Never Underestimate The Power Of Editing!

In the simplest terms, the writer wants to get her words across as quickly and painlessly as possible. The editor wants to slow down that process and take care with each word used, each punctuation mark inserted, each paragraph placed. While we may vaguely nod in the direction of an editor and grudgingly concede that they can “help”, most of us would rather skip the “re-do”, particularly if the writer/editor relationship starts to resemble a game of Olympic ping-pong. Or, we may have such unwavering faith in our own ability to write (we made it through law school, didn’t we?) that we feel an editor would be surplus, an undesired cost without commensurate benefit.

As an editor, I couldn’t help but smile when I stumbled upon this article by James Mathewson , Editor in Chief for ibm.com, published at Digital Book World (link here) called How To Measure The Value Of Editors. The post was originally published at Writing for Digital (link here). Many aspects of his post tickled my fancy. I loved his examination of the Declaration of Independence, noting changes suggested by Thomas Jefferson’s venerable editing committee comprised of Ben Franklin and John Adams and the crucial switch from “subjects” to “citizens” in the drafts. The changes were uncovered using spectral technology, exposing smudged-out words and phrases. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

More importantly, I appreciated his example of how good editing can improve results – IBM conducted a study on whether editors add value to the process of web content publication and the extent of the value-add. From the post:

We took a sample of unedited pages with high traffic from across our various business units and ran them through Dave Harlan, the editing lead for the group that creates a lot of our marketing content. We then ran an A/B test, where we served the unedited versions to a random sample of users and the edited versions to the rest of the users. We then measured engagement (defined as clicks to desired links on the page) on those pages over the course of a month.

The results were astonishing.

The astonishing results to which Mathewson refers are a thirty percent improvement in click-throughs or “calls to action” on the pages treated by editors.

As an editor, I firmly believe that my services improve the overall quality of a written product. But now I have the “scientific” proof. If you want to fully leverage the value of content publication, consider running your writing past the objective eyes of an editor. You won’t be sorry with the results.

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TGIF, TTFN, Etc.

Yes, this is REALLY where I am going.

It’s time here in the Studio to take my annual summer break. I am off for a week of sun, sand, and relaxation. Maybe view a gorgeous, ocean-kissed sunset. Maybe enjoy a kid-free dinner under the stars. Maybe quaff a few cocktails on the deck. Take a walk in the sand at the crack of dawn. Sit on the beach and take a nap. I might even engage in recreational reading  (gasp!). In any event, I will be primarily unplugging and that means no Studio posts for about a week or so.

Hope the Internets have a lovely week. I know I am going to!

BranchOut Yields Facebook Fruit

Facebook is for friends and LinkedIn is for professional networking, right? WRONG! New service BranchOut (link here) offers means to leverage your Facebook friends on a professional level.

BranchOut is an application built on Facebook that makes it easy to locate professional information about your friends and, if they have installed the app, their friends too.

Install the app and search a company name. The results show which of your Facebook friends do work there or have worked there.

BranchOut currently is offering free job listings directly to your network for 30 days, but intends to open up job listings to everyone for $30 per month in the near future. With both professional networking connection information and job listings, this app is sounding a lot like LinkedIn, Facebook-style.

I haven’t yet tried the app, so I can’t really provide more detail than available in the Techcrunch article that broke news of the service (link here). But, if it works half as good as suggested, this sounds like a great new way to get those Facebook friend connections to bear a little fruit of the green variety.

JD Supra & LinkedIn: Together At Last

Certain things just go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Burns and Allen. When I learned about the new JD Supra application (link here) to be integrated into LinkedIn ‘s ecosystem, I could hardly contain my excitement.

Starting today, you as JD Supra contributor will be able to upload, publish, manage and spread your documents to your LinkedIn network and the greater community. You as LinkedIn member can enable the JD Supra application within LinkedIn and get targeted legal content streamed to your feed, where you can collect and share the most relevant information with your network. Without having to lift a finger, you the real estate professional can get JD Supra real estate documents, you the securities broker can get JD Supra securities law publications, and you the technology start-up can get JD Supra intellectual property law updates streamed to you. In essence, JD Supra and LinkedIn have created the first, targeted, legal information network within the world’s largest professional social network.

