Internet 101

Tricks for efficient online interaction

Posted on November 2, 2009. Filed under: Internet 101, Productivity, Social Media, Web 2.0 |


This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Tricks for efficient online interaction”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Tricks for efficient online interaction

Many lawyers understand the importance of networking, but let’s face it — running a law practice takes time and no one ever seems to have enough of it. In fact, the lack of time is one of the main reasons lawyers offer as an excuse to avoid online networking.

If you use the right timesaving tools, however, you will be able to streamline your online networking experience, so that the time you spend online will be more effective and efficient.

The first thing you need to do is use Firefox as your default Web browser. The tools you can add to the browser bar will make your life online much simpler.

My first add-on recommendation? Ditch Google Reader as the RSS feed reader and switch to Feedly ( Feedly pulls the feeds you subscribe to using Google Reader and presents them to you in a far more user-friendly interface. Feeds appear in a magazine-like view that is much easier on the eyes and sorting through new items is simple and intuitive.

Feedly doesn’t stop there, however. It also allows blogs posts and articles appearing in your feed to be shared quickly and easily. Choose the appropriate button in the tool bar appearing at the top of each item in your feed and, with the click of a button, you can share content on Twitter or Facebook. Feedly automatically creates the body of the post and shortens the link for you. E-mail the content to a client or colleague to whom it might be of interest, add it to your delicious bookmarks or clip it to Evernote.
Feedly also has a new experiment called “Karma,” which allows tracking of the links you’ve shared on Twitter. You can see which links are most popular, how many times people have re-tweeted your links and how many times people clicked through to the content.

Finally, Feedly allows content to be shared quickly via e-mail or Twitter as pages are viewed on the Web via a mini-tool bar appearing at the very bottom left corner of each Web page.
Another favorite tool is Shareaholic (,also a Firefox browser toolbar add-on. Like Feedly, Shareaholic automatically generates the body of each post and shortens links, allowing you to quickly share content on different Web platforms. One of the benefits of Shareaholic is the breadth of networking sites it supports, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Evernote, delicious, Diigo and Twine.

Should you decide to test the waters and begin interacting on Twitter, a number of platforms and tools are available to make your Twitter experience far more pleasant.
Three very popular desktop Twitter platforms are Tweetdeck(, Seesmic ( and Tweetie (www.ate The platforms offer different features that simplify your Twitter user experience. Tweetree (www.tweet and Tweetvisor (www.tweet are two online Web interfaces that accomplish the same goal.

Another really useful Firefox add-on is Mr. Tweet (, which once installed automatically provides useful information about your followers on Twitter, in turn allowing you to efficiently sort through and maintain your relationships there.
Microsoft Outlook users should be aware of Twinbox (, an add-in that seamlessly integrates Twitter and Outlook, making it easy for you to manage a Twitter account directly from Outlook.

Twitter applications can be used on your smartphone to keep up with the conversation stream. Popular iPhone Twitter applications include Tweetie (, Tweetdeck ( and Twitterific (
Arguably, the most popular BlackBerry applicationis Twitterberry (www.twitter Other Black-Berry applications to consider are Twibble ( and Tiny Tweeter ( If the Palm Pre is your smart phone of choice, Tweed ( is a good Twitter application to consider.

Finally, Social Mention ( is a great, free resource that allows real-time searches of online social networking sites for mentions of you, your business, your competitors, key words relevant to an area of practice or other topics. Search results can be filtered to locate mentions from certain types of sites, such as Twitter, blogs, or video sites such as YouTube. Search results also provide interesting data about the results, including whether the sentiment expressed is positive or  negative.
Online networking does not need to be an overwhelming experience. With the proper tools, online interactions can be made more efficient, and more streamlined than you ever dreamed possible. Put these tools to use and make online networking work for your law practice.

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Real-time Web a Game Changer

Posted on October 27, 2009. Filed under: Internet 101, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

Drlogo11This week’s Daily Record column is entitled “Real-time Web a Game Changer.”

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Real-time Web a Game Changer

You’ll have to forgive me for having online technologies, including social media, on my mind a lot lately.  I’ve been speaking about social media for lawyers quite a bit in recent months and am now enmeshed in the process of writing a book with Carolyn Elefant about social media for lawyers, which will be published by the American Bar Association.

As a result, I’ve spent a good deal of time mulling over how the rapidly changing world of online technology will affect the legal profession. The technologies are evolving at a rapid pace and changing the world around us on a global scale.

Rest assured, our profession is not immune to the paradigm shift. Social media, cloud computing, mobile computing, real-time Web and real-time search are some of the core areas predicted to be game changers over the coming year.

