look far to see how messy an inconsistent approach to metadata can get - just check out my "tag" list to the left. There's probably about 40 tags, some of which I remember to use consistently and many which I don't (meaning that if there are multiple posts on a topic they may not all appear under the relevant tag). Plus it doesn't look very appealing at all. And this is after only a few months of active blog posting by one person. Can you imagine what a collection with multiple contributors might look like after a year or two?

Now I am actually a pretty big fan of tagging items with as many relevant terms as possible, a la Delicious. But it helps to think about consistency as you go - tag with either "blog" or "blogs", or you'll end up with two separate collections which defeats the purpose. OR you tag with both so people can find them, but then that's extra work (not much, but it all adds up). And the graphic interface of Delicious is a big help in searching through the collection.

Sharepoint out of the box is not as flexible as Delicious and may not compensate quite so effectively for metadata shortfalls. While I haven't had much actual experience with it yet, I'm anticipating its metadata will be presented in a manner closer to my blog tag list - ie in a big list without Delicious' ability to combine and filter tags. So we're back to that big mess again - unless we get in early with some appropriate standards.

My next steps? Clean up my blog tags (sigh) and come up with a few standards for them. Then continue to establish and promote some standards for Sharepoint metadata within our company. I'll also be spending some time reading Mark Schneider's Sharepoint Taxonomy and Governance blog, which looks like it will be a good resource!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Featured in Law Librarian News...

Thanks to Sean and Joy from Law Librarian News who listed me as an interesting read in their latest edition. This is a real honour as I'm a long time reader of Practice Source.

Speaking of Law Librarian News, readers may remember that there was an article in the December edition on an upcoming CCH whitepaper, Professionals and Web 2.0. This whitepaper is now available from the CCH website - check it out!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Information alone is not valuable - targeted information is

Don't you love how patterns form from random things? A sample of four or so blogs and articles I read over the last week lead to this epiphany for me.

Item 1:
Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 blogged on "The declining value of redundant news content on the web". He takes an example of a news story about Google that currently has 2000 separate articles tracked on Google News - and how for most of those 2000 journalists the cost of commenting and reproducing the news will not be matched by return readership, simply because there are so many other versions to read.

Item 1.5:
Sean from House of Butter observes in the context of the legal industry that while excessively duplicated news has little value, "Human editors specialising in a segment(s) of the legal industry will we think still find favour with time poor readers".

Item 2:
Hal Varian of Google was recently interviewed by the McKinsey Quarterly. There are heaps of interesting insights in the interview, but here are two that stood out for me:

We have to look at today’s economy and say, “What is it that’s really
scarce in the Internet economy?” And the answer is attention. [Psychologist]
Herb Simon recognized this many years ago. He said, “A wealth of information
creates a poverty of attention.” So being able to capture someone’s attention at
the right time is a very valuable asset.....

I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be
statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer
engineers would’ve
been the sexy job of the 1990s? The ability to take data—to be able to
understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to
communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next

Sensing a theme here? Information hasn't got much value when it's just floating around out there. In fact it can have negative value -the cost of "publishing" it may outweigh the return (even on the internet!). But information that reaches the right person at the exact time they need it, thus capturing their attention - that's where the money is.

Dave Weinberger recognised this in Item 3, "Everything is Miscellaneous" (p223-4):

Miscellanized information is informaiton without borders. That means we've
been misleading CEOs for the past fifteen years by drumming into their heads
that every business is an information business. Of course information is central
to businesses, but business's reflex action has been to wall off what they know
as if it were gold. Now that information is being commoditized, it has more
value if it's set free into the miscellaneous. For example, airlines do better
when their prorietary scheduling and pricing information is made available to
travel sites...It gains even more value when innovators can combine it with
other data..."

Statisticians, innovators, librarians, publishers - whatever title you want to use, these are the people who can collect and present information in a meaningful way, at the right time, to the right people. And it is that skill that will be valuable, and valued, in the information economy of the future.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

More from Information Online 2009

I'll be posting more of my thoughts from Information Online 2009 over the next week, but some people have already done such a good job summarising and commenting on some of the keynotes that I encourage you to read their posts as well.

