An RSS Feed for Legal Apps

 

Back in the day, specialized applications for law were few. Not so much anymore. If you want to stay on top of the latest and greatest applications to support your legal practice, check out Mobile Apps for Law’s site and RSS feed. The site promises legal research and utility apps for all devices. In addition to the RSS feed, which delivers new inclusions straight to your RSS reader of choice, the site itself is searchable. Using boolean search, keywords and fields, you can find by application subject and/or device, and limit to recently updated apps. You will need to subscribe to the to see full search results, though.

Or, you can use the new RSS feed. The free feed provides information on the latest mobile apps releases for legal research and utilities. The feed gives information on each app that is newly added to the database, which apparently includes over 900 mobile apps. Click the app title and view the full information on the app maintained in the database. Not a bad way to stay up to date on the latest legal-mobile tech.

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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!

The Good, The Bad & The Truncated

Now HERE is a novel concept in information consumption: applying liposuction to your news feeds. Thanks to Techcrunch, I became acquainted this morning with TLDR.it – a web app that shrinks long form news articles and RSS feeds into shorter versions containing only the salient(?) points. You can choose whether your abstract is short, medium, or long, but certainly the return will not be as long as the original article.

The app was built in 48 hours, a testament to the developer Jeremy McAnaly’s need for speed. Indeed, the app bills itself as “a.d.d. approved news reading.”

You can either enter the feed or the URL in search-styled boxes, or you use their bookmarklet to summarize any page you happen to linger on. Then you get a synopsis of the feed or URL, with options to see the short, medium or long versions, as well as the original source in full.

I couldn’t resist – I had to run Advocate’s Studio through Willie Wonka’s Mike TeeVee treatment and see what came out. The TLDR.it algorithm picked up on my second post about getting Studio content  at various web locales. (maybe it thought my top article was already the picture of brevity). If you read the content post, you will see that it was eight or so fairly meaty paragraphs. This is what tldr.it returned:

Visiting the page is cool because I have fitted out the blog with some extra material in the widgets and blog bar – you can get my Mobile App of the Day reviews in the sidebar along with my shares on Lazyfeed and Friendfeed and links to some of my other web profiles via my Retaggr card – I tend to spread my sharing out over many services, so that no one particular place has everything.

The long version contains approximately double the wordage as the short version, picking up pretty much where the short version left off. While this information is contained somewhere in the middle of the post, I cannot really say how the algorithm arrived at the “conclusion” that  this was the “meat”  of the post. Thus, I cannot really say that tldr.it returns the most salient points of the article.

Nonetheless, much like Cliff Notes, some information is better than no information, if for no other reason than giving you the appearance of having actually read the full work. I guess, with TLDR.it, you have to take the good with the bad.

Sifting Twitter Links with SiftLinks

When you want the links, the whole links and nothing but the links from your Twitter follows, there is a better way to find them than simply reading your entire 500+ person Twitter stream for every post with a shortened URL. James Constable has created SiftLinks, a stripped-down application that pulls all of the links from your Twitter stream, converts them to RSS, and sends them to your feed reader of choice. Some people do not particularly like reading their “news” via RSS reader, but for those of us who do, SiftLinks is a nifty tool to futher refine your quest for newsworthy material among the flotsam and jetsam (sorry, just wanted to write those words this morning).

If you fall into the former category and REALLY want to get funky, try feeding the RSS feed full of stripped out links from your reader program back into a dedicated Twitter account. Then load Flipboard onto your iPad, add the Twitter account to your list of sources, and see all of the links displayed magazine style on your 9″ x 7″ screen. Shiny!

Hat tip on SiftLinks to Jane Hart at Jane’s Pick Of The Day (link here).

