Technology-Lawyer

Dennis Kennedy

Technology Law and Legal Technology. Dennis Kennedy is one of the few technology lawyers who is also an expert on the underlying technologies. Dennis an award-winning leader in the application of technology and the Internet to the practice of law. DennisKennedy.com gives you access to a wide variety of Dennis Kennedy's resources on legal technology, his writings, his well-known blog, DennisKennedy.Blog, and information about how you can have Dennis speak to your organization or group.

Dennis Kennedy is one of the most knowledgeable legal technologists you will find. - Michael Arkfeld.

Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology expert in St. Louis, Mo., has been a significant influence in the ever-evolving relationship between lawyers and the Web. - Robert Ambrogi

Archive for January, 2005

Kevin Buckley Named One of St. Louis’s 40 Under 40

Monday, January 24th, 2005

My friend, biotech guru, occasional bicycling buddy, rock climbing teacher and patent lawyer, Kevin Buckley made the St. Louis Business Journal’s list of 40 under 40 announced last week. He certainly deserves the recognition and it’s an honor to be one of the people quoted in the article about Kevin.
As I told Kevin when he told me about this a few weeks ago, I know I’m more excited about this than Kevin is – I really like to see my friends do well and get some attention.
Kevin cares about people and he cares about biotech. It’s rare to see a lawyer with Kevin’s enthusiasm and passion about both the subject matter of the area of the law and the people involved in it.
If, in fifty years, someone writes a book on the history of the biotech industry in St. Louis, there will definitely be a chapter on Kevin. In it, Kevin will (1) consistently point to everyone other than himself for their efforts and (2) keep emphasizing that the best is yet to come. In it, other people will point to all the things Kevin has done, most of it behind the scenes, to put together people and make the industry happen.
Once Kevin has a little time to celebrate, I’ll go back to twisting his arm to start a blog.
As an aside, I’ve always said that a key question to ask any lawyer is, “What do you like about practicing law?” The best lawyers I’ve known invariably say something about liking to help people. Note Kevin’s quote in the article:
“There’s this huge disconnect between research and providing a final product to sell,” he said. “That’s really where I want to target my practice, and really where I want to help entrepreneurs.”

Mark Lieb Releases Downloadable Litigation Support Book

Monday, January 24th, 2005

Mark Lieb has just released the first edition of his book, “Litigation Support Department” as a download at http://www.Litigation-Support.info.
Mark and his brother Larry run the very useful Litigation Support Vendors Association site. This book will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of litigation support managers and any law firm with a significant litigation practice.

Snow Fooling, Blog Walk Chicago was Amazing!

