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 February, 2005

By Request Tuesday – What Type of Posts Work Best in Blogs?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

OK, I know that I sometimes write really long posts. My Heart of Blogness post was more than 4,000 words.
Long or short? Personal or “just the facts”? Links, reportage or commentary?
In short, whatever best fits your voice.
As a more practical matter, here are some of my observations.
Long vs. Short Posts
Short posts are usually “better” for most bloggers. It’s clear that fewer people will read your posts as the posts get longer. If you were able to learn about and graph readership vs. length of post, I think you’d see a precipitous decline after a post reaches about 400 words or so.
If you write a long post, you need to assume that fewer people will start to read the post (and even fewer will read it all the way through) and that the post might be saved, bookmarked or printed, but probably not read by as many people as you might have hoped.
HOWEVER, you may well develop your most loyal readership because of long posts, some might get turned into articles and some may turn out to be very long-lived and referred to by many others. They may also fall off the cliff into the deep dark sea.
I always get people telling me that I shouldn’t write as many long posts as I do. Remember, however, that I’ve written hundreds of articles and I’m quite comfortable in the 1,000 – 2,500 word range. Several of my long posts have been published as articles.
However, I expect and accept a greatly decreased readership for longer posts. That’s why I do a mix on the lengths of my posts.
In general, I’d recommend posts of a few hundred words (or less) for most new bloggers. Then adjust the length of your posts to fit your voice. There’s no magic formula, other than to note the general preference of readers for shorter posts.
If you write longer posts, think about using subheadings, bullet points and other web writing techniques that help your readers approach your article as “chunks.”
In particular, be very aggressive about paragraphing.
Forget what you were taught about not using single sentence paragraphs. Get the white space in there. You almost want to break paragraphs by sight.
If the paragraph is getting long, hit two returns and start a new paragraph. That helps today’s readers.
Personal vs. Objective Style.
You’re asking me? When in doubt, take a personal approach and use a personal style.
Links, Reportage or Commentary.
Who are you? What do you want? Figure out what your blog will be about and what you want to accomplish and you’ll get your answer.
Generally, if you are a little uncomfortable with your writing skills or are worried about how you will sound or what people might think, go with an approach that emphasizes linking and reporting news. Gradually try a few efforts at commentary (preferably something more than “that sucks”) or even more personally approaches. You’ll get feedback that either encourages you or discourages you.
Your approach will evolve over time. Heck, I have a much more personal and individual approach now than I had six months ago, let alone when I started this blog.
The “Perfect” Post.
As in article writing these days, you will generally get more response to a post that takes the form of “three reasons,” “five steps,” “seven tips” or some other numbered approach. People like this approach these days. I love posts and articles of this type. If you write a piece of this type that runs 800 to 1,200 words, you should be able to get it published as an article in print (assuming it’s reasonably good) and probably get requests from other publications to reprint it. It’s the sweet spot in the market.
A short post (less than 400 words) of this “numerical” style with a catchy title will consistently give you more audience and publicity than any other type of post that you do (except of course for post on celebrity gossip and other topics of enduring popularity).
In other words, you’d be making a huge mistake to model your blog posts after mine. But you’d also be making a mistake to decide that you need to tie yourself to some other blogger’s model.
One other point. If you do try to follow some other blogger’s model, you’ll quickly notice that (1) it’s much more difficult to write in that style than you ever expected and (2) your blogger model makes it look much easier than it really is.
One of my favorite examples of this is Tom Mighell at Inter Alia. It looks easy to write the kind of posts that Tom does, but it actually is extremely difficult to do so. I’ve tried and I can’t do it. On the other hand, I suspect that you might find it far more difficult than you expect to write in as “loose” a style as I seem to use.
It’s more about finding a voice than finding a technique.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

By Request Friday – Given the Years that You Spent in Estate Planning Earlier in Your Career, Do You Have Any Insights into Some of the New Issues Arising Over Digital Information, Email, Blogs and Websites When Someone Dies?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

