Bringing The Business Card Into the Modern Age

Beautiful Legal Card Designs from Business Card Designs

Beautiful Legal Card Designs from Business Card Designs

The business card. It has served such a multitude of functions over time. It is both an announcement and a reminder of your presence in a profession. The design of the card “clothes” you with a certain style. From the staid Times New Roman font on slightly textured creme stock to wild and funky holographic designs, the card says as much about you as your attire.

Now you can show the world your tech-savvy nature using virtual cards. Like everything else, technology has touched the modern business card and there are all sorts of new ways to announce yourself and remind your audience about your sphere of influence. There are different tools depending upon your own preferred methods of communication.

Of course, most people are familiar with the vCard, a file format standard for electronic business cards. vCards are most frequently attached to e-mail messages, but can be exchanged in other ways. Short for Versitcard, vCards were  first developed as long ago as 1995. vCards offer the means for incorporating the sender’s information into your electronic contacts list and are still widely used today.

But why stop at the primitive vCard? There are scores of new ways to capture this information. The iPhone offers many free apps for keeping and transmitting business card information, including SnapDat, beamMe, FreeContact, myCard Free, BeezCard Lite, Handshake, Fliq, and Dub. Check out this article by Jennifer Van Grove at Mashable describing and comparing the various apps and offering screenshots. There are paid apps with increased functionality as well. Newcomer iBCard will allow you to transfer a very real looking business card via the iPhone’s bluetooth connection or email.

Contxts affords the ability to share business card information via SMS text messages. Cool! TxtID provides a similar service.

DubMeNow has a virtual business card app for iPhone and Blackberry with added support for LinkedIn.

Or you can create and maintain an on-line business card and virtual Rolodex with web applications such as SpartX. With Retaggr, you can create an embeddable card with links to all of your on-line outposts.

You can expand your web information presence with such personal streaming sites as OnePage, Google Profiles or Chi.mp. These options really serve as outposts for aggregating your on-line presence and do not really offer true business card functionality, such as the ability to store the virtual cards of others. However, if you are most interested in maintaining a single spot for all of your on-line activity where you can direct interested contacts, these sites are the way to go.

You can even Tweet your business card using twtBizCardto send, you just need to add #twtbizcard to a @reply!

Do you like to email your card, a la vCard, but want for something a bit more up to date? Try DropCard or WeaveMet – combining the power and ease of both email and SMS for a monthly fee.

Since business cards are as ubiquitous as cell phones, why not combine the two to create an instant virtual card network? MyNameIsE does just that. Taken from their site:

E enables you to collect your accounts – on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and every other network of your choice – in one spot, and share them in real life by using any mobile phone or Connector.

You decide which profiles you share: E allows you to make an online ‘business card’ for every occasion. This way, you’ll be able to share business info with business contacts, and private info with private contacts.

When you exchange your card via this service, you will automatically connect with your contact via all the chosen social networking sites as well. You can create different cards for different contexts, and set the desired connections accordingly. Use the phones’ internet connections or a proprietary device called, obviously enough, the Connector, to exchange information. Changes to contact information get pushed straight to your existing contacts automatically. This service looks absolutely fascinating to me and clearly seeks to push the business card into the future!

Bottom line? If you want to look modern and all techno-geeky like, consider some of these great electronic options to connect your card to the world!

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Going For The Gold On A Theory Of Vicarious Liability – Suing God

Fresco.
Image via Wikipedia

No pocket is deeper than THIS one! Ultimate responsibility for what ails you must rest somewhere and where better than up?

My deepest gratitude to Walter Olson at the Overlawyered blog who pointed me to this wonderful Wikipedia entry entitled “Lawsuits Against God.” There are factual suits and there are fictional suits. There are issues with proper service, venue and jurisdiction. There are questions as to who might serve as God’s legal representative. All good reads.

But I will tell you this: the list is not exhaustive. I have dealt with lawsuits naming parties we have represented that have named God as a co-defendant and they are not on this list. So, while the Wikipedia article is illustrative of the suits, it is not complete. Some of MY more memorable suits included RICO counts against public officials, judges, past and present U.S. Presidents, Hitler and God (that is some conspiracy) or lawsuits challenging evictions (“not only was I evicted from this apartment, I was evicted from this world.”)

I suppose when you feel like you have appealed to the highest power and haven’t quite gotten the expected response, the answer in a litigious society is to sue. Just be careful which name you use or your suit might be subject to a Motion to Dismiss.