Monday, January 24th, 2005

In our last installment, I was about to drive to Chicago with Matt Homann for our combined law firm retreat (more on that in a later post), do some prep work for LexThink! Chicago (more on that later, but invitations are out and the Catalyst Ranch space we have could not be more perfect for what we want to do), and attend Blog Walk Chicago.
We got into Chicago a short time before the biggest snowstorm in three years hit. We met up with the multi-talented and multi-blogual Fred Faulkner for a drink after work and then walked over to Bandera’s for a fabulous dinner.
We woke to a snowy Chicago morning and went to visit the Catalyst Ranch before cabbing it up to Blog Walk. The Catalyst Ranch dazzled me, and I put a hold on a room there for the March 30 ABA TECHSHOW 2005 Blogger Dinner. Now, I just have to convince the rest of the ABA TECHSHOW 2005 Board to confirm the reservation. If we can do the Blogger Dinner at the Catalyst Ranch, it will become even more of a must-be-there event than it already is. (By the way, there will be opportunities to sponsor this event, provide giveaways to attendees, et al., as part of the ABA TECHSHOW 2005 sponsor/exhibitor options. You can contact me for more details.)
We were a bit concerned about being able to get up to Northwestern University for the Blog Walk, but the roads were reasonably clear, at least until we hit Evanston. Then it got to be more interesting. We rewarded our cabbie’s performance, both driving and trying to persuade us how difficult it was, with a big tip and waded through the snow to Blog Walk.
We were late and walked into the middle of the event, but found, to our delight, that Blog Walk agenda was organized using the “Open Space” method we want to use at LexThink! Chicago. We got to see it in action and we were very pleased with the method.
You can find other reactions to Blog Walk from other attendees (pictures here and Lilia’s post points to other commentary and resources) and on the Wiki, but here are a few of my observations.
1. I feel like the world’s biggest blogging fan. It was a thrill to meet the other bloggers, some of whom I’ve read for several years, and get to say, “I subscribe to your feed and I want to say thank you for all that you’ve done.” I resisted the urge, but there was a part of me that wanted to go around and collect autographs. (I’d still like to get this picture of Lilia, Jack, Steve and me autographed).
2. What a rush it is to be a room with a group of people with that level of talent, intellectual firepower AND generosity. You felt welcome. The discussions never lagged, the ideas flew and I noticed that people were always sharing suggestions, tools and ways other bloggers could do things better and easier. Matt said something about there easily being 500+ great ideas that floated around the room. I agree with that. I have a lot of notes. I was greatly energized.
3. What about the walk part of Blog Walk? There was an amazing snowstorm going on, but there was a memorable walk that was part of my Blog Walk experience. Matt, telcom guru, Martin “Telepocalypse” Geddes and I walked five blocks to the train to get back downtown. I’d guess the temperature was in the low teens (that’s Fahrenheit), with a steady wind driving the snow and gusts that were in the 20 to 30 miles per hour range (you can do your own wind chill calculations – I’m afraid to find out). We just missed a train and then had to huddle in a small shelter for about 30 minutes for another train. After a long ride, with many delays, Matt, Martin and I warmed up with another great Chicago dinner and a long conversation.
4. At the end of the day, Jack announced that the shares of the costs came to $20 each. What an incredible bargain! Matt and I were talking on the way home that any organization who paid $250,000 to get this group of people for a day or two to discuss their problems and issues, strategies and future directions, would be getting the bargain of the century. All of us there (see the list at the end of this post) got an incredible level of insight and help for the cost of splitting the food (great pizza) we shared.
5. I enjoyed the fact that I was able to have significant conversations (some short, some long) with everyone there. If you are fans of these bloggers, I can tell you that they are all cooler and even more brilliant in person than even what you see on their blogs.
6. At the end of the day, Mark Bernstein (Tinderbox!!!) said something to the effect that blogs should be changing the world. What I noticed in every conversation was that no matter what area you might start with in discussing the impact of blogging, you shortly found yourself asking fundamental questions about what we are now doing. For example, I was talking with the amazing Steve Dembo (a teacher/blogger to whom I give my greatest compliment – he made me wish that he was one of my daughter’s teachers) about how blogs might be used in elementary schools. Before long we (and others) were talking about what skills should be taught, how we should them, what education means, and whether the current system works or will work for our children. I summed up my thoughts with the three questions that were running through my mind – Are blogs revolutionary? Is blogging revolutionary? Or, are blogs simply another tool? I’ve recast those questions as I’ve thought more about them. Where I’m at now is: Are bloggers revolutionary / world-changing? If so, what should we be doing together? If not, why not?
An interesting synchronicity: for me, the most important, thought-provoking post that I read at the end of 2004 – one that I knew would have a big influence on me in 2005 – was called “Giving Up Traditional Blogging?” The author was Stuart Henshall. On Saturday, I got the chance to talk at length with Stuart. What value has blogging brought to me? Amazing value, in many unexpected ways.
Read these blogs and subscribe to their feeds. Read the people they read. Think about where you want to go next and what happens as blogging becomes less of a solitary effort. May you one day be as amazed as I am, perhaps as early as LexThink! Chicago.

