Something New From West: Drafting Assistant

West might be onto something with this idea. Drafting Assistant, being introduced by West at Legal Tech New York as we speak, offers a suite of tools that integrate with your word processing system of choice (Word or WordPerfect), to pull in legal research, discovery material, deposition transcripts, case analysis along with other drafting tools peculiar to the legal trade. Drafting Assistant will reduce the number of steps a lawyer has to take to get all of the information pulled together for a finished product. For example, from the press release:

For example, the Locate Authority feature can identify the best case to support an argument that an attorney has just crafted, using trusted Westlaw research and without breaking the writer’s chain of thought. To quickly find and cite from a transcript or discovery document, Drafting Assistant can search and access all case-related information contained within West Case Notebook. With just a few mouse clicks, paralegals can save hours or even days, using tools that check the validity of cases cited, insert links to case law and correctly format documents and citations to comply with jurisdictional rules.

Drafting Assistant is but one tool within an integrated suite of tools, services and content called Westlaw Litigator. The suite includes:

• Westlaw CaseLogistix – document review and production tools
• West Case Notebook – legal research, case analysis and transcript management
• LiveNote Stream – live remote streaming of deposition audio, video and transcript text
• West Case Timeline – graphically displays important events in a case
• West Publisher – bundling & sharing of transcripts, related exhibits and other documents
• West km – leverages the internal work product and intellectual capital of a firm
• Westlaw Roundtable Group — helps find the perfect expert tailored to the exact needs of a case
• West CourtExpress — retrieves court or agency documents quickly and accurately
• Westlaw Expert Center – searches and profiles expert witnesses

But of course, this suite integrates with the toney WestlawNext service. I shudder to think what the price of this Cadillac, no make that Maybach-worthy suite of digital surgeon’s instruments will set an intrepid lawyer back. Ah well, kudos to West for taking legal tech a step forward into the future, even if the cost makes you want to jump back a bit.

Press release found here.

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Wikipedia's Gender Gap. Revisited

A couple of year’s ago, I wrote this blog’s most popular post: “I Finally Figured Out What Is Wrong With Wikipedia.” The crux of the article was a study showing that only about 13% of contributors were women. Obviously, a curated encyclopedia of supposed educational content with such a disparity of contributorship can’t possibly cover all the angles.

Fast forward to today, and an article from Sunday’s New York Times reveals Wikipedia is still struggling under the weight of the same deficit. Sue Gardner, Director of the Wikimedia Foundation has set a laudable goal for herself: increase female contributorship to 25% by 2015, but she recognizes some steep obstacles.

Not the least of which is what is perceived to be women’s aversion to conflict, an exercise found in abundance in the Wikipedia world, with roots in hacker mentalities and argument-fueled, semi-anonymous discourse that pervades the entire on-line world in abundance. Men, supposedly, feed off this conflict, while women are turned away from it.

Gardner also cites the massive disparities in quantities of writing pertaining to issues of interest to women compared to issues of interest to men. Although a somewhat banal example, check out the Wikipedia entries for the television shows “Sex In The City” and “The Sopranos” to get a sense of the interest divide.

Normally, I find myself accustomed to such divides, but the numbers relative to Wikipedia make me squirm: a sizable percentage of online researchers stop there first, and the number of adults who use the site to look for information has nearly doubled from 2007 to 2010.

How to fix this? I am not certain. Although I don’t normally shy away from conflict (I am a lawyer after all), I feel that the burden of time is my enemy here. I simply don’t have enough of it to spend creating new articles of interest to women or updating and expanding existing articles. However, maybe it is time to put a bit of effort in. Maybe we female Internet authors should pay a bit more attention to the single most popular research resource on the Web, if for no other reason to get our voices out there as authorities and to beef up those topics that interest and affect us. Perhaps if we build it, they will come.

What IS the Internet Anyway?

People are still grappling with the concept, but I think we might have a better grasp than poor Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric did. What is it? A giant computer billboard? You can decide for yourself, while you check out their hilarious struggle with the meaning of life, the Universe and the Internet waay waay back in 1994. Before even Google was created:

Just How Big is Big? The Internet

Focus, by way of Mashable, has a cool infographic called The State of the Internet, pulling together data, facts and figures on the enormous, amorphous Web from 2010. Can you say 2 billion videos watched on YouTube, each day? I didn’t think you could. Pretty darn fascinating just how much of our lives lives “up there.”