Great question! And a timely one as well.
I was recently interviewed by Susan Shor on this very topic for an article that just appeared at http://www.technewsworld.com/story/40578.html. Susan’s excellent article covers a good number of thought-provoking issues that are both theoretical and practical at the same time.
In many cases, the traditional rules and procedures that we use in the paper world will cover what is needed in the digital world, if only we could take a deep breath and not panic and think that “the Internet changes everything and we need different rules because the old rules don’t apply.”
The difficulties come in three ways: (1) the traditional processes may be way too slow, (2) there is not a history and degree of comfort with what happens in the digital world on death that you find in standard “probate” procedures, and (3) non-Internet savvy lawyers, executors and trustees can easily overlook digital “assets” and may have no appreciation of the value of digital and intellectual property assets.
Here’s an example. Imagine Hunter S. Thompson had never published any books, but that all of his writings were on his blog. On his death, what value do you put on the estate tax return for the value of his “blog assets”? Trick question – of course, you want to value them at zero. However, what value will the IRS want to see and what will the IRS agree to accept?
Is your blog simply a hosting contract that should be terminated to as an ongoing liability to be extinguished or is it a potential source of income to look after your survivors?
It’s not so easy, is it? What do you think the lawyer who prepared your will / living trust will say when you ask these questions about your blog, your email and the rest of your digital life and digital assets? What is a reasonable expectation for legal representation in our increasingly digital world?
A little scary, isn’t it?
It’s another example how if you discuss blogging in almost any context, you almost invariably find yourself addressing very fundamental core questions.
Susan quotes me in the article on what, to me, became the most interesting issue raised during our phone call:
“More and more social relationships are people we know on the Internet,” [Kennedy] told TechNewsWorld. “If someone dies, there are a lot of people who should be notified. The fact that someone has died is very meaningful and a paper address book may not have closest friends. Those people who are known mainly through e-mail or online may wonder what happened. By the time things get sorted out, the funeral is long over, and it’s too late.”
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week – Extension of ABA TECHSHOW 2005 Early Bird Discount Deadline

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

Good news for bargain hunters! The TECHSHOW 2005 Early Bird Discount Deadline has been extended to March 4. The early bird discount is $100.
For information about TECHSHOW 2005 and registration information, please go to http://www.techshow.com, where you’ll find schedules, pricing and the new TECHSHOW blog, which has an RSS feed.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week – Free PDF Download of First Two Years of Blog Archives

Monday, February 21st, 2005

I thought I’d run the Blog Birthday Celebration Week thing another day or two.
Today, readers receive the gift of a free download of the first two years of DennisKennedy.Blog posts, organized by category, in one relatively humongous PDF file (approx. 1.5 megabyte download). The PDF document runs 479 pages and includes, as bonus, a copy of my article – “Life-Altering Technology – News Aggregators and Newsfeeds.” Although not quite the same as a podcast, you can even use the “Read Out Loud” option in Adobe Acrobat to have all of the blog posts read out loud to you by “Microsoft Sam” or any other voice you might have loaded on your computer.
Like many other bloggers, I still have Gmail invitations to give away. If you want one, just email me at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com.
I have a few surprises left for tomorrow (Tuesday), the last day of DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week. I’ll announce those tomorrow.
However, I will now announce that, by popular demand, “Request Tuesday” will return tomorrow. Email me your questions at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com. I have a few left over from the past week that I’ll try to answer tomorrow and I’ll also take a stab at new questions.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Search Engine Optimization – “Bump Drafting” Your Google Ranking