Homann, Kennedy Law Firms to Pioneer Combined Annual Retreat Concept

Thursday, January 20th, 2005

I’m pleased to announce that Matt “the [non]billable hour” Homann and I have agreed to hold a combined annual retreat for both firms this year. It will take place this weekend when Matt and I drive to Chicago together to do some prep work for the LexThink! Chicago conference and attend the Chicago BlogWalk. The deal to combine our law firm annual retreats came together when we were able to land two of the best law firm retreat speakers currently available, Dennis Kennedy and Matt Homann.
Regular readers of this blog will recall that last summer I pioneered the annual retreat by blog format. As a follow-up, I can report that last summer with had a superb speaker, had lots of ideas and made some great plans, but, as is common, did not execute the plans after the retreat as well as we hoped. By combining the efforts of two firms, we hope to improve both our ideas and our execution. Plus, Matt and I were going to be riding together on the four-hour drive to Chicago and hanging out for the weekend anyway.
Although I prefer to keep the focus on retreat business, Matt may issue an open invitation for bloggers in the Chicago area to meet us in our hotel lobby.
I’m such a fan of blogging that I can’t wait to meet some of my blogging heroes at the Chicago BlogWalk, including the great Jack “Knowledge Jolt with Jack” Vinson, who convinced me to move to full-text feeds.
There have been some discussions of broadcasting the retreat sessions as a webinar or podcast, but we haven’t been able to guarantee broadband coverage all the way from Highland, Illinois to Chicago. We have not ruled out an audio program based on the retreat.
By the way, the response to LexThink! Chicago truly overwhelmed us and delayed us in getting invitations out, but we have vowed to get the invitations out before we get on the road to Chicago.

Dennis Kennedy’s Annual Legal Technology Predictions Article Published in Law Practice Magazine

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

The 2005 version of my annual legal technology predictions article appears in the January issue of the ABA’s excellent Law Practice magazine (the subscription to the magazine is reason enough to join the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section – and the discount on the registration price to ABA TECHSHOW 2005 is icing on the cake).
The article is called “Legal Technology Predictions for 2005: Color My World” and will be available on the LPM website for free viewing for a month or so before it disappears behind the members-only wall.
Note that I wrote this article specifically with the small firm and solo market in mind. My more comprehensive look into the crystal ball will only be available this year in the form of seminars or speaking appearances, although I considering publishing it as an eBooklet or audio program. Sorry, but some of my friends made me swear that in 2005 I would stop giving away so much of my content for free.
In any event, enjoy this article. I think it has a lot of useful ideas and I hope you find them helpful to you.

Why Large Law Firms Aren’t Blogging

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

There’s a certain sense of “dog bites man” news that you get when you read Feedmelegal’s recent post on the lack of blogging by large law firms. Add it to the list of tech innovations large law firms aren’t using.
You may remember how astonished I was with the stories from AmLaw Tech about what the top 100 law firms were doing in 2004 and some were, incredibly, focused like a laser on setting up delivery of faxes on laptop computers! I’m sure that you remember the client surveys where the #1 answer to the question, “what innovation did your law firm bring you?” was “none.”
When you are thinking about faxes, you ain’t thinking about blogs.
The name of the game big firms should be playing is RSS – properly understood, blogs are a side show, and I say that as someone who really enjoys blogging.
Here’s the reason large law firms don’t get blogging (let alone RSS). They’re talking to the wrong people. Check this out: one large law firm, Preston Gates, has become known for blogging. I spent some time on the phone today talking with the same person Preston Gates talks to – Kevin “LexBlog” O’Keefe.
In my 2004 Blawggie awards, I listed the four people whose opinions I legal blogging I put the most stock in. Kevin was one of them. OK, OK, I named myself as another one, but, darn it, I really get this stuff. I’m into my tenth year of having a website and I’ve never been more excited about anything on the Internet than the RSS/newsfeed technologies.
The fact is that it is the clients of firms who don’t blog and use RSS who are hurt more by the failure of their large law firms to deliver useful information in these ways more than so the law firms are hurt. Check the profits per partner of large law firms this year.
I’m about to announce formally some RSS and blog consulting packages and services I’ll be offering in 2005. In the same way that my own interest is in “client-driven technology,” I plan to focus more on helping traditional law firm clients get what they should expect for the money they pay their law firms. I’ll also offer seminars and speaking on these topics.
Of course, I’ll help large law firms if they want, or any other law firms, but if you are concentrating on fax in 2005, we simply aren’t speaking the same language.

