Flocking to Tweetree

I deliberately have been trying NOT to post about  Twitter stuff lately, as the blogosphere is lousy with variations and permutations on the Twitter theme. But I feel compelled to pass along this note about Tweetree.

Tweetree is a website, rather than an application, that offers a view of your Twitter stream in tree format. treeIn other words, Tweetree will attempt to branch the stream into conversations so you can see the posts in their intended context. Tweetree also shows the information behind the links posted in their intended format – the content will show inside the tweet. Tweetree currently supports context viewing of YouTube, flickr, TwitPic, FriendFeed, Seesmic, Qik, lala, Blip.fm and xkcd.

All you need to do is go to the site, enter your id and password and the site will show you the view in Tweetree format. I believe it is built a platform called Ruby on Rails (if that means something to you). The developers, Draconis Software, are practically next door neighbors to me – they are located in Woburn, Massachusetts.

I like it a lot. I have been spending more time on FriendFeed lately because I prefer the ability to comment on each posted item in a threaded manner and to view people’s links right in the time line. Tweetree addresses both of these preferences.

The only complaints I currently have are that I haven’t yet figured out how to DM people in Tweetree and that the service is still somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes it locks up on me. But it is still a new site and I have high hopes for it.

Try it for yourself and see if you find the format easier to follow and scan than the Twitter web format and the popular Twitter apps.

Caveat Emptor

I am a champion of on-line resources for legal and general research and drafting. As a lawyer, I take for granted that I can find information that is both reliable and relevant without having to dedicate excessive thought to the process. Having been trained as a lawyer and having performed research for years, I can quickly separate the wheat from the information chaff.

But what happens when the average person approaches research and, more importantly, legal research or document preparation on the web without training and expertise? They may well fall into a “trap” created by non-legal sites masquerading as reliable legal resources. Richard Granat at the eLawyering blog posted an entry recently on Best Practice Guidelines for Legal Information Web Site Providers. Mr. Granat points out that, in 2003, the American Bar Association approved a list of best practice guidelines for legal information web site providers. The guidelines are quite basic and the ABA has not put any teeth into them, so the on-line “legal” services realm remains fraught with some peril. As Mr. Granat points out, legitimate sites will be following these best practices as a matter of course. Sites that are missing contact information, fail to identify which jurisdictions will accept the forms or the date the content was created or updated should set off some warning bells.

Another lawyer or seasoned researcher will quickly recognize those sites that purport to be something they are not. However, the casual observer might be deceived into believing that the information offered on these sites is valid and acceptable to the courts in the desired jurisdiction. Mr. Granat identifies a law firm-sponsored site and a non-law firm-sponsored site that provide polar examples of how such legal services should and shouldn’t be marketed.

Asking a lay person to recognize the distinctions identified by Mr. Granat presents a certain catch-22: the sites are designed to “trap” the unwary into purchasing “legal” services that are anything but legal by preying on their inexperience. The better police force is made up of our own profession and our governing entities and organizations such as the ABA. If on-line or e-lawyering is ever to take off and challenge the brick and mortar firms, consumers must be secure in their belief that they are getting the genuine article. “Caveat emptor” is a recognized precept of a free-market society. I am just not sure it should be used where legal services are concerned.

Moving Day for Advocate’s Studio

In keeping with efforts to keep up with all the best practices in Web 2.0, I am moving Advocate’s Studio intoimage Feedburner. The Feedburner feed is now active, and I will be changing over the RSS feed settings on WordPress. I will change that over just after Christmas and I sincerely hope that you note the change and re-subscribe to this feed. You can’t beat the subscription price! And you wouldn’t want to miss any news or musings on Law, Research, Writing and Technology in 2009, now would you? Caution: rhetorical question!

Actually, I do believe that the old feed will continue to work, but I would love to be able to “see” you in Feedburner! All you will need to do is re-subscribe to the feed in whatever reader service you use.

All the best for an enjoyable Holiday Season and warm wishes for the coming year. May it be our best year yet!

Moving Day for Advocate’s Studio

In keeping with efforts to keep up with all the best practices in Web 2.0, I am moving Advocate’s Studio intoimage Feedburner. The Feedburner feed is now active, and I will be changing over the RSS feed settings on WordPress. I will change that over just after Christmas and I sincerely hope that you note the change and re-subscribe to this feed. You can’t beat the subscription price! And you wouldn’t want to miss any news or musings on Law, Research, Writing and Technology in 2009, now would you? Caution: rhetorical question!

