The Internet At 40

Internet at 40

The Studio is taking a techie-geeky side-road detour and is offering this great podcast / interview called “The Internet At 40”. Included are interviews with John Naughton, Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University and author of ‘A brief history of the future – the origins of the internet’ and a newly recorded interview with Rodney Harrison, lecturer in Heritage Studies at the Open University, talking about Second Life and virtual communities. The cast is conducted by radio journalist Penny Boreham.  Hit the jump here for the recording – it’s fascinating.

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Webinars: Not Designed To Instruct On Web-Spinning

Image representing GoToMeeting as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Webinars provide professionals with yet another means of communicating their expertise and offering information – the life-blood of the on-line world –  to an internet audience. LLRX has a good overview of the webinar experience penned by Wells Anderson called Marketing Yourself with Webinars. For those unfamiliar, a webinar is a hybrid concoction: one part teleconference and one part on-screen slide presentations via Powerpoint or another slidesharing service. Attendees sign up, access through a webinar conference number and can simultaneously hear the conference via phone and view the slides via the computer.

There are many good reasons for using webinars to promote your brand and business and Mr. Anderson highlights them well in the article. For me, a webinar reminds your webinar audience, as well as those who view promotion of the webinar, of your professional web presence, setting you in the role of educator and expert and offering proof of your web-savvy nature.

Anderson advises using subscription service GoToMeeting from Citrix Online for webinar hosting, promising a straight-forward and easy-to-use experience. I found their product GoToWebinar.  Creating your webinar should be no different than the process of creating a live seminar presentation.

But the key to a successful webinar is proper promotion. Use existing contacts, your blog and services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other venues offering a broader audience for your presentation promotion.

If you are committed to marketing your practice using modern on-line methods, webinars are a great addition to your Web 2.0 strategy and branding. Use them at regular intervals to sharpen your own presentation technique and remind the Web why you are the go-to guy or gal in your particular field.

Check out a video review of GoToWebinar above for more information about webinars in general and this product in particular.

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Get What You Pay For And Keep Those Expectations In Line

Let the sales begin...
Image by alancleaver_2000 via Flickr

Overseas outsourcing. For me, the jury is out and deliberating and has been that way for quite some time. Today, Ken Adams at Adams Drafting took the words out of my mouth (or my typing fingers): as long as the outsourcer has realistic expectations about the limitations on what may be returned from the outsourcee, then the practice has worth.

For Ken, there should be an inverse relationship between the complexity of the task and outcome in a given matter and the desire to outsource to a general-practice offshore vendor or captive firm.  In the case of contract drafting, real contract “drafting” (as compared to contract “tweaking”) requires a specific set of skills and experience, particularly with the peculiarities of the jurisdiction’s laws and treatment. Any vendor with insufficient experience in the task at hand can fall prey to pitfalls in creating a tight, effective product.

For me, the decision to turn over any research or writing project to a generalist rather than a specialist should not be a cavalier endeavor. The downside of investing in a case of discount soda at the bulk warehouse?  A nasty taste in one’s mouth. The downside of submitting a complex legal question for discount treatment? A  far more bitter taste and potentially longer-lasting consequence.

For those considering outsourcing to a foreign jurisdiction, consider all the alternatives. One of those alternatives might be turning the work over to a contract lawyer with a particular specialty or, in the case of a complex contract drafting matter, the drafting expert in the relevant jurisdiction. We might be a better bargain in the long-run than you think.

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Know Your Chemicals!

Have a need for identifying chemicals? Toxic torts and environmental exposures come to my mind. Common Chemistry is a database of chemicals offered by Chemical Abstracts Service (“CAS”) that includes information for more than 8,000 chemical compounds.  Searches yield  a list of matching compounds and registry numbers. A click on that number will bring you to the chemical structure and a list of synonyms for the compound and, in some cases, a Wikipedia entry on the substance.

Hat tip to ResearchBuzz

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More "Twitter" for Business: Obayoo

Another entrant in the professional micro-blogging field is offering its service for free: Obayoo is free over SaaS and available through the company e-mail address.

Twitter, in theory, sounds great for professional application but in practice generates too much noise to be an effective internal communications tool.  Tools like Obayoo limit the traffic and, accordingly, the noise, while still affording users the ability to provide real-time updates and engage in quick and timely comunication in micro-blog format. Obayoo also offers security that Twitter cannot ensure. Nonetheless, like Yammer, one of Obayoo’s competitors, contractors and clients can be invited into the mix and “share” what is happening at any given moment, so the system is not completely “closed.”