Anticipating the Future of Libraries (and many other things!): Andy Hines, futurist, adjunct professor of Future Studies at University of Houston
Andy gave a fantastic presentation on the following trends/challenges:
1. Values
2. Demography
3. Lifestyle
4. Technology
5. Work
6. Education
Strawberries of Integrity posted an excellent summary here, please read it!

Libraries as Happiness Engines - Liz Lawley, director of the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Liz had some very interesting thoughts on how taking a gaming/fun approach to libraries, work and more can increase happiness AND productivity (shock!). She identified the elements of happiness as:

  • satisfying work to do
  • the experience of being good at something
  • time spent with people we like
  • the chance to be part of something bigger than yourself
And points out that many of these are more accessible in the online gaming world than real life - no wonder people like games! More on how this applies to libraries etc here.

Liz also pointed out Ravelry as an example of an object-oriented network - where the network is not based just around people but a particular object (in this case yarn and knitting patterns etc). She suggests that the next step for libraries is to turn catalogues into this kind of social network. I think we (publishers) should turn our online research collections into them too! More on that from my previous post.

Anna Pearson has also been writing up some of her thoughts on Information Online...have a look at those too!


Sunday, 25 January 2009

Info Online - The Trouble with Books: finding their place in a post web 2.0 world (Dr Sherman Young)

Dr Sherman Young was an excellent presenter, and the concepts and issues he discussed stayed with me right through the conference. The title of his book alone is enough to command attention - "The book is dead: Long live the book".

Dr Young's key point is that we need to disassociate the concept of the book - something that requires a significant investment of time and thought by the author, editor/publisher and reader - from the print, paper and glue that is its origin. The rest of this post is based on the notes I took throughout his presentation.

Dr Sherman Young by neerav bhatt

A History of the World and the Internet in 4 1/2 slides each.
Dr Young started by giving an overview of the development of media and communication, from oral culture to the internet. He notes that upheaval that each development - written word, the printing press, the radio - caused, and the naysayers (starting with Plato!). He goes on to outline the development of the internet and the changes it is bringing to our research, reading and literacy culture. Then he played Apple's "Knowledge Navigator" vision from 1987 - which is the next step from Web 2.0 into the semantic web.

Where do books fit in a post Web 2.o world?
Now on to the meat of Dr Young's talk: What of books in this new world?
In the footsteps of Alfred Hitchcock: "The Trouble with Harry"
....Harry's dead. So are books. Books don't seem to have a place. In the world of the Knowledge Navigator, books are props that line the dusty shelves of the academic's study.

In our world:

  • Content in books is hidden from the basic google search.
  • Iphone: millions of videos and music on your phone - but not many books!!! (Unless you like Harlequin Romance, which IS available on Iphone. Yeesh!)
Dr Young contends that book culture and print culture getting confused. And as Jeff Jarvis said, "Print is where books go to die".

A book's core attributes.
But if it is not "a printed object", what is a book? Dr Young explains the core attributes of a "book":
  • Time. Books take time to write and time to read. It is a "premium of time" that must be committed by authors, publishers and readers
  • Deeper content - the result of all that time.
  • Not required to react to current events - more reflective, thorough approach.
  • And then the reader must create the world themselves by engaging with the book. Unlike a movie where everything is created and visualised for you, there is a space that must be negotiated by the reader to be meaningful.
Essentially, it's like cooking and eating a Casserole compared to a Big Mac.

But the book is not dead yet - it's just resting.

The future:
Gam3r Th3ory - each chapter discussed and reviewed online before publishing
Wikibooks at Yale - read AND contribute to free scholarly works from Yale.
Yale Books unbound - read and add comments to published works which are now freely available online. This is based on "CommentPress" software that (I think) was developed by the Institute of the Future of the Book.

So how can we encourage "real books" - long form text?
  • ebooks. 68000 at MQ in 2007. Interstingly though, several of the papers from the conference focused on the difficulty in building awareness of e-books among academics and students. So this particular solution has a way to go.
  • Google books. Puts books back in the online conversation with higher, more effective result rankings.
Dr Youn'g final point was that we are experience a time of creative destruction. We need to navigate this time and ensure that books survive with the videos and blogs etc. But librarians need to support authors and publishers trying to work out new publishing, copyright and distribution models.