Building a JD Supra / LinkedIn application is no small feat. Unlike social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, where the API is open to any and all developers interested in building on the community, LinkedIn is a closed environment, carefully guarded and walled. That doesn’t stop professionals from leveraging the community, creating profiles, networking with other like-minded professionals, forming and joining professional groups, asking questions and engaging in discussions. LinkedIn has over 70 million members worldwide, and is widely considered one of the top three places to network generally and the number one network for business use specifically.

Which is why I have always pondered the beauty of a connection between these two professional services. Up until now, LinkedIn has allowed into its system a limited number of third party apps (link here):  Box.net (filesharing and collaboration); Slideshare (slide presentations); Blog Link (connecting your blog); LinkedIn Polls; Events; Huddle Workspaces (online collaboration space); SAP Community Bio (SAP qualifications/profile enhancement); Company Buzz (Twitter activity associated with your company); Reading List by Amazon; Google Presentation (another presentation display tool); Tripit’s My Travel (displays upcoming travel); WordPress (connect your WordPress blog); and, Tweets (show your Twitter stream).

These apps are all great at what they do, but most of them primarily afford members the ability to “hot rod” his or her profile with content. They are more “outward facing” tools. The JD Supra application has that too – you can load your JD Supra content onto your LinkedIn profile and get noticed.

What makes the JD Supra / LinkedIn union even more interesting is the application’s creation of a vast information repository for LinkedIn members, an inward streaming resource that brings content from JD Supra contributors to potentially interested LinkedIn members based on their profile metadata. This presents a unique opportunity for JD Supra contributors to tap an already interested audience and expand their influence and network.

App users will automatically get feeds of interest, but also have manual control over the information streamed into their home page news feed. They can subscribe to a particular JD Supra content stream or publisher. They can mark items as favorites and store them in a “file” for later consumption. Or they can “share” key documents with individuals, their network or their groups.

Think about it: you upload a survey on Blue Sky laws into JD Supra; JD Supra does its metadata magic and your survey is published out to the news feeds of LinkedIn members using the JD Supra app and who have securities metadata in their profiles. Then they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, …. And, there is a networking link on documents so viewers interested in connecting with JD Supra contributors can do so right from the document. Instant networking connection!

Check out an AdvantageAdvocates document from JD Supra page as viewed within LinkedIn below:

Buttons allow you to click over to AdvantageAdvocates’ LinkedIn profile, add AdvantageAdvocates documents to your feed, recommend the document, share the document or star the document as a favorite. There is also a link to find out more about the category with which this particular document is tagged – Law Firm Marketing.

But it’s not all about the document viewer. There is great functionality for JD Supra contributors within LinkedIn as well. You can see from the tabs on the JD Supra / LinkedIn page that I can almost completely manage my documents from within LinkedIn. For account management tasks that can’t be addressed within LinkedIn, I get directed back to JD Supra. Over the document-specific button functions are your main JD Supra app functions via tabs: home; browse; portfolio; favorites; feeds; account; and, upload. Yes, upload. I can even load documents to JD Supra now via LinkedIn! Talk about getting all your errands done at one stop!

The functionality of this perfect union is probably the finest example of perceiving a need and meeting it head on and then some within the LinkedIn ecosystem. LinkedIn saw the value of it and approached JD Supra with the idea of working together, and this application is the result. Great foresight, LinkedIn.

I would go so far as to say that everyone on LinkedIn should load this app – if you want expertise flowing to you before you even need it or if you are even remotely interested in staying up to date on developments in your particular business sphere. And, for JD Supra members, I see no better way to give content to and get noticed by the very on-line community you most wish to address.

Congratulations to JD Supra and LinkedIn on a job well done. And thanks to Aviva Cuyler and Adrian Lurssen at JD Supra for giving me a walk-through of the shiny new app. What will they think of next?

 

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Hot Damn! My Own iPhone App!