Lawyers cannot afford to ignore the trends and should, at the very least, make an effort to learn and understand the concepts.

Two major developments were announced last week that will make one of the predicted game changing trends —real-time Web and real-time search —a more viable reality. Twitter announced agreements with Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) and Google to allow both engines full access to its data, as produced in real time.

Microsoft also negotiated an agreement with Facebook that will allow Bing access to some of Facebook’s data.

Of course, some of you are probably wondering: What is the real-time Web, and why should I care? Good question.

In July, Wikipedia described the real-time Web as:

[T]he concept of searching for and finding information online as it is produced. Advancements in web search technology coupled with growing use of social media enable online activities to be queried as they occur. A traditional web search crawls and indexes web pages periodically, returning results based on relevance to the search query. The real time web delivers the most popular topics recently discussed or posted by users. The content is often “soft” in that it is based on the social web —people’s opinions, attitudes, thoughts and interests —as opposed to hard news or facts.

Now in its infancy, the real-time Web soon will be commonplace, and will allow instantaneous access to information on any topic or event, as soon as that information becomes available, and as the event is occurring.

At first glance, that may not seem to be an earth-shattering concept, but it is a paradigm shift worthy of note. Lawyers should sit up and take notice.

User-generated content, the fundamental building block of the “social Web,” now is more influential, and instantaneously is given more credence as aresult of appearing in search engine results as soon as it is created.

Criticisms of legal employers or law schools appearing on Twitter have become infinitely more powerful.

Small businesses, including law firms, that use Twitter or Facebook as part of their marketing efforts online can strategically tweak their marketing approach on those platforms to mirror trends and topics affecting their business, and thereby appear higher in search engine results.

Astute lawyers likewise will use real-time search to locate issues and trends that may affect their areas of practice, then tailor their marketing and litigation efforts accordingly. Class action attorneys, for instance, can search for real-time complaints about a particular drug or product and predict when or where a class of injured people may exist long before their technologically deficient colleagues get wind of it.

Make no mistake about it —real-time search finally is here, and it’s going to alter the way that business is done. It’s a game changer, folks.

At the very least, learn about it and understand its ramifications. If you’re feeling especially daring, put it to work for your law practice. It can never hurt to stay ahead of the curve, especially when most of your competitors don’t even realize the curve exists.

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How do you find the time? You use the tools . . . like RSS

Posted on June 8, 2008. Filed under: Internet 101 | Tags: , , |

RSS IconLawyers deal in information and the flow of it these days can drive you to much more than distraction. One thing I’ve heard over and over again when people talk about blogs and the new media is “how do you find the time . . . ?” How? I use the tools. I don’t go to each of them separately, such as through a bookmark in my Favorites (actually I use Firefox, so they’re bookmarks).

No, I monitor hundreds of blogs, sites and specialized searches that I’ve created through the “magic” of RSS or Really Simple Syndication feed, which really made much of the Internet’s new media possible. Subscribing to one of these feeds to a feed and read it in a feed reader, sometimes called a feed aggregator, allows you to monitor a myriad of sources for information that is relevant, indeed vital, to his or her practice. Not just blogs, but also newspapers, magazines, searches on Google, and a myriad of other possibilities. Anywhere you see the RSS symbols (one of them is found in this post), a chicklet like you see in the right panel, or a link with an exhortation to “get our feed,” you can make it so new content is delivered directly to your desktop (through the feed) on your browser or in downloadable reader, so you can skim it, look for what interests you, and then only read that. Wheat from chaff, folks.

If you learn one tool as you explore how to integrate online tools into your practice, I suggest that RSS is the one or near the top. Rather than reinvent the wheel here, I’m going to point you to some other sources. First, a quick video from a great outfit called Common Craft called RSS in Plain English:

There are also a couple of posts that I’ve found very useful on two of my favorite bloggers’ blogs, Problogger and Copyblogger. These posts set out RSS in simple terms and outline both how it works and why you’d want to use it.  Finally, Lifehacker posted the 5 most popular feed readers, according to an informal survey conducted from about 400 of the site’s many readers (there is much more detail at the Lifehacker site, so I encourage you to follow the link, plus it’s a pretty cool site in general):

  • Google Reader (my personal favorite)
  • NetVibes
  • FeedDemon
  • NetNewsWire (for you with Macintosh)
  • Sage (an extension for Firefox that turns the browser into a feed reader lite)
  • By the number of commenters to the Lifehacker post taking them to task for not including it, I’ll add Bloglines.
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