Actually, I do believe that the old feed will continue to work, but I would love to be able to “see” you in Feedburner! All you will need to do is re-subscribe to the feed in whatever reader service you use.

All the best for an enjoyable Holiday Season and warm wishes for the coming year. May it be our best year yet!

The Wikipedia Show

Lot’s of Wiki-related information in my RSS yesterday, so  I thought I would collect some of it here and connect the Wiki-dots. First out of the box:  Daryn Grossman at imagethe New Media & Technology Blog hosted by Proskauer Rose, LLP reports that the medical journal, RNA Biology, is making its authors publish article abstracts on Wikipedia. This Journal has developed new publishing guidelines that include a requirement that the author upload an abstract to Wikipedia once the article is accepted for publication in the Journal. Apparently, the Journal’s requirement is part of a larger RNA Wiki project intended to encourage RNA researchers to create and grow public information on the topic of RNA families. An obvious question is raised by Grossman: what happens when another Wikipedia user decides to edit the abstract? The project people believe that the nature of the content is unlikely to attract editing, but authors are cautioned to periodically check their entries for changes. Will inclusion of scholarly article abstracts increase Wikipedia’s credibility? With the editing ability intact, questions regarding true reliability remain.

Next, Legal Writing Prof Blog tipped me off to a new book by Professor Robert E. Cummings (related to e.e.?) of Columbus State University of Georgia on how to teach writing to the “Wikipedia” generation. Aptly entitled “Lazy Virtues: Teaching Writing in the Age of Wikipedia”, pre-orders are being taken and the book is due imminently. The book is a textbook for college professors and includes collaborative writing assignments. Blog entry author James Levy comments that Cummings does not “praise” or “condemn” Wikipedia use, but implicitly acknowledges its role in the modern research and writing process. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Last up, I stumbled onto the Wikimedia.org site yesterday and got a glimpse of all of the “wiki” projectsimage it maintains. These include the giant Wikipedia, of course, but there also is Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks (including Wikijunior), Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikimedia Incubator and Meta-Wiki. Lots of collaborative on-line information – these wiki sites which might not be your ending place in a research project, but definitely are worth a look. And wikis certainly offer a writer a chance to “get involved” in the process through collaboration and editing of entries.

The New Live Writer Writing About The New Live Writer

I just downloaded the new Windows Live Writer 2009 and this is my first post with it. I have been using Live Writer from the beginning – I like being able to manipulate my entries off-line in a program with more functionality than the on-line WP interface. I really have no complaints with the old version, but the new version seems slicker and offers more. Taken from the Windows Live Writer Team blog:

  • “Instant photo” border treatment
  • Insert multiple photos
  • Insert and upload Windows Live photo albums
  • Insert and publish video to YouTube
  • Spell checking in: Arabic, Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, English (Australia), Estonian, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, and Ukrainian
  • Server-side tagging (support coming soon to WordPress.com and BlogEngine.NET)
  • Type-down filtering in the Open dialog
  • Improved blog account setup
  • Windows Live Spaces inline preview support
  • Support for bidirectional languages
  • Updated look and feel

There are also three new plug-ins: a Flickr uploader; an automatic DiggThis badge when you upload; and, an automatic Twitter notify.

The new version is in “release candidate” stage and the Live Writer team is soliciting feedback on any bugs prior to general release.

If you currently use Live Writer, this is a nice upgrade. If you don’t yet use Live Writer, I recommend you try it out.

FindingDulcinea: The Impossible Dream?

I wholeheartedly embrace the avalanche of free and available information on the web. However, I am the first to concede that researching on-line is fraught with the perils of inaccuracy and unreliability. Even for seasoned researchers, the process of finding authority and confirming its authenticity and reliability can be challenging at best and nightmarish at worst.

Enter FindingDulcinea: a librarian for the internet age. Unlike traditional engines, such as Google and Yahoo that rely on algorithms for matching results to search terms, FindingDulcinea uses good, old-fashioned human beings to map relevancy and accuracy – they currently have a staff of approximately 30 with an equal number of free-lancers. Although the site does not provide its own search engine, it offers three types of information: web guides, in English and Spanish, with search tips and vetted links in 16 categories; “Beyond the Headlines” with headlines and historical and context annotations accompanying top news stories; and “Netcetera,” offering blurbs featuring a variety of stories currently circulating on-line.

Each site included on FindingDulcinea is accompanied by an informative narrative that helps streamline the process of determining relevancy.  FindingDulcinea limits its site list to approximately 25,000 so that it can focus on its editorial content and organization.

