A Little Friendfeed Feedback, Please?

Since September, 2008, I have been using Twitter, the infamous micro-blogging platform where you “tweet” in 140 character bits amidst a torrent of parallel songbirds . I have been using Friendfeed, a social media aggregator, since November or December of 2008. I have noticed that many of my lawyer-Twitter follows also maintain profiles on Friendfeed. I have subscribed to those same people on Friendfeed, as well as a number of other tech-savvy people.

Friendfeed not only allows one to flow their status, content, blogs, bookmarks, and other media into Friendfeed, it also allows the user to easily post original content and, more importantly, rate and comment on others’ content. In contrast, while you can stream into Twitter, there is little ability to maintain a fluid conversation or organize by topic without cumbersome applications. Unlike Friendfeed which displays content, unless you use an application, content is only accessible via link.

I have been watching the trends and have noted that the legal eagles I follow on Friendfeed do not make much of an appearance there. Instead, Friendfeed seems to primarily serve as another warehouse for their Twitter feeds. I rarely see any comments on their content or any of their comments on other content. Their Friendfeeds seem to be a complete reflection of their twitter activity.

I am wondering what, if any, use the legal community is making out of Friendfeed. My opinion is that Friendfeed is a far better platform for information flow, collaboration, social connection and, dare I say it, marketing. Because you can easily “like” or “comment” on the content of others, you can really get a conversation going. I also appreciate the quality of the content I am seeing. I am getting great information from my tech community. I would love to see more legal-oriented content from Friendfeeders in the legal community.

So, if you are a lawyer or legal professional reading this blog and you are also a Friendfeed member, I would love to hear your comments on how you are currently using Friendfeed, how you would like to use Friendfeed or any negative comments you might have about Friendfeed. I find myself scratching my head as to why professionals pressed for time would opt for the less efficient mechanism for connection and information flow.

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Are You Looking At Me ??????

It’s getting harder and harder to hide these days. There are all sorts of resources out there to track down the untrackable. Have you had that quintessential Facebook experience of reconnecting with an elementary school classmate that you haven’t seen or spoken to in decades?

Sometimes, though, you need the big guns to find that elusive suspect. LifeHacker’s Hive Five this week includes the top five people trackers on the web in its article Five Best People Search Engines. The list includes Pipl, Google, Facebook, spock and 123people. Check out the jump to the article for a bit more detail on why these sites are in the top five.

With such powerhouses at your fingertips, you should be able to easily answer those perennial questions “Where’s Waldo?” and “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiago?” without breaking a sweat.

When In Doubt, Cut It Out

Hat tip to Steve Rubel for this gem, which I saw over on Friendfeed. I try to go through the process shortening phrases whenever possible, but it definitely helps to have a visual to remind one of the options. As one of the commenters to Mr. Rubel’s post noted, microblogging aids his own effort to substitute phrases with words. Take a look at this list and see if you can add to it with your own subsitutions:

image

One More Option for One Stop Shopping

There are so many, many places to hang out on the Web and create a presence. It is a challenge, to say the image least, to visit all of these sites and maintain that presence. The desire to make the process as efficient as possible is behind my abiding interest in aggregators: sites or applications that organize and permit content flow to and from lots of different social networking locales.

I had been using Twhirl, an Adobe Air client, to organize my Twitter stream, but had defaulted back to the Web interface. But last evening, I found a reason, perhaps, to return to it.

Twhirl, which I have discussed in at least one prior post, is a desktop client for social software such as Twitter, Friendfeed, identi.ca and Seesmic. From the site, Twhirl:

Twhirl has been busy and is about to release a new version that significantly improves the “cross-talk” experience between it and many other social sites, like LinkedIn and Facebook. You will be able to update these sites all at the same time. Updates will be real time. And there will be an ability to record and post a Seesmic video right from the Twhirl client to these sites.

Check out the video at the link below of of Loic Le Meur being interviewed by Robert Scoble in which these new features are discussed. It may be time for me to return to Twhirl.

http://www.kyte.tv/ch/6118/326147

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

I recall seeing this article before, but the Legal Writing Prof Blog reminded me of it today: Why Grammar Matters: Conjugating Verbs in Modern Legal Opinions by Robert C. Farrell in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal.

Do you remember all of the voices, tenses and moods? I stopped formal English training my freshman year of undergraduate college when I dropped creative writing. I remember much of the terminology and many of the rules, but not all, so I am heartened by this quote from the article:

In general, it is possible for a lawyer to speak
and write well even if that lawyer is not familiar with the grammatical terminology that describes the structure of the English language.

Mr. Farrell’s point is that it is important to understand the nuances because some judicial opinions reveal the court’s reliance on the shadings between verb forms in reaching decisions. It is good news for me that Mr. Farrell includes a refresher course in his article!

I have to admit that Mr. Farrell’s observation does seem a bit like common legal sense. I have made a living examining insurance policies and staring hard at the commas and conjunctions for any sign of meaning. It (almost) goes without saying that looking in reverse at a drafted item requires that the reader have a very firm grasp on grammar and punctuation. We rely so heavily on precedent and authority and the intended meaning behind the written words, that this level of scrutiny can be taken for granted. But there is no question in my mind that the better you understand the rules of grammar, the sharper your sword.

I really enjoyed reading the article and do recommend it. As a lawyer who understands these subtleties instinctively, it is fascinating to read what courts actually have done with sloppy verb use.

I Always Wanted My Own Widget!

Ever have widget envy? Did you long for the chance to package your own blog or content in a little embeddable box so you could graffiti-style tag every corner of the web with your wit?

Stan Schroeder at Mashable reports that you can now do just that with Blidget Pro from Widgetbox. This tool will create a widgetized version of your blog from your RSS feed. The tool has tons of customizable features to tweak the appearance, integrate tabs from multiple feeds, integrate video within the widget, and custom-link. The service costs $3.99 per month, although someone in the comments correctly questions if this is per widget or per use.