Qwiki & PostPost – Two Great Consumption Tools

I have been playing around with a couple of web tools and thought I might share with the class. Both offer filters, or perhaps lenses, for content with a focus on presentation.

The first one is Qwiki, a tool that has been in closed alpha testing for a while, but has just been released to the public. Qwiki bills itself as a multi-media search engine, but I see it as more of a visually stunning wiki tool. Visit Qwiki and you will find the usual search box. A nice touch – suggested results show below your typed term offering you options. Qwiki includes more than 3 million reference terms, mostly nouns such as people, places, and things. Enter a term and receive an “information experience” – a selection of videos, photographs, maps, and more, as well as links to related topics. You get a narration and scrolling text of the “answer” to your query running throughout the video / slideshow. Share the Qwiki you happen to be viewing via social media links, email it, or embed it in another site. The wiki part for me was being prompted via button at the top to “improve” the Qwiki, such as suggesting video and images that might go with the subject matter. Combining user-participation with such a stunning experience is intriguing. It is SO science fiction. While Qwiki might have limited appeal now, due to its smallish database, imagine its impact when it can access a database of information the size of Wikipedia. And, consider “reading” the morning news on your smartphone with a Qwiki interface. Businesses and professionasl should run and not walk to Qwiki to develop their own brand – what a great way to leverage web presence in an information environment. Not so far-fetched and definitely appealing.

The second is PostPost – a social newspaper for Facebook users. Do you like Flipboard? Do you like Facebook? Then you will probably enjoy PostPost. The “real time” social newspaper is Web-based. Simply log in with your Facebook credentials, authorize the free app, wait a moment, and get a really nice magazine of your friends’ Facebook content. The page will show links, photos, and videos, offering an experience akin to paper.li’s treatment of Twitter. This is meant to serve as a real-time layout, with intelligent grouping of similar content, making it easier to read and share. You can control the experience by moving content between sections and change the size of the newspaper. Filter and block what you don’t want to see and emphasize what you do want to see. A real boon for large friend lists or overactive sharers.

Either way you slice it, making content more visually appealing and stimulating will improve retention and enhance consumption. Both Qwiki and PostPost are aiming to do just that. Check it out and check back in with your comments!

Feedly for iPhone – It's Here, It's Finally Here!!!

Content manipulators rejoice! Your favorite web extension for Google Reader, Feedly, has finally made its long-awaited debut on the iPhone (link here)! And, in a word, it ROCKS!

I have covered Feedly and the promised iPhone version many times here in the Studio. Apps come and go, but Feedly has been a constant companion ever since I started reading RSS and blogging and I couldn’t live without it. Feedly is a browser extension that works in Firefox, Chrome and Safari (I have it in all three browsers) that syncs with your Google Reader account – your GReader stories are pulled by Feedly and actions taken in either GReader or Feedly are reflected in the other service. Feedly wins with an outstanding magazine-style layout, relevance weighting of news articles based on your reading and sharing habits and very simple to use tools for saving, sharing, commenting, and otherwise playing with the great stories found among Feedly’s greatest hits.  You can display the latest updates from feeds, blogs, and sites like Facebook and Twitter – pretty much anything with an RSS feed you can subscribe to in Reader. Feedly integrates with Delicious, Amazon.com, YouTube, and other sites as well, showing that content alongside the news stories. It offers numerous ways to add, filter, display, mark, and share content. Ultimately, Feedly delivers your own personal magazine digest of everything you’re interested in, or might be interested in, since Feedly also does a good job of suggesting content.

I have longed for the iPhone version for quite some time and, following a tip on the Feedly blog, I was able to secure an advance copy of the iPhone app last fall.  I have been playing with it ever since.

Up front, Feedly for iPhone is not the full-function Feedly web, nor should it be. The mobile app gets to the very heart of what I use Feedly for – blowing through the top content in my Google Reader folders, save what I want, share what I want and mark the content read. Feedly for iPhone also takes full advantage of the iPhone’s tactile interface, with swiping right or left to access the story headlines, swiping up or down to mark read or unread.

The app shows the digest of all articles, most recent articles, featured sources (what Feedly thinks you should read), the most popular items from the Feedly community and saved items.  The deeper you delve into one of your Feedly categories, the less recent the story. You can like items with the thumbs up and mark the entire feed read by clicking the check mark at the bottom.