Warp (Real-Time) Speed, Mr. Sulu: RSSCloud Brings The Heat

Without having to so much as lift a finger, the Studio will now be coming to some RSS subscribers at real-time speed! In the wake of challenges to the continuing validity of RSS  and feed readers in the real-time world of Twitter, Friendfeed and Facebook, WordPress has announced that its WordPress.com accounts will be taking advantage of RSSCloud to distribute blog posts as they happen. The reader must be enabled to support RSSCloud and there are now two such services offering this lightning fast blogging love: River 2 and Lazyfeed.

Under traditional feed protocol, it can take as long as an hour or more between the time a post is “published” and the time the post is distributed to feed readers. RSSCloud cuts that lag time down to nil. Now blogs can reenter the information distribution fray, offering a richer experience than Twitter at the same instantaneous delivery time. In effect, RSSCloud will speed up Twitter too – tweets very often consist of the stuff gleaned via RSS feeds. Get the information through RSS faster and the entire on-line news pipeline speeds up!

I have always preferred receiving my information via RSS and readers and have been willing to put up with the time delay in exchange for noise filtering. Now I can have my cake and eat it too!

Beam me up, Scotti!

Friendfeed for Lawyers

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

I have had a love affair with Friendfeed for more than six months now. Upon joining the aggregator / streaming service, I immediately used its tools to find and follow the people I had already connected with on other services. One of my services, Twitter, utilizes a follow list that is 90% lawyers. So I was pleased to find that a healthy number of these tech-aware lawyers had found Friendfeed before me, opened an account and were feeding already. I followed them all.

I quickly learned that the lawyers I follow on Friendfeed primarily send in their Twitter tweets and, maybe, a blog entry and, if they are really avant-guarde, some Google Reader items. There was no interaction between these lawyers and others on Friendfeed and their material quickly sped through the feed and was soon forgotten. So, I asked myself, why are these lawyers on Friendfeed?

The better question is: why should these lawyers be on Friendfeed? Consider this humble post a primer on Friendfeed, what it is and and the value it represents.

A good place to start is an explanation of what Friendfeed is. At its heart, Friendfeed is indeed an aggregator of one’s on-line content, a place to feed into a single stream all of the material one creates and shares on-line. The list of shareable items is exhaustive – take a look at the screenshot below and remember that Friendfeed is adding services all the time.

Friendfeed services

Needless to say, one can paint a thorough picture of one’s on-line life using Friendfeed as an aggregator.

Why aggregate? You can use Friendfeed as a personal content scrapbook, a one-stop shopping destination for all of your on-line hang-outs. You can find all of your Delicious links, your blog posts, your Stumbles, your Twitter posts in one space. You can find your Amazon likes, your Facebook and Linkedin statuses, your Google reader items and even your Pandora favorites. You can post video likes from YouTube and personal video conversations from Seesmic.

With respect to Twitter posts, a key benefit of Friendfeed that beats Twitter is the ability to easily search or filter your Twitter entries with a simple click of a button and ALL of your tweets will appear. On Twitter, you have to rely on a semi-reliable search function and tweets are only archived for a few days.

Click on your Friendfeed name and you will see your entire stream of on-line activity. And, for most services, your on-line content shows up fairly quickly in the Friendfeed stream. Finally, it bears noting that Google searches like Friendfeed almost as much as they like Twitter: Hutch Carpenter explains his own experiment with the rankings that a Friendfeed entry can obtain in Google on his blog here.

But Friendfeed is far more than just aggregation of your own content. To truly dive into the Friendfeed experience, a Friendfeeder should seek out others to follow and, hopefully, encourage them to follow back. Sound Twitter-familiar? It is and it isn’t. Friendfeed is where the real conversations and information-sharing occur, once you convince others that you are a worthy conversation partner. It takes some time and definitely some effort to connect with other Friendfeeders. The experience, however, is vastly superior to Twitter and worth the effort.