MLK and DMK – 2005

Monday, January 17th, 2005

Martin Luther King Day is one of my favorite holidays. You will learn why in a minute.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that law firms and lawyers are reluctant to celebrate Martin Luther King Day as a holiday. It often seems that they grudgingly allow lawyers and staff to take the day off, if they must, but firms do not encourage anyone to do so.
You often hear that, because people have just gotten Christmas and New Year’s Day off, that MLK Day makes for “too many” days off in a short time, as if three days off in a few weeks is a terrible thing. The expectation, too, is that you should work until Memorial Day without having any holidays. President’s Day as well is usually treated as holiday on which you should be working.
Even though you hear talk about concerns about productivity, continuity and not falling behind in your work, it is all but inevitable that you will hear someone launch into a commentary about their opinion that there shouldn’t even be a Martin Luther King Day.
That’s when I love to jump in and say that it’s one of my favorite holidays. In part, I do that because I enjoy rattling the cages of people who carry on about their half-baked, ill-considered opinions, which is usually the case, but I also do so to make them consider carefully what they are really saying and how others might interpret their remarks.
I also do that because I enjoy telling my own stories about Martin Luther King Day and why I like to reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. on this day.
I was in Washington DC attending law school at Georgetown from 1980 to 1983. If you recall, that was the time that the effort to make the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday was in full swing. I don’t pretend to be anything more than an interested bystander, but I got the chance to attend two very large rallies on the Washington Mall in support of the holiday effort. Both of them made strong, positive impressions on me, but one memory always stands out.
I supported the cause, but I really wandered over the events after my law school classes in order to see what was happening and to see and hear some of our best speakers and musicians. I also wanted to be part of a large gathering of people all committed to a positive cause.
It’s easy today to be jaded and cynical, to see everything in terms of politics and ideology, but, looking back, I think that everyone should experience at least once the phenomenon of being in a crowd of thousands of people holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome.” For that moment in time, at least, you really do get an overwhelming sense of what humans can do that is right and just. That feeling may not last long, but it is a cool thing.
Another thing that was fun was to be in a huge group of people chanting, “we want a holiday, we took a holiday.” I like the flavor that gives to the phrase “taking a holiday.”
Here’s my memory that stands out. One of the years, Stevie Wonder was going to debut his Happy Birthday song (lyrics here). It was a gray, cold day. I remember snow on the ground and ice on the sides of the Washington Monument, under which we stood and watch a succession of speakers and performers appear on a stage.
When Stevie Wonder finally came out to play his song and, I swear this is true, the sun appeared and bathed the whole scene in a warm light. When I looked up at the Washington Monument, the ice and condensation shone in the light in a way that looked like a single tear on the face of the monument. It was a rare and spiritual moment that affected me profoundly – a feeling of being in a place I was meant to be, at the right place and the right time.
That’s something personal to me – you can have your own reasons for what you do.