By George, I think I have finally done it! After splitting time between my Windows and Mac machines and iPhone, I finally got an Ad Hoc version of my very own, personal, AdvantageAdvocates iPhone app working like a charm! The app, created with the web tool AppMakr (link here) and aptly called Advocate, brings together all of my content streams in one nicely-designed package. If you enjoy Studio tech posts, Advocate tech article shares, my tech tweets and mobile app reviews, then this App’s for you! And it’s going to cost my favorite number: free.

I went through this process in order to complete the exercise of completing an app design, rather than to make a developer name for myself. When I ran into snags (and there were a few), I used AppMakr’s support forums and kept them apprised of glitches. To their credit, they responded beautifully, fixing issues and clearing the way for Luddites such as myself to finish the product.

Wanna see some screen shots? Here is the icon on the page:

Here is the splash screen:

Here is The Studio blog feed:

If you click on a link in that view, this is what you will see:

The little arrow above the image is the actual audio link to the NPR broadcast, preserved from my blog post! Click and the audio plays! (can you tell I am all excited?)

This is my Studio Tweets screen:

There are sharing links from each individual entry in all screens. This is the sharing link from a Tweet:

Studio Web includes my shares from Google Reader. I have a huge Reader library and like to share the great stuff I find in there. It is always articles with a legal, tech and/or professional bent. It’s like having your own personal tech / pro research assistant reading and pulling the cool stuff so you don’t have to.

An individual share entry looks like this:

The Studio apps button has all of my mobile app reviews from MobileAppOfTheDay. Here is the individual app entry for today (you would scroll down on the app screen to get all of the images and review):

It works flawlessly and really looks pretty darn great. I used my own artwork for the header image, icon image and splash screen, but AppMakr allows you to browse the Web or your own hard drive for images to use, with helpful tips on how to size them properly.

No one can say that creating an app for a mobile device is a quick and simple process. But I have to say that it can’t be that bad – if I can do it, anyone can do it with a little tenacity. AppMakr certainly makes the job a whole lot easier.

Stay tuned to the Studio for information on when the App goes live in the App Store. Next stop: Android App Creator!

Rediscover LinkedIn & Speed Up Your Happy Accidents

Everyone’s heard of LinkedIn, right? There are more than 70 million of you out there with a LinkedIn profile. But do you ever do anything with that profile or avail yourself of the benefits that profile entails? With all the social networks and the demands on one’s Web time, LinkedIn is often forgotten among the fury of Twitter and the friend-connections and fun on Facebook. But it’s an untapped resource that should command a bit more of your attention if you have professional or business development aspirations to your Web-activity.

Check out this video – it will only take a couple minutes of your time, but presents a decent case for why you should consider spending more time on the number one professional network:

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Manage Discovery from iPhone / iPad with iClearwell

I don’t usually chat about e-discovery tools here in the Studio, as it is a topic of conversation that could fill its own blog on a daily basis. But when e-discovery goes portable, this is news I need to talk about! Clearwell (link here) delivers a popular enterprise-class e-discovery management solution. Directed at corporations and law firms, it assists in meeting legal, regulatory, and investigative requirements in connection with document retention from a single application. And now, you can bring it with you.

iClearwell (link here) is the remote application for iPhone or iPad that allows you to interface with the main Clearwell application. While it is only of benefit to those already using Clearwell’s product, the fact that the company recognized and filled a need for remote access and control is forward-thinking, in my humble opinion. The mobile apps allow access, configuration, and views of the status of cases and servers. Remote users can manage case lists on services, monitor the status of processsing, view statistics for each case and control task execution. They can also view system or case settings, tasks and users or data sources.

iClearwell promises it is as easy to use as its main application counterpart. I have not used either, so I cannot speak to the claims of ease of use. But I do love the idea of being able to manage such heavyweight tasks on an iPad or iPhone.  Bring it on!

When 15-Day-Old News Is Too Old

How frequently do you use Google’s Advance Search function to ensure that you are getting the most recent information on a subject? I’ll answer that – pretty much every time I do a Google Search. And every time that I do a search that way, I curse the fact that I have to perform three extra clicks to make sure I am getting the latest and greatest information, particularly on ever-changing subjects, like technology.