There is no faster way for me to wade through my Google Reader streams than Feedly and I find it even faster on the iPhone. Plus, there is the “here and now” factor of having the app on the phone so that I can read and share a little when I am between events or meetings on the go.

Developer and founder Ed Khodabakchian has been very accessible and responsive to comments and suggestions on the interface. They really seem dedicated to providing the best possible experience with this app and it shows.

If you use Google Reader, then you owe it to yourself to try Feedly. If you are an iPhone user (or iPad user  – it works on that too with the 2x zoom), you can get a very full Feedly experience in the mobile domain. And, if you are an Android user, don’t despair – the Android client is coming soon to a mobile phone near you!

What Will They Think Of Next? Print From Gmail Via Your Phone

Google, ever vigilant with respect to the ways and means for improving its products and the mobile interface, is now offering its Cloud Print functionality from your mobile phone. You still need a computer, but you can direct printing from your phone, via that computer, to your connected printer. Simply power up Gmail via mobile and Cloud Print you are most of the way there. Before you can get the goods, you need to connect your primary printing PC (Windows for now and Mac OSX and Linux coming soon) to Cloud Print. Then, got to gmail.com from your iPhone or Android browser and choose “Print” from the dropdown menu in the top right corner. You can print certain email attachments as well, (such as .pdf or .doc) – simply click the “Print” link that appears next to them.

Right now, this is available US English only. Its rolling out, so keep checking back. How cool is THAT? Check out more in the  Google Cloud Print help center.

Via the  Official Gmail Blog.

Wowza! Microsoft OneNote for iPhone! Christmas already?

I didn’t see THAT one coming! Just glanced over at my reader and caught this awesome bit of news for lovers of iPhones and MS OneNote, a Venn diagram that until recently showed very little area of intersection. I haven’t written about my deep and abiding admiration for OneNote in a while, but I have in fact crowed about it in the Studio before (link). OneNote, originally a powerful desktop note taking and organizational tool with amazing editing, search and collaboration features, made its way to the cloud via Microsoft’s Skydrive about six months ago (link). Now, through God-knows-what-sort-of-unholy-alliance, you can get OneNote on your iPhone free (for a limited time), with automatic sync and backup via the cloud-based SkyDrive. It bears noting that there is no native Mac application for OneNote, making this news all the more surreal.

For those unfamiliar with OneNote, I took the liberty of copying the description provided by Microsoft in the App Store for its shiny new app:

Microsoft OneNote Mobile is the easy-to-use, powerful note-taking application for all of your ideas, brought to you by Microsoft Office. OneNote Mobile lets you create and view notes and lists whenever you need them. Sync your notes with free Windows Live online storage and access them from virtually anywhere using your phone, PC, or almost any web browser.

With OneNote Mobile, you can:
▪ Create flexible notes that can include text, pictures, bullets, and checkboxes ▪ Check To Do items off on the go▪ Save time with quick access to your most recent notes▪ Work with confidence—OneNote Mobile automatically syncs your notes with Windows Live in the background▪ Organize your notes into sections or create new notebooks using OneNote 2010 or OneNote Web App and access them from your iPhone

Although Microsoft has other iPhone apps already, this is the first app I know of that directly relates to a paid Microsoft software product within its venerable Office suite.

From the chatter on the Web, it appears that the auto sync update via SkyDrive may not yet be working and is being addressed by Microsoft. I didn’t let that little glitch bother me – I have my app downloaded and can’t wait to dig in. Any edge Evernote may have had on OneNote based on its portability may now be gone!

I ❤ OneNote + iPhone!

UPDATE : the SkyDrive sync is working – simply log in via the app to your Windows Live account.

Speakertext Does Just What It Sounds Like

There is a tool for everything, including a tool for extracting text from video and reaping the benefits of it. Need a transcript of that YouTube video or a way to improve your video search SEO? Check out Speakertext.  Speakertext recognizes that, while multi-media draws people to the Web, the Web was designed with text in mind. When we search, we can only access the text associated with that media. Fine for tags and descriptions, but not so good for the actual content of a video presentation. Speakertext converts that video into easily-searched text-based content, all gussied up for the search engines. To add to the fun, when you convert a video to Speakertext and quote a portion of that text, the embeddable link will then bring you right back to the place in the video where the text occurred. From the searcher’s standpoint, Speakertext is a real boon as it will allow you to find the precise place in a video where your desired information may reside. Clicking back and forth between text and video creates more links, more hits and greater visibility. And, Speakertext allows you to “watch” videos without sound – with scrolling text running alongside the images for those times when reading is better than listening. They have a lot to offer for the video-heavy content publisher:

Videotext

Video-to-Text

SpeakerText combines artificial and human intelligence to offer low-cost, high-quality video transcription. Once you connect SpeakerText to a video hosting platform––we currently support BrightcoveYouTube and Blip.tv––SpeakerText automatically downloads your videos, turns them into text and loads the text onto your website.
Meta

Video Metadata
and XML Sitemaps

SpeakerText analyzes each video transcript to create descriptive metadata. These meta-tags are placed on your website and used to create XML sitemaps so that your videos are indexed by video-specific search engines.
Autoupdate

Automatic Updating

SpeakerText automatically updates the text on your webpage and loads it into the SpeakerBar as soon as the transcript is ready.

Speakerbar

The SpeakerBar

Once a video has been transcribed, SpeakerText loads an interactive transcript player beneath each video. Dubbed the SpeakerBar, this player allows visitors to use the text as an interactive controller for the video. Visitors can use the SpeakerBar to search and navigate within the video as well as share video quotes on Facebook and Twitter that link back to the video.
Plugin

Transcript Hosting

SpeakerText stores your video transcripts in the cloud using the über reliable Amazon Web Services where they can be accessed server-side via API, ready-made scripts or our nifty WordPress plugin. This text is indexed by Google and other search engines for SEO.

Good for Speakertext, offering a free service to get someone started. There are relatively reasonable per month plans that add features and scope. Check out their pricing here. Right now, it works with at least YouTube, Blip.TV and Brightcove. I can think of all sorts of uses for this tool – particularly if you are someone who embeds or creates a lot of video content to support your on-line marketing efforts. If you don’t, Speakertext might convince you that it could be well worth your effort to add this dimension to your arsenal. Cool tool!

Use Hunch To Power Personal Recommendations

It gets exciting when the computers start getting smarter than the concierge at the Park Hyatt. Hunch is seeking to prove that evolution. Hunch bills itself as a “taste graph” of the Web personlized to your specific interests. In essence, Hunch offers a decision engine powered by your own preferences and behaviors on Hunch’s site as well as other, linked sites. The more you use Hunch, the more it learns about you, the better it can answer questions like “what is the next car I should buy?”

It all started as a machine learning experiment by a bunch of MIT-ers. Hunch, the current iteration of the machine, improves its IQ through community participation in the site, as well as your own interactions with it. Hunch strives to provide users with an “educated” response akin to what a panel of knowledgeable experts might provide or hours of internet searching might yield. From the site:

Contributions can take many forms. When Hunch makes a recommendation, it will also show you why it proposed what it did. If you disagree with some of the reasoning, you can correct it. If you think Hunch missed asking a crucial question, you can submit one. And if you think Hunch is missing a good result, you can add that, too. Hunch collects and organizes all this input so that it becomes smarter for the next user.

You start by answering twenty random questions so that Hunch can establish a “taste” profile for you. You get some off the cuff suggestions, which I found pretty strikingly on the mark. As you work within the site, you, as a user, refine questions and topics, making them smarter, and in turn, Hunch smarter. The more questions you answer and topics you explore, the better Hunch will do for you. You can respond to Hunch’s suggestions with your own critique as to their usefulness to you, which further aids the process. So, there is certainly a human element to the education, but this element is fed into the machine to feed the process.

For what it is worth, I kept answering until I had blown through about 50 questions. Hunch then recommended to me that I read the New Yorker Magazine (my favorite) and watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus (yes, I can probably quote better than 50 percent of the lines).

Hunch has to appeal to the masses, so you can follow others and there are ways to increase your social cred within the community and earn badges. All trappings aside, the idea that my computer can help me quickly solve the mundane and the more meaty questions seems very intriguing. Bing is seeking billing as a “decision engine”, but uses human curation to aid its process. And, while Quora opens the door to problem solving via a wiki-like community, it too rests on a human foundation. Hunch is offering to do the same with powerful algorithms supporting its decision engine. Fast forward a handful of years when the machines get more and more fine-tuned and we are turning to engines like Hunch to suggest service professionals (who have maintained enough of a web presence to hit the engine’s radar).

Man or Machine? Not sure yet, jury’s still out, but if you hear me asking Hal to open the Pod Bay doors, and suggest a mixed drink to serve at my next cocktail party, you might suspect I am following my Hunch.