A few years ago, I decided that one of the things that I’d gradually like to accomplish over the years is to visit some of the places in the world associated with spirituality – some people refer to these as “places of power.”
For example, in 2004, I was in Oklahoma City and Jim Calloway took us to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in the late evening. I remember walking with Tom “Inter Alia” Mighell and we were chattering away until we walked up to the point where you overlook the memorial. We immediately became silent. In fact, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I really could not have spoken. I felt the silent spirituality and power of the place. It was an amazing experience, one I recommend to everyone, and I’ll always be grateful to Jim for taking us there.
The year before, I had been to a friend’s wedding in Auburn, Alabama, flying into and out of Atlanta. I had always been impressed by Tom Peters’ comment that whenever he was in Atlanta, he stopped by the Ebenezer Baptist Church. I had a little time, a GPS navigation system in my rental car, and decided to do the same.
I didn’t realize until I got there that the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site is there, with a big visitor’s center and other features. The church is quite modest, but being inside of it fills you with a sense of history, reverence, awe and connection. As I left the church and walked down the street, I realized for the first time that Martin Luther King’s grave is also there. Like the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, it is a memorial that feels exactly right. The short time I was able to spend there was quite wonderful – in its own way, both profound and peaceful – and I highly recommend a visit. I plan to return with my family one day.
I like to take a few minutes on each Martin Luther King Day to remember my own connections to this day. I also think that it makes sense to attend some kind of event or to take the time to reread something like the Letter from Birmingham Jail or the I Have a Dream speech, or to listen to or watch that profound and magical speech. Other speeches are available here and here.
This morning, I was thinking about the “I Have a Dream” speech and what a gift it is to us. Part of its magic is how it is impossible for any politician to try to commandeer it for his or her own purposes. Although it was obviously written by a father for his children, it is always difficult to imagine any adult being able to recite the speech and to be able to do so successfully and pull an audience into its power. At best, they might be a pale imitation; at worst, ludicrous. At the same time, if a child, no matter how haltingly, recited those words, there will not be a dry eye in the house. That’s magic.
Yesterday, I was listening to a bunch of music. One of the songs I listened to was Bruce Springsteen’s “American Skin (41 Shots).” The song, ostensibly about the Diallo shooting incident, caused a lot of controversy when he introduced it. It’s interesting to see how the song grows and changes as the event that is at the center of the song recedes into history and the song begins to stand on its own. The lyrics are here.
In the version I listened to, the song begins with each of the vocalists in the band – Bruce, Little Steven, Nils, Clarence and Patti – taking a turn singing the line “41 Shots.” The song begins and Bruce, perturbed, asks the crowd for quiet. He then nails the song, capturing something essential. As the song builds, he plays a jaw-dropping guitar solo. As with many of his live performances, the song builds and builds, and could go on forever and it’d be OK with me.
It meant one thing back then – it means other things now. Today is a good day to think about what it means to live in your American skin.