Books should be part of the online world, not separate. This is our challenge: to make sure that we continue to value books.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it"
- ALan Kay

My thoughts.
This is an amazing vision which publishers really need to explore. In fact, we are already poking around the of the potential modifications of the new CCH Intelliconnect platform (coming this year) will be to allow comments and annotations to our online books and commentary. But thoroughly integrating our publications into the stream of the internet will be a much bigger challenge.


Friday, 23 January 2009

All the pretty birdies....tweeting legal/finance publishers

Thomson Reuters Australia have flown into the twitter world to coincide with ALIA Information Online. In the space of a week they have made 9 tweets and collected 10 followers. They're tweeting a blend of event info (for the conference), links to Westblog articles, and new publication notifications. So far I'm finding them quite topical to follow, it will be interesting to see if they can keep it up and also continue to incorporate local material.

Westlaw US is tweeting, and Martindale Hubbell have also hopped on today (better late than never!). Wolters Kluwer is tweeting too, mostly links to financial news and articles. So far Westlaw is winning in the follower stakes with 239 along for the ride.

Question: is it better to tweet as the company, or as an individual representative of the company? Most are going for the former.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Senator Conroy, the digital economy and internet filtering

I finally have the chance to process some of my thoughts about the Tuesday morning sessions.

Senator Conroy, Minister for Broadband etc, got off to a good start by praising ALIA and the "vital role" it plays in developing future directions in information flow. Lots of good words about the value of the digital economy etc, and the necessity of providing education around media literacy - the ability to find and assess material on the internet.

However, the room suddenly got hostile when he moved on to the topic of internet filtering in public places to reduce cyber crime. There were plenty of public librarians (and general librarians) in the room with plenty of thoughts on filtering and freedom of access. Many of them contributed to the policy exposure draft last year, voicing concerns about the inaccuracy of filtering services leading to blocking of safe content (I should know, happens all the time at work) and how it also can slow down the entire system (I've also experienced that!) Conroy tried to reassure us that this would be extensively tested, but I'm not sure that many were convinced. Plus there was something that sounded suspiciously like a threat - that as publically funded, public institutions we will have to abide by govt policy. Ouch. Talk about insulting.

Anyway, Conroy also had some interesting statistics from an Australian report I shall have to follow up. Here they are:

73% of househoulds in Australia have access or use public services such as libraries.

72% read online news
62% use online maps
36% subscribe to e newsletters
37% look up health info
27% look up government info
24% look up local community info

26% engaged in online social networking
16% read blogs
13% online forums
12% online chat

I find some of these numbers surprisingly low, especially given the results of our own whitepaper. For example, we found that 33% read blogs compared to 16%. I have a theory that this is because we surveyed professionals, a highly educated & literate section of the population who are more likely to have regular internet access and an interest in blogs. What do you think?

Edited to add:
Read the speech transcript here.
View the speech here.


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Connected at the Conference!

I finally managed to connect at the CCH stand at the conference. Huzzah! I'm planning to skip a couple of sessions so maybe I'll have time to add all the posts I was too tired to yesterday.

Lots of people have been coming past and picking up copies of our "Professionals and Web 2.0" whitepaper. I spent so much time working on it with the team, it's great to see it getting some interest. I'll be presenting on it and CCH's new research platform at 5.10 today in Theaterette 3. Please come - everybody else will be getting ready for the dinner! :(


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Information Online Conference Day 1 wrap-up

I am absolutely pooped after a big day one of Information Online.  I'll give a few general impressions in this post and then post summaries and observations on the presentations in separate posts.

First of all, I looove the conference satchel.  I promptly ditched my tatty old laptop bag that ONLY fit the laptop, because this one fits the laptop, my leather folder, and probably half of Asia too.  AND it sits on my shoulder better.  Sadly one of the handles tore away but a lovely conference goer promised me she will bring hers around to the stand tomorrow because she doesn't want it.  Woohoo!