In true Web 2.0 style, when there is a need, there will shortly be an answer. Check out NowRelevant (link here) –  a search engine designed for advertisers that leverages The Internet Time Machine to ensure that all results date back no further than 14 days from the date of query.

The Internet Time Machine software is a set of cloud computers linked to monitor supply and demand curves in search engines and online communities. The impetus behind the idea is finding new ideas and products that people are talking about and looking for, but unable to locate. For the casual user or researcher, this means very fresh discussions on your topic of choice.

NowRelevant was introduced in beta form in early May, 2010. It must be onto something, because shortly thereafter, Google introduce time filters in its sidebar, which are only accessible after your enter your search result. Tsk, tsk, still adding that extra step, Google.

Apparently, the quality of results is improved as well. The results filter out spam, SEO dummy sites and other forms of clutter. Per founder Curt Dalton:

“Another definite advantage we have over Google is that we have 0.0% junk sites in our organic results, end of story…. Nowhere on any other search engine are there as fresh and relevant results from blogs, mailing lists, and newsgroups as what we have. We cover millions of sources and have over 67,000 PR6+ blogs that we index daily.”

Check it out – you will definitely see a difference when you search your terms in Google and compare them to your results in NowRelevant. At the very least, NowRelevant should serve as an effective redundant search to ensure that you are getting the best, most recent information on your inquiries. Check out Mr. Dalton’s explanation and pitch below:

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The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Books

With all apologies to Shakespeare and Ray Bradbury, I am not talking Fahrenheit 451 here. I am talking the new Engineering Library, opening this August, at Stanford U, now with 85% fewer books! Apparently, the reduction is due in some measure to lack of interest – many volumes hadn’t been checked out in five years or more. To combat literary overcrowding, the new library will be lean and mean with 10,000 physical volumes representing the library’s most popular books, compared to the prior, more than 80,000 dusty tomes crowding the shelves. The materials will still be available in searchable, digitized form and brows-able from laptop or “other” mobile device.

Library administrators foresee a time when the library will hold no physical books at all. Engineering is a rapidly changing field. Thus, the material upon which engineers rely must change quickly. Sound familiar, lawyers? Faculty already embrace e-books, which are more responsive to these changes. And faculty and library staff can see how students’ interactions with material have changed dramatically, as new students rely more heavily on virtual information for  reading, research and composition.

Stanford is not alone in this. Quoting from the NPR Digital Life article (link here), where I found this story:

And while it’s still rare among American libraries to get rid of such a large amount of books, it’s clear that many are starting to lay the groundwork for a different future. According to a survey by the Association of Research Libraries, American libraries are spending more of their money on electronic resources and less on books.

Lawyers, law librarians, and legal publishers, take heed. The paper book, as a research or reference device, may well be on its way out and practitioners will welcome the ability to scan and search treatises online. It’s the wave of the future.

You can listen to the NPR story here:

NPR Digital Life

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BuzzVoice Reads the News To You

Technology provides the means for multi-tasking, there is no doubt about it. How about having your news and blogs read to you while your eyes are busy with another task? Check out BuzzVoice (link here), a free and paid Web service that collects the news and blogs that you are interested in and converts them in real time via text to speech so that you can listen to them in the car, at the doctor’s office, while waiting for your Motion to be heard in Court, etc.

BuzzVoice works on your iPhone, iPod touch, regular iPods/MP3 players, and computer, so your listening options are quite varied. But its not just listening – you can share your talking stories with friends via email and on the usual social networking haunts. Create a personalized playlist from 57 categories and over 1,600 top blogs and news sources. If you can’t find your faves, let BuzzVoice know and they will try to add them.

The free service is ad supported, with up to 20 playlist sources, ten minute daily Buzzcast episodes, BuzzRadio which streams stations of continuous content, and daily Buzz Alerts. The Pro version, $4.99 per month,  includes all of that plus 100 sources for your playlist, full 30 minute daily Buzzcasts, selectable times and voices for your Buzzcast, and no ads.

If you are a news junkie with no time, BuzzVoice might be attractive to you. And, with the ability to listen via computer and Web, iPhone or iPod Touch or MP3 player, options for consuming the news just got a lot broader.