5 myths about working with information

I've never seen a green unicorn before.
The Digital Landfill blog has published a very interesting post entitled 5 myths about working information in the 21st Century. In the post the author looks at...well 5 myths associated with working with information. These are:
  1. We'll all work less hours in the 21st century - like this is ever going to happen seriously. Apparently there were predictions in the late 80's that we would be working less but despite technology advances we seem to be working even more. Or perhaps because of technology advances we're working even more! 
  2. We're creating more data than ever before - The author makes an interesting point here which is that we're not actually creating more data, but we're retaining it for longer and we're using it in different ways. At least I hope that is the point they're making.
  3. An infinite crowd is infinitely wise - Now then this is a very interesting point that the author makes. We all know how "crowd sourcing" has and can be used by organisations to solve problems or generate ideas. What the author is saying is that actually most great ideas will still come from an individual or as the author puts it "the lone inventor (or small team) who look at a problem in a completely different way"
  4. Email was a 20th century tool - The author is bang on here, email is going to roll and roll and roll and unfortunately we're all going to have to deal with the consequences (information overload etc). But the author does have some suggestion as to how with emails. "First, allow staff to declare themselves “email bankrupts."  The act of doing so will result in a message to all who have sent an email outstanding in their inbox, that nothing prior to the given date will be read or actioned.  The bankrupt then has a clean inbox and a fresh start.  Declaring bankruptcy should have some consequences, but they must not be too serious (name and shame would normally suffice).  In addition, like a financial bankrupt, they should be given some assistance to help them avoid the situation in the future" Sounds like a great idea but I'm not sure how practical it would be in reality. The second suggestion from the author is to send emails in batches. In principle this means using your email client to delay sending emails until a certain point in time. 
  5. All documents and unstructured content are equivalent - I got a bit lost here, so I recommend just reading about this on the blog post!

Is free legal information really free?

Susan Munro Director of Publications at CLEBC has written an interesting piece on the SLAW blog called "Free legal information, really?"  in the blog post Susan looks at how information that has been published to the web that is supposedly free might in reality not be.

From Susan's blog post "The truth of the matter is that free is not really free. There’s plenty of legal information on the Internet. But it’s not really free. Someone is paying to put it there. And there’s a lot of expense associated with publishing specialized information on the Internet; technology has a significant cost associated"

Susan makes some really good points about some of the very valuable "free" resources, which we're actually paying for. In the UK for example we have BAILLI which although a fantastic resource has recently had to appeal for funds to ensure the good work it does continue. It's absolutely crucial that this resource continues and I'm sure ALL Law Librarians and a lot of practitioners would agree with me.

Susan then goes on to look at the differences between making primary and secondary legal material available for free online. "When we’re thinking about free information online, it’s important to distinguish between primary and secondary material. Free secondary legal information is also available online in the many legal blogs now published. These blogs are usually a marketing vehicle showcasing the legal expertise of the author. They are easy to set up using an interface such as WordPress. Some blogs are marvelous; others less so. The best that can be said is that the quality is inconsistent; there is certainly no guarantee of accuracy."

Finally Susan asks whether free legal information is or will ever be a real threat to online subscription products. "Is free material a serious threat to our online subscription products? In a column last year, I wrote about the use of wikis and other collaborative resources for legal publication. My conclusion that lawyers would continue to pay for authoritative and accurate secondary legal information hasn’t changed. But ensuring the accuracy of that information has a cost. And I continue to believe that having subscribers bear the cost of developing and publishing secondary information is still the best model for us"

This is a really interesting blog post which is well worth reading for the thoughts of an individual that provides both primary and secondary legal information.

Social media policy

I absolutely love this video from Youtube which explains an organisations Social Media policy with just the right mix of fun and seriousness. This was put together by the Department of Justice in Victoria, Australia - enjoy!

The future of Intranets and what it means for KM

This is the title of an excellent PowerPoint presentation from James Robertson in which he looks at how Intranets need to move beyond "useful" to become "essential" how Intranets should be supporting the generation and collation of both explicit and tacit knowledge and how they should become "smart" that is they deliver content/knowledge when people need it, not expecting people to have to search through massive content repositories.

There is a bonus video clip on the Column Two website in which James discusses some of the more contentious points he makes in his presentation.

81 Intranet Governance Questions to Ask Yourself

The ultimate house of governance
This is an interesting post from the Thoughtfarmer blog which challenges to ask yourself 81 questions about the governance of  your Intranet. If anyone can answer yes to ALL 81 of these questions I'd really like to meet them!

E-books and the Future of Legal Publishing

There has been a lot of discussion on the BIALL and LIS-LAW mailing lists recently about e-books and implications for their purchases within Law Firms. So it was interesting to see that this subject was discussed at the recent AALL Conference in a panel discussion called E-books and the Future of Legal Publishing 

In this panel session, which was hosted by June Hsiao Liebert and had representatives from LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters and YBP Library Services, the panelists were asked the following questions:
  • What is the future of ebooks?
  • What kind of licensing models are you implementing; how are you implementing digital rights management?
  • What difficulties are there in converting a book to an ebook?
  • If you had a crystal ball, how long do you think your companies will continue to produce print?
  • What types of content do you plan to put into ebooks first?
  • What platform will your ebooks use?
There were also some additional questions from the audience which are included within this excellent summary from Connie Crosby. Having seen several discussions on LIS-LAW about e-books it was interesting to see a more detailed discussion at the AALL Conference.

Intranet teams need to be technology savvy

It might seem obvious but if you're managing an Intranet, you're going to need to have some experience with technology. However increasingly Intranets are being managed outside of the IT Team. This is a good development, however it does mean that there can be gaps in the Knowledge of the team managing the Intranet.

So how can someone gain technical knowledge in area they might not be familiar with? Well James Robertson has some suggestion in his post Intranets teams need technology savvy the following are some of James's suggestions:

  • Reading blogs and websites that cover general technology trends from a business perspective.
  • Gaining hands-on training with key tools, to an administrator (not developer) level.
  • Attending conferences and events that explore intranet and technology topics.
  • Tracking what other organisations have done from a technical perspective.
  • Building a productive relationship with IT, to allow constructive two-way dialogue and knowledge sharing.
  • Hiring team members with a greater level of technical knowledge or comfort.
  • Sticking at it! Not being afraid to ask questions, or to keep asking for more information until things make sense. 
When I joined my latest firm I had very little experience of managing an Intranet aside from publishing content. So it was somewhat of an upward learning curve trying to understand how the different systems worked together and to be honest I'm still learning. Having an understanding of what is happening more generally is very useful as you can begin to work on ideas for your own Intranet. Attending Conferences and events is also very useful, especially as you'll likely to meet other individuals in a similar position to yourself. I'd also suggest signing up to Twitter if you haven't already (why not!) and searching for Intranet managers or Intranet professionals, there are plenty on there and they're normally happy for people to contact them with questions. There are also a lot of groups on LinkedIn which are specifically for Intranet managers, which are well worth signing up to. One of the most important points James makes is about building a productive relationship with IT. This is essential if you want to get anything done on your Intranet. A bad working relationship can mean that you struggle to have updates and changes approved or resource made available.

Have you recently taken over the management of an Intranet, if so how did you get up to speed?