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Hashtags: The Backbone Of The Modern Conference (For Better Or Worse)

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.
Image via Wikipedia

Have you wondered where all the action lurks at legal conferences (or any conferences) these days? Check out this thorough description of the “hashtag” experience at the recent American Association of Law Library conference, July 24 – 29, 2009. If you are unclear on the hashtag concept, it is another long-standing Twitter convention hearkening back to the days when search was nearly non-existent. Marking a universally-accepted term with a hashtag at the front permitted the tweets containing the mark to be collected. See this earlier Studio post for more detail.

Roger Skalbeck and Meg Kribble provide an extraordinarily detailed account of how Twitter and hashtags were used to broad effect at the recent conference in their LLRX article here. The authors created tweet clouds from the tags to visualize the importance (or recurrence) of various topics. They discussed the fall out of anonymous attendees posting to a special account created just for the conference. Hashtag humor and conversation hijacking and blatant business promotion arose in the tagged tweets and accounts.

I am not sure the authors of the article are aware of all of the lessons that the AALL hashtag experience may offer for future legal conferences, from both the organizers’ and the attendees’ points of view. Can too much communication be a positive or negative? Hit the jump and read the account to reach your own conclusions.

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Disrupting Legal Practice With Technology

Very interesting post on WestBlog by Andrew McLennan-Murray summarizing a recent presentation by legal rabble rouser Richard Suskind (“The End of Lawyers“) at 2009 International Legal Technology Association conference. Susskind discussed technologies that will disrupt the legal profession.

Disrupter beam jokes aside, Susskind identified these technologies as: (1) automated document assembly; (2) “relentless” connectivity; (3) the electronic legal marketplace; (4) electronic learning; (5) on-line legal guidance and advice; (6) open-source legal resources; (7) on-line networking and sharing of experience, lessening need for traditional legal representation; (8) workflow automation and project management; (9) embedded legal knowledge allowing instantaneous / constant connection to relevant laws, codes, regulations, etc.; (10) on-line dispute resolution, minimizing need for in-person meetings.

Hit the jump above for a more thorough explanation of these technologies – how they may be applied and how they will affect legal practice. The tools themselves are developing and technology is morphing so rapidly that it certainly promises to be an interesting ride for any technology-forward law firm. Surely, adoption largely will be driven by the needs of a particular firm’s clientele or the firm’s desire to fill a specific niche that few have yet plumbed. Or, thrill-seeking firms can just forge ahead like early leaders in a marathon, hoping to pull the field along with them.

I, of course, will be watching the race on my triple-screen computer set-up, cheering the pacesetters on!

The FCC Gets Social

Why beat ’em when you can just join ’em? The Federal Communications Commission has announced plans to launch an internal on-line social forum for employees to engage and communicate regarding FCC activities. Steven VanRoekel, the managing director of the FCC, also happens to be a former Microsoft exec and is no stranger to on-line happenings. The internal network compliments more extroverted on-line activities: the FCC recently launched a blog and a Twitter feed. Eventually, the internal network will be opened up to outsiders at an undetermined future date.

Just waiting for the Facebook fan page to roll out.

Thinking About Law School? Check Out These Blogs!

A typical juris doctor diploma, here from Suff...
Image via Wikipedia

A good lawyer understands the importance and value of due diligence. OnLine Courses has compiled a list of 100 blog posts they believe you should read before going to law school. Topics include: getting in; getting started; paying for school; getting a job; getting through law school; making the most of the education offered; getting the skinny from those who have gone before; test taking; and lawyers, the law, career paths and opportunities.

I guess calling this list cursory would be an understatement and calling it comprehensive would be overstating the obvious!

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For Improved Typing Efficiency: iPhone Only

:Image:IPhone_Release_-_Seattle_(keyboard) cro...
Image via Wikipedia

Oh yes I most certainly do grapple with typing on the iPhone. So here is another option for improving the experience: TextExpander Touch allows you to save sections of text in a notes-like document for quick, repetitive insertion into email or other docs. While the lack of an autocorrect function makes it difficult to use as a drafting device, it works well as a macro-like tool for inserting addresses or frequently used passages, such as confidentiality clauses or other similar standard boilerplate, with a few keystrokes. It also interfaces with some iPhone twitter apps.