Blogline.com’s Blog “Mapping” Policy Forces Bloggers to Move to Ads in RSS Feeds, Says Prominent Lawyer Blogger

Friday, January 14th, 2005

In almost ten years of having his own website, Dennis Kennedy says he has seen his content show up in many unexpected places. However, even he was surprised when he found a twin of his blog on the website of Bloglines.com, a very popular blog tools and RSS newsreader service.
“I had done a search on Google and found that one of my blog posts was one of the top results,” he says. “Then I noticed that the address for my post was not on my website, but instead on the Bloglines.com site.”
When he went to http://www.bloglines.com/preview?siteid=546436, he says, “I found a doppelganger of my blog. I saw my full posts mapped onto something that someone might think was my blog, but it definitely was not my blog. Worse yet, the URL in the address box in my browser showed a bloglines.com address, not a denniskennedy.com address. Anyone who came to this page would definitely think that it was my blog and probably conclude that I was part of the Bloglines team.”
When he did some more checking, Kennedy found another big surprise. The Bloglines.com addresses for his posts sometimes were ranked higher than those on his own site. In one case, however, a visit to http://www.bloglines.com/blog/cchick?subid=4563300 brought up a page that mapped his posts onto a version of Cindy Chick’s LawLibTech blog. “Hey, it’s an honor to be associated with Cindy’s great blog, but it’s extremely confusing and someone could easily believe that I was copying Cindy’s material on my own blog, or vice versa. Talk about the worst of all worlds.”
Even though Kennedy reports that his web pages have been “repurposed” by other sites more times than he ever expected over his years on the Internet, he says this time was especially unsettling. “I have to admit that my first reaction was to think that they had stolen my blog. I even went back to my own blog to check to make sure it was there.”
Kennedy, whose law practice includes intellectual property licensing matters, raises a number of questions about Bloglines.com’s practices. “There’s no question that fair use is a complicated area in copyright law, but it’s difficult to find ways to fit this example into traditional notions of fair use. I’d be surprised if they hadn’t gotten a legal opinion on this approach, since it seems so central to their business model, but I’d like to see the reasoning in that opinion.”
His main question, however, relates to the commercial benefits Bloglines.com seems to gain from his content. “With my content on their site, they are able to surround my content with their own ads and make it part of other revenue-producing activities. At the same time, they are not showing any ads or sponsor logos I have on my blog. Presumably, the Bloglines.com twin of my blog diminishes the traffic to my blog. It’s all very analogous to the early controversies over the framing of web pages, even though the technologies are different.”
However, more than intellectual property law may be at play. “Everywhere we go on the Internet, we are clicking our agreement to all sort of contracts that we may not read carefully enough,” notes Kennedy. “I’d hate to think, however, that we are giving our permission for this type of use with a click of the mouse or simply by using the Bloglines.com website.”
He sees no clear answer, for himself or other bloggers. “It’s difficult to sort these issues out. In a sense, by using an RSS feed I am exposing my content to the world and, as my friends will tell you, I probably won’t be satisfied until everyone in the world is reading my posts. In some ways, the whole scenario reminds me of a law school exam question. Fair use or not? What controls? Their clickwrap agreement, if any, the “terms of use” language on a blogger’s site or something like a Creative Commons license for the bloggers who use these licenses?”
Kennedy admits that he has expected to see some action or discussion from the Creative Commons group. “One of the Creative Commons licenses you see frequently specifies no commercial use. Wouldn’t this be commercial use? The silence from Professor Lessig and the Creative Commons group has been overwhelming. It raises serious questions about what the CC licenses really mean and how their terms will be enforced. I don’t use the CC licenses because I don’t think that they make sense for me, but many bloggers routinely apply one of these licenses.”
Do bloggers have any recourse? “That’s a great question,” says Kennedy. “Bloglines offers an RSS feed reader tool that many people I know really like. I’m one of the biggest advocates of the power of RSS feeds you’ll find. I hate the idea of seeing the development of RSS feeds slowed down to any degree whatsoever because of lawyers and legal issues. I really want to hear more from Bloglines about this issue before making any final judgments.”
Kennedy suspects that there may not be any simple practical solutions. “Of course, I’d love to see some of the venture capital money that Bloglines has gotten or will get make it back to me,” he chuckles. “Your first thought, of course, is that there should be some form of payment to the bloggers whose content is harvested and mapped onto the Bloglines site, but creating a mechanism would not be an easy job. In addition, you have the Google model, where, as I understand it, Google has actually copied my content into its databases. I haven’t gotten my check for my small contribution to Google’s successful IPO and I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to arrive,” he says, laughing.
“I always prefer practical technology solutions to legal solutions,” say Kennedy. “Maybe that’s why people also tell me that I’m not like most lawyers they meet. So, I’ve been thinking of practical alternatives.”