Second of all, great organisation and efficiency all round (with the exception of a couple of timing issues but nothing major).  The conference committee and volunteers I chatted with were all very helpful and friendly.  Nice work.

Thirdly, our CCH stand rocks! (yes I know, shameless corporate plug.)  It's all shiney and white and green and fresh (which was the whole point).  It's a pleasure to hang around.  Plus we have mints.  And pens.  And who can say no to mints and pens?  Everybody should come and visit me there tomorrow, we're not far from the main lunch area (stall 111). 

Fourthly - one major disappointment.

No free wifi.

So instead of loading up my notes after each session, I will be doing it in one big lump tonight.  Huzzah.  Plus I missed the opportunity for direct interaction with other people online via tweets and live blogging.

This is something I really don't understand.  If Maccas (and many libraries) can provide free wifi, why can't they manage it in hotels and conference venues?  Charging $20 an hour in hotels or $165 for three days of a conference is exorbitant.  What a rip off.  When it comes to an Online Information event it should really be included in the cost of conference attendance.  Not that I blame the organisers, they are probably subject to the whims of the venue. 

On that note, I should technically have internet access because I am representing a vendor in the exhibit (and we did buy wifi access!).  However I couldn't seem to log on with the password supplied, although the rest of the team could.  Today was just too busy for me to sort it out, but I might try and get it fixed up tomorrow.

The conference offers a net cafe, but this seems very 2002 to me.  The day was so jam-packed that I had no time to visit it, plus all my notes were on MY computer so I would have had to USB them across.  Tedious. 

Next year I would suggest one of two options.  The first is obvious - free wifi for all!  But if that is not possible, I suggest encouraging bloggers to register as such in advance, and then give them sponsored wifi access.  After all, we are providing free media and exposure for the conference, so it's a fair exchange.


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Monday, 19 January 2009

Information Online - Day 1 program

This week I'm attending the Information Online conference hosted by the Australian Library and Information Association. It's going to be a pretty jam packed few days - here's the plan for tomorrow.

The Stuff Beyond Google: Information Literacy in a Corporate Setting
Engaging Students Online at the State Library of Victoria
Beyond the Search Box: different ways of exploring connections
Enhancing e-resourcefulness
One Search Many Options
Collaborative Spaces in Law Firms

I think Enhancing e-resourcefulness will be very interesting - it's about how UWS librarians worked with academics and vendors to increase the profile of online resources. I've been on both sides of the librarian and vendor fence so it will be interesting to see how they worked together to improve awareness and use of resources.

I'm also intrigued by "One Search Many Options", on the State Library of QLD enriching content with input from patrons using social media and the guidelines they put in place. I believe this is the future for our content as well, so I'll be very interested in what they've done.


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

LexisNexis add fuel to the fire by allegedly uninviting blogger from speaker panel

Some people in LexisNexis have learned the value of engaging the Web 2.0 community rather than dismissing it (see LN's response to my earlier post).

However, the company's latest act has definitely incited a negative response from the online legal profession.

Kevin O'Keefe, owner of Lexblog (blogging solutions for lawyers) and author of Real Lawyers Have Blogs, had been invited to speak on a Web 2.0 panel at the LegalTech New York conference hosted by Incisive Media and sponsored by LexisNexis. About a month ago, he was informed that as part of the sponsorship agreement LexisNexis would have final veto on the panel speakers, but dismissed this as a formality. That is, until he was contacted a few days ago by Incisive Media and apologetically told that the panel was "full".

Kevin was a fairly vocal participant in the recent debate around Martindale Hubbell, so it wasn't much of a stretch to guess why he was suddenly uninvited. When he pressed the Incisive Media contact, he was reluctantly told "there are a lot of politics involved". Read the full details in Kevin's post.

Queue another mad explosion of Twitter conversation on LexisNexis' behaviour, and a debate on whether Lexis is trying to stifle any innovation or constructive criticism in the Legal information industry.