Friendfeed has Twitter beat as a conversation station by virtue of its better organization and interface. Friendfeed on the Web offers the key features that Twitter users can only obtain through third party tools and resource-costly desktop applications. You can group your users and pay attention to certain portions of the feed, filtered by those groups. You also can filter topics through saved searches. Check out this awesome post by Bwana on what saved searches are and how you can use them effectively. You can join existing or form new “rooms” (topic-based Friendfeed accounts) and invite other Friendfeed users to join you in those rooms (either public or private) for targeted conversations about any topic imaginable.

Friendfeed automatically “trees” conversations by allowing you to “like” and “comment” on entries that you view. Those readers who are on Facebook might recognize these features as part of Facebook’s latest overhaul – they were taken directly from Friendfeed’s model. It becomes far easier to enter and track a conversation and return for further discussion. It also becomes easier to forge connections when you can actually engage in a conversation that is so easily tracked.

How do you break into Friendfeed? First, complete your profile and import whatever services you are interested in sharing. Obviously, for a professional presence, some of your content may be less interesting or valuable than other content and your target reader should be kept in mind. Next, import your friends from other services. These include Facebook, Linkedin, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. You also can find popular users and recommended users. Search out public groups that may be of interest to you based on your professional or personal bent and subscribe to them. Then jump into the conversation.

For some more detailed tips on getting the most out of Friendfeed, I heartily recommend this article from KnowtheNetwork.

Friendfeed is at that same place in the popularity arc that Twitter occupied  a few years back – it currently is populated mostly by technology-forward types, the shining lights among tech bloggers, hard-core programmers and coders and individuals who appreciate its initially-challenging but ultimately more rewarding interface.

I am writing this post now because I recently have seen more of my Twitter friends showing up on Friendfeed and subscribing to my feed. This jump seems to have coincided with debut of the new “real-time” interface  and the loud noise the tech press made heralding the change.

Why now? Undoubtedly, those of us who spend some time on-line, particularly in the news sources, hear about the next big thing and are eager to try it, even if we don’t understand it. And that is my sense of the reason for this next wave of Friendfeed users – they want to join in, but simply are not sure what to make of Friendfeed.

A few months back, I sought feedback from my Twitter lawyer friends as to why they were on Friendfeed when they were simply feeding in tweets and not fully exploiting its value. The short answer I received from those kind enough to respond was just that – these people were not sure what it was or how it could be used to their advantage.I just listened to a very recent podcast by two tech luminaries in the legal world discussing Friendfeed. These are people well-respected by other lawyers for their opinions on tech matters. I was only slightly surprised to hear that these individuals were themselves unsure of what Friendfeed was and what it could do for them and whether it really was worth it to spend time on yet another social site. They could sense that Friendfeed had value but could not precisely quantify what that value was.

I will not lie – Friendfeed’s learning curve is a bit steeper and longer than Twitter’s learning curve. Furthermore, with fewer people in the Friendfeed stable, it takes a bit more engagement to connect to others and achieve the level of sharing that makes Friendfeed so unique. I believe that Friendfeed will gain in prominence among professionals and the general population as more people discover and utilize its features. But those intrepid attorneys braving the uncharted waters need to engage to win here. If you only have so much time to spend on-line, don’t rule out Friendfeed – you can still track your Twitter peeps on Friendfeed and even reply to their threads on Twitter via Friendfeed with a simple setting adjustment.

Friendfeed as a marketing and business generating tool? You betcha! I have gotten the same number of leads for professional work from Friendfeed as I have from Twitter. Although the work has differed (undoubtedly due to the different audiences I follow on the two sites), the numbers read the same. Bear in mind that I am currently pushing close to 1,000 Twitter followers and have only just over 300 Friendfeed followers. You do the math. The quantity and quality of responses to my questions on Friendfeed far exceed the return from my Twitter follows. The only conclusion I can reach is that the higher the quality of connection, the better the chances that your networking will yield results. And Friendfeed offers the better connection.

You still want another benefit? Far less spammers than Twitter. Although I am sure even spammers will eventually discover it and figure out a way to break in.

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