Check out the full review and screenshots at Art of the iPhone.

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Reshaping the Retweet

For those who Twitter, there is an interesting debate going on in the tech sphere about Twitter’s move towards formalizing an organic practice that has become one of the support beams of the Twitter experience: the retweet a/k/a “RT”. An RT is the copying and pasting of another’s tweet into your own tweet, preceded by the letters “RT.” It has long been used to point followers attention to items of interest and, more importantly, to curry favor with the person who posted the original message.

Twitter is a primitive service and has left most of the innovation and drafting of the rules of engagement to its user base and third party applications developers. Many of the original conventions evolved out of a very poor (read: nonexistent) search function. While a great deal of the original limitations have been resolved by Twitter, the RT remains a user convention with no set format. Until now.

Last week, Twitter stepped forward with the announcement that it will be supplying a button allowing users to automatically repost someone’s tweet. While this will certainly speed up the retweeting process, it also will limit other positive aspects of the former practice. The most notable omission appears to be the inability of the retweeter to edit the original tweet.

Tweets often contain links and RT’s often contain original tweets that contain links. I have seen it stated by so-called Twitter experts that RTs without some description as to why the link should be followed are less likely to encourage a click-through, in the same way tweets recommending that others follow another Twitter user are less effective without an explanation as to why the recommended user should be followed. The added text renders the RT more credible and can offer much-needed background to an ongoing conversation in Twitter’s highly disjointed medium. 

Furthermore, by removing the “RT” and original user name from the new tweet, it will be quite difficult to track who may have RT’d the original (or unoriginal but first-in-time) information. Tracking RT’s has become a popular means of determining a particular user’s social worth to the collective on-line information-churning hive. Other social services have embraced the RT and have employed RT’s and click-throughs in assessing such ephemeral qualities as “karma” or influence.

On the flip side, experts suggest that the new Twitter-sponsored format will make the practice easier and more accessible to a wider audience.

This debate is quite interesting from one of my perspectives – that of a user trying to grapple with how to best manipulate on-line tools to promote my own presence and practice. It is also interesting from my other perspective – that of a curious observer of human behavior and interaction in non-traditional environments. How will the new RT method affect users’ experience and communication habits? Will it affect that experience? Will users continue to employ the old traditions in order to maintain the benefits of that system or will users adopt the new button and innovate another method of tracking the value of a nugget of information and their overall worth? What do you think?

And while I am at it: how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop? The world may never know. 😉

Now Everyone Can Be Lazy If They Want To

Lazyfeed 2Got an email today from the fine folks at Lazyfeed and this is what it said:

Hi guys,

I am very excited to let you know that we are going live–yes, completely open–today.

Lazyfeed is open for everyone as of 10 am, August 25, pacific time.

We are currently indexing contents from various video sites, photo sites, and from about 1 million blogs, and it’s still growing.

Thank you for all your support. We received lots of great feedback and applied lots of them to the product. Some of the significant changes we’ve made since our first debut are:

1. Status Bar : We now have a status bar at the bottom of the page, which makes it easy to navigate. You can easily access “Topics for Lazy Me” and “Saved Stuff” from here.

2. Personalization : If you don’t want to see contents from certain sources, you can block them easily by using “block this source” feature.

3. Sharing : You can now share your interesting discoveries with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, and with Email. You only need one click to do this, so try it!

Also, we have created a new screencast recently. We tried to include some example use cases, so that you can use Lazyfeed more effectively. Please watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCse5Z4KaxY&feature=player_embedded

Anyway, please check out the new features and the video if you haven’t yet, and be sure to tell your friends about us if you like us. Thanks!

best,

Ethan Gahng

Lazy founder/CEO

Cool! For those who never got the original party invitation, its time to crash and get Lazy!

The Kindle Alternative

I have been waiting for the Plastic Logic and Irex eReaders to become widely available – I like their look and design much better than the Kindle.

The good news has been rolling in over the last couple of weeks: Irex and Plastic Logic and Barnes & Noble have teamed up to face the Kindle head-on in the eReader wars. The Irex / B & N offering appears focused as a direct competitor.  The Irex reader has a 8.1 inch touchscreen, a stylus and a 3G wireless connection. The identity of the wireless carrier has not yet been disclosed.

The Irex will take advantage of B & N’s larger selection of eBooks. Nice to have choices.

Hat Tip to ReadWriteWeb.