Has he found any good ones? “Well, Bloglines seems to be capturing and repurposing feeds rather than reproducing blog content, if I can make that fine a distinction. I look to the feeds for the solution. Although it puts a burden on bloggers, I’m giving serious thought to including a statement at the bottom of each of my feed items that gives the post’s real URL on my site and makes it clear that I’m not a participant in or an endorser of the Bloglines site. But, that only covers half the problem.”
Some may be surprised to find that in the free-ranging world of bloggers, there is one place most bloggers are afraid to venture. “The last taboo in blogging is definitely placing ads in feeds. The group of bloggers who most of us see as the inventors of blogging debate this issue endlessly and treat placing ads in RSS feeds as a defining moral issue. Those who have tried putting ads in feeds have really taken some heat.”
Kennedy laments the fact that the debate has gone on and on and seems no closer to resolution. “Between Thanksgiving and the end of 2004, I collected more than 150 blog posts on the topic of ads in feeds. It’s sad to see highly-regarded and popular bloggers resorting to pledge drives, begging and randomly-served ad schemes that probably only benefit blogs with huge numbers. It breaks my heart to see a blogger who provides great computer tips or other great information begging for donations when his or her aging computer dies, especially when companies would gladly pay for even a simple sponsor logo in that blog’s RSS feed.”
Today, Kennedy feels the debate over ads in feeds has reached the “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” stage, with a focus on semantics and metaphysics. “I minored in philosophy in college, but the discussions in this debate can make my head spin. I hate to even comment on the current argument that it is OK to make money from blogs but not to make money with blogs. By the way, it is essential to italicize the “from” and “with” to get the real flavor of this discussion. As a practical matter, some of the explanations why one practice is a “from” and another is a “with,” make you long for the clarity of Bill Clinton and what the meaning of “is” is. I don’t want to be critical, but it’s possible for a disinterested observer to conclude that “from” is what the person making the argument does and “with” is what someone else does, at least in some of these discussions. The irony is that the whole debate has ended up putting most bloggers in the worst of all worlds – the world of randomly-served ads. How in the world that isn’t a “with” I’ll never understand. Sorry for all this inside baseball talk about blogging esoterica.”
Kennedy says that he and others are losing patience with the debate and the world of randomly-served ads that the endless debating has created. “I want to be a good citizen in the blogosphere. Lawyers already have a place in Internet history as the creators of spam. I’ve been reluctant to move to ads in feeds, despite the inquiries I have had, without a clear signal from the leading bloggers who dominate this issue.”
He reflects for a moment and then says, seriously, “The approach Bloglines has adopted, especially in my case, changes the whole nature of this debate about ads in feeds. In fact, I’d argue that it ends the debate. If my blog can be duplicated in another location without the ads on my blog or any of the other materials I might have on my blog about my products or services or other ways I might make money “from” my blog, then what are we left to talk about? The only effective choice I have to realize the value of my blog’s content and audience is to sell ads in my feed. Bloglines has brought the issue to a head. In fairness, Bloglines is not alone – you will find other examples.”
Kennedy plans to take steps soon, but he’s not looking to fill his feeds with intrusive ads. “I don’t even understand why bloggers would use randomly-served ads. It not only works against the sense of trust and authority that a top blogger can establish, but it also introduces the possibility that a randomly-served ad may make it look like you have a conflict of interest. I’ve always thought that the sponsorship approach is the way to go, with a small, tasteful logo and tagline, and possibly with a link that allowed the blogger to earn commissions on sales generated through the feed. That approach also has the benefit of disclosing a blogger’s financial relationships. It helps readers adjust for potential bias or conflicts, while offering good compensation to niche bloggers.”
Kennedy warms to the subject, “Sponsored ads in feeds are such a logical step that I’ve been surprised that there has been such a fight against them. Blogging is about freedom, but the one thing I’ve never felt free to do as a blogger is put an ad in my feed. I understand the concern about spammers and pop-up ads, but that concern doesn’t come up in the case of sponsored feeds. Each blogger can make his or her own decision. Now only the highly popular blogs can earn anything significant from ads on their blogs and corporate and academic blogs are almost immune from the question. Let’s end the debate and start experimenting. At this point, Bloglines has forced the issue and I feel compelled to move to the ads in feeds approach rather than stand idly by and watch others make money off my content.”
With a twinkle in his eye, Kennedy smiles and concludes, “As the song says, if ads in feeds are wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I’m willing to take the heat, but Bloglines has forced my hand.”
Does your blog have a twin out there?