Obayoo provides some additional goods, such as user profiles and organization charts,file and media sharing and metrics. At its price-point (free), Obayoo offers excellent ease and added features, making it well worth the try in your firm or organization.

Hat tip to Read Write Web.

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More “Twitter” for Business: Obayoo

Another entrant in the professional micro-blogging field is offering its service for free: Obayoo is free over SaaS and available through the company e-mail address.

Twitter, in theory, sounds great for professional application but in practice generates too much noise to be an effective internal communications tool.  Tools like Obayoo limit the traffic and, accordingly, the noise, while still affording users the ability to provide real-time updates and engage in quick and timely comunication in micro-blog format. Obayoo also offers security that Twitter cannot ensure. Nonetheless, like Yammer, one of Obayoo’s competitors, contractors and clients can be invited into the mix and “share” what is happening at any given moment, so the system is not completely “closed.”

Obayoo provides some additional goods, such as user profiles and organization charts,file and media sharing and metrics. At its price-point (free), Obayoo offers excellent ease and added features, making it well worth the try in your firm or organization.

Hat tip to Read Write Web.

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How To Stay Connected In A Disconnected Work Place

Everyone wants to work from home. I know I fully appreciate the opportunity to do so. But working from home or working across the country from your co-workers and collaborators raises novel challenges. Humans are social animals with a strong need to connect, both professionally and socially. How can these connections be maintained, nurtured and expanded when the only other being sharing your office is the pet hamster?

Gina Trapani has some suggestions at the Harvard Business blog in her article entitled Master The Art of Working Remotely. The article does not focus on how to set up your office, how to get your work done or how to print and fax documents. Her focus is THE focus: how to maintain the human connections necessary for getting the job done. Trapani provides advice on how to make the most of the lines of communication available to the remote worker: email; messaging and text-based chat; on-line collaboration tools; and, voice and video chat. The idea is not simply to remind others of your existence, but to fully leverage the benefits of the various media and preserve the record in ways that are unavailable in the traditional Office Space set-up.

I would add a few additional tools to her list. Social media can bridge connections between co-workers and collaborators provided its use is targeted to a professional connection. Microblogging offers a means for one-way updates regarding status, results  and whereabouts, while social sites offer fora for communicating in more general, professional terms with other, similarly-situated workers.

It all boils down to keeping the “human” in the “human interaction” with gentle reminders to others of your existence and value to the task at hand.

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Early Summer Cleaning – Mac-Style

Since I highlighted the Windows version of this Lifehacker list of essential free downloads, I think it only fair that I also include the companion list for Macs, even if I am not personally a Mac user. I will cop to being a Mac wannabe, though, and that counts for something.

There is definitely overlap between the Windows and Mac list, including Firefox and iTunes. There are also plenty of other offerings addressing productivity, communication, utilities, multimedia, and file backup/syncing.

Enjoy the free!

From Lifehacker.

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Why Just Search, When You Can Custom-Search?

Google, Bing, Ask, Hakia, Wolfram Alpha – nice information gathering tools to be sure, but do they really target exactly what you want you are looking for?

An often-overlooked option is creating a custom search engine that hones in on the sites and searches that you are most interested in. John DiGilio discusses the custom search engine option at LLRX in his article Bridging the DiGital Divide: Custom Search Engines Put You In Control.

DiGilio discusses two options: Google Custom Search and Rollyo (“Roll Your Own”) and mentions a third, CSE Links.

These tools allow you to direct your search at specific sites, include specific parameters and, essentially, cut loose the extraneous from your results. I have created a Google Custom Search engine that targets the websites of State Insurance Departments and related agencies and organizations, which is particularly useful for finding form filings and legislative news. I have compared results on my custom search site to general Google results and find the former more tailored and on-point.

If you find yourself searching the same issues over and over again and have specific results in mind, consider the custom search option and tap into that “do-it-yourself” aesthetic.

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A Big Keycite Ooops!

Imagine telling the world that a United States Supreme Court opinion is still good law, even though it had been explicitly overturned three weeks ago? Well, West apparently was doing just that with regard to the case Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625, which was overruled by Montejo v. Louisiana.

The misreporting continued until late Friday, but appears to have since been corrected. Lexis/Nexis reported the correct posture from the start.

Interesting blunder, but not an impossible one. After all, this work of updating cases is done by humans. In some ways, it is no different than the partner who relies on the associate’s “shepardizing”, only to find the associate has missed some key treatment in a case.

So, what do you do in court when you mistakenly rely on authority that is no longer good law? Explain that you relied on West – one of the largest legal publishers in the world, which by all rights should be a legally reasonable thing to do.

Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog

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