Monday, February 21st, 2005

I noticed what may be a new search engine optimization (“SEO”) effect today. Since I spent the weekend enjoying the Daytona NASCAR action, I spent a good deal of time hearing about and observing the current NASCAR trend called “bump drafting.”
“Bump drafting” is a form of traditional drafting in which, as crazy it might seem, the following car actually bumps the lead car. The “bump” pushes the lead car forward and while the following car falls back a bit, it can apparently take advantage of the airflow dynamics so that both cars end up going faster. It’s a little dangerous, not surprisingly.
What does this have to do with SEO?
Today, Denise Howell, who coined the word “blawg,” posted about her finding that there were 299,000 instances of “blawg” in Google. I ran a few test searches and drew some tentative conclusions.
If you run the “blawg” search, you may get a slightly different number. If you eyeball the results, you’ll see why people now think that Google’s rankings put a strong emphasis on placement of words in page titles. For example, The Blawg Channel is the #4 ranking.
On the other hand, none of the results will immediately show Denise’s role in coining the word “blawg.”
If you do a search on “dennis kennedy” (but without quotes), you will see 1,750,000 instances of the term. Hey, I’m the first one and two. In fairness, the name “kennedy” will generate a lot of instances. So, I searched “dennis kennedy” (in quotes). Slightly over 60,000 instances. Interestingly, you will see the priority given to placement of words in the page title.
I also took a look at searches on “blawg,” adding the word “dennis” and then the word “kennedy.”
Here’s the bump drafting concept. In both cases, posts on Jim Calloway’s blog that had my name in the title were the #1 ranked items. My blog was #2. As you may recall, when Jim launched his blog, a good number of legal bloggers, including me, mentioned Jim’s blog (because we like Jim so much) and his blog shot up the charts in Google. In a way, we gave Jim the “bump” and drafted in behind him in the rankings. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. The irony is that, in some cases, you might “bump” someone else farther ahead of you than you expect.
I want to do a little more research on the concept to see if it is a real effect or just an anomaly.
I will note that in the blawg + dennis and blawg + kennedy searches, you will find my post mentioning Denise as the coiner of the term blawg.
Another interesting development. For the first time, I made the first page of responses on a search on the name “dennis.” It’s unclear whether that’s a blog effect or a reflection of a downward trend in the popularity of Dennis Rodman.
By the way, none of this increases my confidence about the use of Google to actually find the information I want.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week – Bargains for You

Saturday, February 19th, 2005

Who doesn’t like a great bargain?
I thought I share two of my favorite bargain websites, each of which makes RSS feeds available. If, as J. D. Lasica has famously said, RSS is “news that comes to you,” then RSS feeds from shopping sites must be “bargains that come to you.”
My two current favorites are:
DealNews – http://dealnews.com
More Stuff for Less – http://morestuff4less.com/
Don’t forget about Kevin Kelly’s fantastic Cool Tools, also with an RSS feed, for reviews and recommendations of great products.
Another supremely cool tool comes from Watchcow.Net, which allows you to create an RSS feed based on your Amazon Wish List so you can be automatically notified when prices change. Imagine being able to spot when an expensive item you pine for becomes available from a third party “used and new” seller for a fraction of its usual price.
A few bargains I spotted this morning:
From DealNews: “MicroCenter.com offers the Kensington SaddleBag notebook bag, model no. 64079/4, for $19.99, as a reader found. It’s the lowest price we know to be available by $9. Add $5 for shipping.” (Fantastic price for a great bag – I’ve used one of these for years after a recommendation from Neil Squillante.)
From DealNews: “The Craftsman 60-piece Mechanics Tool Set is back at $29.88 at Sears.com. It’s the lowest price we’ve seen. Add $5.25 for shipping or order it online for in-store pick-up. <http://dealnews.com/newsdaily.html?article,81179>”
From DealNews: “ZipZoomFly.com offers the Western Digital Caviar SE 320GB IDE 8MB cache hard drive, model no. WD3200JB, for $205. With free 2-day shipping, it’s the lowest total price we’ve seen for a drive of its size. <http://dealnews.com/newsdaily.html?article,81190>”
From DealNews: “The Lexar 1GB USB 2.0 JumpDrive Secure costs $69.99 at Fry’s Outpost.com. A $15 mail-in rebate, ending today, drops the net price to $54.99. It’s the lowest price we’ve seen by $5. Shipping starts around $6. <http://dealnews.com/newsdaily.html?article,81100>”
From Cool Tools – Knipex Cobra Pliers
Have fun!