You won’t want to end your search process with FindingDulcinea, but its a great place to start!

A Virtual Sticky Note on Your Computer Screen

Without the gummy residue. Lifehacker “marks” this little app, Sticky Screen, that replaces your start page with a simple sticky note reminder. Lifehacker explains that the typed note is stored in a browser cookie so there is no need for a log in. Plus, its my favorite price: free.

I am FAMOUS for sticking these little (mostly) yellow notes all over the edges of my screen and computer. Sticky Screen is a brilliant morphing of these little notes into our virtual reality.

image

Winter Hats Off To Librarian Chick

I stumbled this morning onto this great Wiki created by Stacy Reed, a/k/a Librarian Chick. Reed has collected on her site links to the best of the Internet’s free resources for “those with big brains and small image pocketbooks.” There is a directory along the left side of the page to help you navigate through the hundreds of resources. She also has two search links at the top for free books and free educational information, sites, games and software. I cannot come close to scratching the surface of the information she has collected, but I do include a few highlights here, such as:

  • Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts – About 14,000 classic public domain documents from American and English literature as well as Western philosophy
  • Abacci eBooks – Free eBooks of the world’s great classics formatted for Microsoft Reader
  • Intelligentedu – Free computer training, education and tutorial resources
  • Optimize Guides – Free, comprehensive guides for the Windows 2000, XP and Vista operating systems
  • Berklee Shares – Free music lessons that you can download and share
  • Figure Drawing Ebooks – A library of free rare and valuable figure drawing books in PDF format
  • AllWords– Dictionary that allows you to search for words containing certain letters, words ending with and words starting with
  • Dictionarist – A talking dictionary which can provide translations with pronunciation and sound in over a dozen languages
  • Create A Graph – Quickly create graphs and charts
  • Empressr – Create, share and store Flash-based presentations online
  • American Rhetoric – Top 100 speeches of the 20th century by rank
  • MIT World – A vast video archive of lectures
  • Librarian Chick has entire sections devoted to writing assistance and research. There is a sizeable amount of information about computers, programming and the web. Although there are no law-specific links, there is so much rich content on this site of general utility that I heartily recommend a trip for your free educational enrichment. Consider Librarian Chick as a first stop on your journey of web exploration.

    Writer's Block. Gone!!!!!

    I am STILL laughing over here about this link. Do you ever get writer’s block? Does it hit so hard that you can’t even move your fingers to type? All you need to do is click this link and dial 911 Writers Block for emergency expert assistance.

    The link is to a site hosted by WEBook, an online book publishing company. WEBook claims to do for the writing industry what American Idol did for music, although jury is still out on whether that is a benefit or a drawback. WEBook bills itself as a collaborative creative writing community tasked to assist one another with producing written material for publication. Thus, WEBook resides at the intersection of blogging, social networking and book publishing. The heart of the site is the ability to start a writing project online, invite co-authors to help and solicit feedback from the community. Once the manuscript is submitted, the WEBook committee will vote on it (hence the American Idol reference).

    WEBook has produced one collaborative novel: Pandora, which has 17 authors. I am not sure about the intellectual property issues surrounding such an effort and I am certain that lots of interesting legal questions will arise, but those questions are for a later date and a different post.

    Back to the hotline: 911 Writers Block is found in the Toolbox link. The graphic shows a payphone keypad. You enter a number from the directory to access a image particular writing element or directive: settings; characters; dramatic effect; dialogue; commiserate; verbs; calisthenics; kill a character; and, endings. The final number, 0, will hook you to a member of the WEBook community for further help.

    I, of course, had to try this. Selecting 2 for characters yielded this:

    Business owner and amateur pool shark Larry has hired a team of contractors to remodel his home library. Every book he owns tells him how to be better at something he already does well.

    Pressing 3 for dramatic entrances brought back memories of President Bush and the shoe-throwing reporter:

    An attic room. A man sits at his desk, staring at a blank sheet of paper. A red patent-leather stiletto flies through the open window and lands on the floor with a thud.

    Finally, I couldn’t resist the temptation of killing off a character, which gave me the following cryptic clause:

    Deep vein thrombosis on a 22-hour flight to Mumbai

    Although there appears to be no real limitation on the types of writing projects that can be started, I am not convinced this is the best venue for writing a legal tome. And I don’t think that the 911 Writers Block tool will directly assist you in preparing a brief or motion. Nonetheless, if you find yourself stumped and blocked while engaging in your legal writing project, a quick trip to 911 Writers Block might get you laughing hard enough to fire up some neurons and recharge your pen!