For me, the question is not whether LexisNexis did veto his presence on the panel, or whether they did have valid concerns about what he might say of them at their sponsored event. What interests me is the ongoing PR nightmare this is creating for Lexis. Whoever manages their PR has still not grasped that actions that were possible 5 years ago - such as sweeping a problem maker under the rug by taking away their speaker opportunities - will have the opposite effect in the new world. 5 years ago it may have been the case of the speaker grumbling to a few friends. But Kevin has 2000 followers on Twitter alone, and he has already shown that he is not afraid to speak out about LexisNexis' activities. Is it so surprising that this is being discussed across the web?

A day after Kevin's post, Incisive Media has offered him a place on a different conference panel that is not sponsored by Lexis, an action which he attributes to the storm of protest from his connections on twitter and blogger. There are two implications in this. First of all, it all but confirms that LexisNexis was behind the original rescinding of the invitation. Secondly, that the clients of Incisive Media (& LN for that matter) spoke out via social media, and Incisive Media listened.

I'll leave you something to think about - what will be the real topic of conversation at the Lexis-sponsored panel and the conference as a whole? It may not be what Lexis hope....

An End, and a Beginning, for the Media

"An End, and a Beginning, for the Media". James Poniewozik.

Great article from Time Magazine on how the must respond to the economic crisis and the rise of new media in order to survive and grow. Here's a taste:

People want the vetted information the news media offer--and they want to riff on it, respond to it and even, as in Mumbai, add to it. Journalists should embrace that rather than futilely fight it.

This means offering users more ways of interacting, commenting and contributing. It means seeing new media not as the dumbing down of civilization but as a new way of telling stories and even finding stories. And it means recognizing that the audience is no longer passive--it wants and expects to participate, even as it wants help in making sense of the info deluge.

Of course, what James hasn't figured out is HOW to do that profitably....*sigh*

While you're looking at Time Magazine, check out their article on Facebook and the Gaza Conflict. Most of it isn't that surprising, but it did mention that the Israeli embassy in New York hosted a press conference on Twitter.
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Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Academic publishing - new models of information sharing?

Looking at the program for the ALIA Information Online conference (which I'm attending next week), I was intrigued by the number of sessions about open access and university-based publishing and research repositories. One in particular caught my eye - John Houghton's "Economic Implications of Alternative Scholarly Publishing Models".

Only a few years ago academic blogging was very much frowned upon as a waste of time. However, that appears to be changing. Some academics are experimenting with writing and editing books within communities. Open access platforms are springing up, bringing blogging into the academic world. Check out, where bloggers discuss peer-reviewed research.

I wonder if universities and academics are experiencing the same struggle I am. Open access and distribution of information is a basic principle of education - but publishing is a necessary source of revenue for academics and universities. And what are the implications of replacing peer-reviewed articles with blogging and open access articles?

This topic is way, way bigger than the stray thoughts I had embarking on this post. But I will leave you with a model that just might become the middle ground - the publisher-provided academic network. Thomson Reuters is already experimenting with this in their new product Law School Exchange. Here's what Westblog had to say about it:

"For law faculty around the country, you might think of Law School Exchange as a combination of Facebook, the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and There’s really nothing like it generally or specifically out there in any market,” says Nickles [Wake Forest School of Law], who helped develop the ideas within Law School Exchange. “It creates an entirely new relationship between faculty, authors and publishers.”

Of course, to participate you must be subscribed to Westlaw. Which makes me wonder - if this is a platform for academics to publish and share information, is it a service for them - or are they providing the content for a new "publication" and should be rewarded accordingly? I would hope the latter (after all, Thomson will get the side-benefits of all members subscribing to Westlaw). In any case, it would be very interesting to see how the revenue model works - and whether academics will embrace this new opportunity to collaborate and distribute their work.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Martindale-Hubbell tries to "get Web 2.0" but they really don't.

The recent experience of Martindale-Hubbell shows the danger of a company positioning themselves as a social media player without actually embracing the Web 2.0 culture. Throughout 2008 LexisNexis worked hard to reposition Martindale-Hubbell, the dying lawyer ratings directory, as a social network for lawyers. In just 3 days in December, Martindale-Hubbell’s credibility within the Web 2.0 community was badly damaged by their ineffectual response to a leak that rapidly spread around the blogosphere.