Heart of Blogness: My Journey into Scoble Country

Friday, February 18th, 2005

[Note: I wrote this back in December, but hadn't posted it because I wanted to do some more work on it (and probably shorten it). In honor of Robert Scoble's well-earned vacation from blogging, I've decided to post it in its original form. Some references may be slightly dated.]
Posted from Scoble Country – December, 2004
Although definitely not by design or intention, I spent the past month or so deep in the heart of Robert Scoble country. Scoble, as you probably know, is one of the best and best-known of all bloggers.
What he is most known for is the amazing number of blogs he monitors on a daily basis. While my research at SharetheOPML.com and other places, suggests that an accurate estimate of the number of blogs monitored is in the 700 range, you will often see reports that Scoble monitors more than a thousand blogs, suggestions that the number is closer to 2,000 and some speculation that Scoble has his eyes on all 4 or 6 million blogs in existence.
I use the word “monitor” for a reason. Like many longtime bloggers, Scoble doesn’t visit each of the blogs he reads. Instead, he subscribes to the “feeds” of these blogs, using a newsreader. It’s the only way you can realistically keep pace with that many blogs. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, take a look at an article I wrote on the subject last year in which I tried to explain RSS feeds and newsreaders in plain, non-technical language.
I’ve forgotten which newsreader Scoble uses, but I use FeedDemon, which is my choice as Software Product of the Year. Nick Bradbury, the individual behind FeedDemon, is my choice for Most Valuable Player in the Blogosphere. FeedDemon is that good.
By any standard measure, I’m a “feed-dominant” Internet user. RSS feeds and newsreaders have completely changed my Internet experience and my long-established Internet habits. For a long time, I’ve gotten a chuckle when bloggers post about how they are “addicted” to RSS because they are subscribed to 50, 80, even 100 feeds.
Still, I didn’t think of myself as being in the land of Scoble.
In fairness, if you check me out in SharetheOPML, I once reached number 11 in number of feeds with 732, but I thought of that as a kind of stunt.
About a month or so ago, I lost a bit of discipline and started to subscribe to every feed that seemed interesting or that someone recommended highly – just to check them out. Let me note that I subscribed in a responsible fashion. I never subscribed to feeds using any kind of automatic updating where I hit a blog server automatically many times in a day. In fact, I generally updated all my feeds once or twice a day.
At some point, I know see, I found myself in Scoble Country, getting a glimpse of what Scoble’s daily life must be like. Let’s just say I was well north of 600 blogs/feeds that I monitored.
A few days ago, I was aggressively cleaning and organizing folders in FeedDemon and ran into some problems that helped me decide that it was time to leave Scoble Country and take a more refined approach to feeds.
However, it was a glorious experience in a strangely beautiful land. I’m not Scoble, but I feel I got a glimpse of his world. I can’t recommend the trip to everyone, but, if you are adventurous, it’s quite a place to be – at least for a while.
For those who know better than to make that expedition (thought question: is being afraid that you’ll enjoy it too much really a legitimate reason not to try it?), let me share some of my observations.
1. Scoble Really is Amazing. I know that I’ll shade the truth and underestimate the time commitment involved in reading feeds, so I suspect Scoble does as well. Let’s just say that you’ll not be spending any less than two hours a day reading feeds. And I’m a really fast reader. To sustain Scoble’s level for the period of time he has done and still produce the output that he has is mind-boggling.
2. Consuming Lots of Feeds Leads To A Strong Feeling of Being Tapped into the World, Aware of What’s Happening and Attuned to the Action. Unfortunately, the same feeling makes it extremely difficult to step away. It’s not exactly addictive, but there’s both an urge to stay current and an urge to expand the world that you monitor.
3. The Number of Excellent Bloggers Will Consistently Surprise You; So Will the Number of People You Know Who Have No Familiarity Whatsoever with Many of the Bloggers You Read on a Daily Basis. My approach, like Scoble’s is to be as expansive as possible in the types of blogs/feeds I read. I don’t understand people who monitor only blogs in their small area of interest.
4. Although Many Blogs Have Feeds, Not All Feeds are From Blogs. From newspapers to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, many traditional resources have RSS feeds, although they are not blogs. There are also some well-known blogs that do not have feeds. Those blogs ceased to exist when you become “feed-dominant.” For example, I want to read Andrew Sullivan’s blog, but since I can’t find a feed, his blog is no longer part of my daily world.
5. Most of the Talk of VCs and Others That Focuses on the Business Potential of Blogs in Isolation from Feeds Seems a Little Silly Once You Live in the RSS World. I’ve come to believe that the Weblogs, Inc. model of blogging falls apart in a newsreader world. I’ve unsubscribed to all of the feeds I’ve tried that machine gun 20 posts a day with little or no effort to identify which ones are most important. I have some ideas that I think will work over the long-term, but blog-focused business models may be recipes for creating another dot-com bubble. As someone shouted on one of the business shows on cable this weekend, E-A-R-N-I-N-G-S.