ABA TECHSHOW 2005 – March 31 – April 2 – BTOBS

Friday, January 14th, 2005

Time to reserve the dates for ABA TECHSHOW 2005 – March 31- April 2, 2005 at the Chicago Sheraton Hotel and Towers.
There’s lots of information at www.techshow.com, including a blog with an RSS feed. You can register online at the website.
The Early Bird Deadline is February 18th. Register before the 18th to save $100. Many people will also qualify for one of the other available discounts. Now is the time to get your request in to the powers-that-be at your firm and get that check issuance process started.
We’ve been working on putting the show together, with an emphasis on continuing TECHSHOW’s unique emphasis on educational programs directed to practicing lawyers. There will be a great mix of sessions this year and it will be the premier place to meet and hang out with lots of legal bloggers. If you’ve never been to a TECHSHOW, this would be a great year to attend your first one.
If you have any questions about TECHSHOW, I’d be happy to try to answer them for you. Hope to see you there.

Priorities: Blogging or Math Homework

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

I’ve gotten into the habit of writing blog posts in the evening. For the last few nights, my daughter has asked me for help with her math homework right about the time I planned to write for my blog.
Obviously, I’ve been helping with math. Decimals and fractions. I really enjoy teaching Grace about math, but the problem sets take a while to do.
For those of you who will find yourself in the same position in a few years, I have a few observations to share.
1. Dang, those arithmetic skills deteriorate over time. I’m quick to reach for a calculator.
2. It can be difficult to know what approach to take in helping out when you aren’t sure what approach the teacher is taking. I’m always trying to be careful not to do something different than what they do in class.
3. I see how the need for repetition and the “everydayness” of math homework can be wearing on kids. Grace is a very good math student, but she doesn’t have, at this point, the fascination and curiosity I had (and still have) with working with numbers and patterns in numbers.
4. No matter how fascinated you might be with the implications, analogies and directions the homework can take you, it’s important to keep in mind that the task is really to get the 30 problems done and when you are at problem 25, your digressions will not necessarily be as interesting to your child as they are to you. Make an observation or two rather than launching into a mini-lecture.
5. Similarly, even if you are in a hurry, keep the burden on your child to take the responsibility for doing the problems. Be aware of the line between helping and doing the work for them.
6. Monitor the amount of work and the time spent carefully. If it seems like too much or the homework is too difficult, let the teacher know. Teachers want that type of feedback and they don’t often get it. If you can prime your child to go in and ask the questions they have, it’s even better for everyone.
7. I think it’s vital to create an atmosphere of support and understanding, and adjust your approach to what works best for your child. It’s nice to hear your spouse telling you and others that you are a good math teacher.
8. I’m starting to believe that there are three lessons you can really help with: (1) emphasizing and showing that doing math problems may be more about reading carefully than doing the math, (2) encouraging the notion of showing your thought process as way to help your teacher see where you might have gone wrong, and (3) constantly showing ways to check your results.
9. Be open to what this exercise teaches you about yourself and what memories it brings. Not all of them will be pleasant. These can help you make a better experience for your children.
10. Remember that, while blogging is cool, there are better things you can be doing with your time and that it never really hurts to take a few days off from blogging to prove to yourself that the world will move along just fine without you.
I’ve rediscovered in the last few days how much I enjoy just playing with math problems. By the way, one of the positive memories I’ve had recently is how thrilled I was when I got my GRE results back as a college senior and saw an 800 as my score on the math portion. Unfortunately, I hesitate to mention that because some people who have never met me or talked to me personally used the occasion of my 2004 blawg awards post to take public pot shots at my lack of sufficient humility to meet their exacting standards. I’m probably inviting further criticism on that score. They should be pleased to learn, though, that my math skills have moved steadily downhill since then, but, darn it, it was cool when I saw those results. The ironic thing is that I respect their work and their blogs, but wonder if they say the same kinds of things to people in person that they write on their blogs. I suppose it will be a little awkward when we meet in person one of thse days.