Several other influential bloggers have posted on their problems, but I thought I might throw in some of the backstory and give a blow-by-blow description.

June 2008: Martindale Hubbell positioned as social network for lawyers.
Leader Networks and LexisNexis released a study on lawyers and social networks indicating that lawyers see M-H as a good platform for a social network

July 2008: Martindale Hubbell and LinkedIn join forces
Business-based social network LinkedIn and LexisNexis announced an agreement where LinkedIn profiles are displayed on M-H and M-H content appears on LinkedIn.

Dec 22: Blogger Heather Milligan queries the future of M-H based on an email from her M-H Consultant.
Is Martindale-Hubbell's AV Rating System officially dead?
I received an e-mail on Friday from a peer at LexisNexisMartindale division notifying me that not only was she let go, so was her entire department.”

Dec 22-23: Twitter spreads the news rapidly
Major influences in the legal industry, including a range of other legal publications and directories, voice their opinions. There is no official word on Twitter from Martindale Hubbell. The only person on twitter who is connected to Lexis M-H indicates he cannot speak for the company on this matter.

Dec 23: News of M-H’s incipient demise is posted on influential blogs
Is Martindale-Hubbell's lawyer rating system officially dead? Kevin O’Keefe, Real Lawyers Have Blogs
Martindale Hubbell's AV Rating System Dead As A Dodo. Sean Hocking, House of Butter

Late Dec 23: Lexis responds
Lexis responds with a comment at the bottom of the original post, a post on its own blog, and a statement to the media. The blog post appears to be very similar to the statement and feels like “PR speak”.

Dec 23 onwards: bloggers are unimpressed with Lexis’ response
There are multiple blog posts and tweets to the effect that “Martindale Hubble doesn’t understand Web 2.0”.
Martindale-Hubbell doesn’t get it. Kevin O’Keefe, Real Lawyers Have Blogs
The Death of AV (Update: MH Responds). Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice.

It will be interesting to see how/if Martindale-Hubbell recovers from this incident, and what its future will be.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Web 2.0: enhancing the value and visibility of premium content

I've been thinking a lot about how Web 2.0 can enhance the value and visibility of premium content. In the pay-per-click world, users need some kind of assurance that the info they are about to purchase is relevant and good quality. And they are much more likely to accept the opinion of their peers than the marketing blurb of the publisher (see post below!).

The first and simplest step is to implement a basic ratings and review system. But an even more sophisticated approach is to actually see how many have accessed it, what they thought of it, how they used it and whether it was the right information for their needs.

I think Ravelry's pattern page does exactly that. Have a look:

Ravelry pattern finder: How Web 2.0 can add value to premium content

(Click here for a higher resolution version if you want to read all the writing!)

Knitting 1.0: you purchase a pattern and hope it will look as good as you as it does on the model in the photo. You can't really be sure until you buy the wool, knit the garment, and try it on.

Knitting 2.0 (Ravelry): just look at what you can find out before you buy:

  • How it looks on bodies of all shapes and sizes
  • How it looks when knit with a yarn other than the recommended one - and what yarns are suitable substitutes
  • How hard it is to knit - and how interesting or boring it is to do so!
  • How to avoid or correct problems as you knit it
  • How people have modified the pattern to create a different product that suits their needs (eg using a sock pattern to create fingerless gloves - it has been done!)
All of this comes from ratings, photos, blog posts, and forum posts from other people who have knit it. All provided for free, adding up to a wealth of knowledge that goes way beyond the original pattern.

You will still need to purchase the pattern to knit it. All of that extra information does not replace the key element required to complete this project. It will however, help you to come to a decision about buying it, and assist you in knitting your own version. Plus all those reviews, comments, photos and blogs will help to increase the visibility of that particular piece of content to future users.

It's also worth noting how incredibly relevant and targeted advertising is on this page. In fact it doesn't even look like advertising, just more really useful information. If you want to knit it, click here and buy the wool. If you like it, check out the designer's other patterns.