If you don’t like paying, the commenters also point out a couple of other options, like HyPick and KickApps. I can’t do the actual comparison as I haven’t used any of them (yet), but keep checking back and maybe you will see a ‘Studio Widget complete with video and scrolling marquee!

I do have a question, though. Any of you attorneys out there think about your first year contracts class every time you hear the word “widget?” I always wondered what they were and now I know!

Girding Facebook for Business

Just today, I was talking about how Facebook is not my favorite site for business networking, but that itappears to be working hard to change that impression. Lo and behold, my FeedDemon reader contained a handy article from Josh Peters over at Mashable! listing 30 Apps For Doing Business On Facebook. I use many of the applications featured, although I admit there is more than a little overlap in the thirty apps featured. Consequently, there may be ten or so truly distinct tools for business promotion. No matter, though, as there is nothing wrong with options when it comes to utilizing social media for marketing!

Peters breaks the apps into categories -  blog promotion; business / self-promotion; communication; networking; collaboration; audio / visual; and the ubiquitous miscellaneous bucket. Under blogs, you can find: Networked Blogs app; Notes (Default App); RSS Connect; and, Simplaris BlogCast.

Under business & self promotion, you can find: Define Me; GLPrint Business Cards; IEndorse; My BusinessBlinkWeb; Professional Profile; Posted Items (Default App); and, Testimonials.

For communication, there is: CalliFlower; Smart Phone; SmartMessage Center; Telephone; and, Voice Mail.

Networking apps are: Introductions; My LinkedIn Profile; SocialFly; Tag Biz Business Network; Workin’ It!; and, Xing. Facebook members can collaborate using: Huddle by WorkSpaces; and, My Office.

Audio / visual apps offer: Facebook Video (Default App); PodCast Player; and, SlideShare. Finally, miscellany includes: JD Supra Docs; Memorable Web Addresses for Profile, Page or Group; My Money; Page Maps; and, Static FBML.

With a tool box like this, Facebook certainly might give LinkedIn a run for its money. Someone, somewhere, once said: “leave no stone unturned.” I might modify that to read: “leave no social networking outlet untouched by the imprint of your business and brand.” Facebook now gives you the where-with-all to do just that.

Law Marketing Network

Have Facebook, LinkedIn and that other large social networking site gotten too cumbersome and impersonal for your tastes? Ning allows you to create your own social network tuned to your personal or professional interests and custom-crafted to your exacting specifications. Ning basic offers design options, member qualification and approval processes, widgets, member search, real-time activity streams, custom text and widgets, media features, discussion forums, chat, Facebook integration, blogs and event calendars. You can upgrade to premium features, which remove promotion links and control ads, permit use of your own domain name and offer more storage and bandwidth. Ning currently hosts over 600,000 unique social networks that cover an incredibly broad spectrum of subject matter.

Today I joined a Ning network for Law Marketing. The network was created by Mina Sirkin, an Estate Planning, Probate and Trust lawyer in the Los Angeles area. I have been following Ms. Sirkin on Twitter for a while now and respect her professional and business acumen immensely. The network’s stated purpose is for facilitating legal practitioners in their effort to connect and communicate with each other and collaborate on marketing projects and products. There are currently just under 100 members, but I expect the ranks will grow fairly quickly.

The site is laid out well and my page is easy to read and full of information. You can find it here. If you are interested in modern legal marketing using social media, I encourage you to stop by this network, check it out and connect!

Influence Google Search Results Through Experimental Preferred Sites Feature

From Mashable, Google tweaks its search functionality to give you a little extra extra, with a Preferred Sites option within Preferences on the Google search page. Apparently this function is not enabled for all users – it was not available when I selected preferences on the Google search screen using my Firefox browser. Preferred Sites is experimental only at this stage and was rolled out to a small group of users.

From the unofficial Google Operating System site:

"The preferred sites feature lets you set your Google Web Search preferences so that your search results match your unique tastes and needs. Fill in the sites you rely on the most, and results from your preferred sites will show up more often when they’re relevant to your search query."

The blog entry also explains that “Preferred Sites is an extension of Google SearchWiki, the feature that allowed you to make per-query changes. If the feature goes live to everyone, people will be able to pick a list of authoritative sites and influence all search results.”

While Mashable questions the utility of selecting the sites you prefer Google to run its searches in and even worries about skewing search results in this fashion, I can see some value to this advanced feature. For example, if you are mostly interested in searching state insurance departments, you can toggle these sites to preferred status. Unlike the Google Custom Search Engine, the search will not be limited to the preferred sites, but will hit them more readily. The ability to achieve greater flexibility in securing the most relevant result is not a bad thing for the avid researcher.

Google Asks: What Do You Want To Search Today?

The Connected Law Student

Today is rife with blogs offering interesting points of view. If you are interested in hearing what law students have to say about the intersection of law and technology and social media, trot on over to Social Media Law Student, The blog is authored by Rex Gradeless, a third year law student at the St. Louis University School of Law. Rex seems right on target with his stated desire to advocate social media use by lawyers to build communities, share information, discuss and debate and encourage effective employment of technology in the court room.

Rex’s blog is tightly laid out. The current page shows articles on using Twitter to become a better legal writer, a judge’s allowance of the use of Twitter in the courtroom, how to ease your firm into the use of social media by employing Yammer, Law Pod for iPhone, and using Twitter to become a better legal writer.

Seasoned lawyers take note: modern law students raised entirely in the current digital age are more sensitive to the benefits of social media and savvy in its uses. Rex must be doing something right: he has more than 6,000 followers on Twitter! Maybe the student can teach the teacher.