6. Increasing Feed Input Necessarily Reduces Blogging Output. I understand why Scoble uses a link blog. I got a lot of great ideas to post about, but I generally ended up with a “To Blog About” folder that had hundreds of items in it. Go to Scoble Country when you are in a cycle where you want to listen more than you want to talk.
7. In Scoble Country, You Can See Many Patterns in Blogging. It’s fascinating to see stories work their way across many different areas of the blog world. It’s fascinating to see new areas of blogging appear and become dynamic. It’s fascinating to see new bloggers burst on the scene. It’s fascinating to see bloggers who spent months criticizing Bush on a daily basis announce that, after much deliberation and even though it might come as a surprise, they are endorsing John Kerry.
8. There is a Relentless Movement Toward the New in the Blog World. I straddle the fence on this issue, but I tend to be a critic of the emphasis on the new. It’s pretty common to see ten or twenty mentions of a new blog or new blogger (or, in the case of Judge Posner, one or two hundred mentions). If you stay with these blogs for a month or two, you’ll see that many of them dry up and disappear. On the other hand, Sabrina Pacifici at BeSpacific.com can do a consistently excellent job, be widely respected, and rarely receive a mention.
9. One of Most Common Blog World Patterns is the Brushfire. If you monitor a lot of feeds, you’ll see stories that simply take off and blaze across a large number of blogs over the course of a few days. Because of the emphasis on the “new,” most of the hottest stories burn themselves out in pretty short order. Many “hot” stories fade away, often without any resolution. That’s one reason you see some discussion about the need to search for “conversations.”
10. The Blog World Has Many Pockets, Each with Its Own Culture. Not surprisingly, I’m most familiar with the world of legal blogs, commonly known as blawgs. The blawg world has its own culture. It’s quite different than other pockets of blogging. Here’s one example. In large part because most of the long-time legal bloggers know each other very well, we have developed a model where if one legal blogger posts a story, the rest of us will usually not repeat the same story (i.e., we step away because Denise or Ernie or another blogger already “covered” it). We blog with the sense that readers of our blogs read all of the same blogs. There’s an unstated group dynamic at work. If a legal blogger writes about the same story or topic another legal blogger writes about, it almost always involves giving credit (and usually a compliment) to the original blogger, and then an expansion on the story rather than a simple reposting. In contrast, in the world of marketing and PR blogs, bloggers commonly post on the same topics or stories. As a result, it is easy for an outsider to see what stories are most important simply by counting the number of mentions. In blawgs, it can be more subtle – a big story might have only a few mentions.
11. The Blog World Can Be Surprisingly Insular and References to “The Bloggers” Really Do Not Make Much Sense. Again, let me use legal blogs as an example. It is quite rare for posts from lawyer bloggers to be picked up outside the group of legal blogs. In fact, the legal blogs are subdivided into law professors, practicing lawyers, law students, law librarians and, to a limited extent, consultants to the legal industry. There is not as much crossover among these subsets as you might expect. Of these subsets, I’ll tell you that the law librarian blogs are the most valuable. The law professor blogs probably get the most play outside the legal space. In the case of practicing lawyer blogs, you can almost always trace movement into the blog world at large through Ernie, Denise and, more recently, Matt Homann. In the rest of the blog world, you will also see a number of “nodes” that connect various groups of bloggers. Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, Doc Searls and the group commonly referred to as the “A-List Bloggers” are important nodes and gateways that help move content out of specific blog realms and into the blog world at large. Very few other bloggers have the same impact, but there are other significant nodes. Steve Rubel is just one recent example.
12. Reading Blogs (Not Unlike Reading Newspapers) Places a Premium on Being Able to Read Critically and Assess the Reliability of Information. Being able to read critically and assess what information you can rely upon has become, if it wasn’t already, the most important skill an Internet user can have. Children in school can be taught to improve these skills. What happens to those who have long left the education system? I see the increasingly important rule of librarians, but I’m not sure where we are headed. In Scoble Country, the sheer number of points of view can help you evaluate information or it can leave you confused. However, relying on one source will only become more problematic.
13. The Feed-reading Experience is Vastly Different from the Blog-reading Experience and Many People Do Not Appreciate the Difference. This point is one to think carefully about. When in Scoble Country, you rarely visit a blog in the traditional sense. RSS has been described by J.D. Lasica as “News that comes to you.” Those five words contain the revolution. I’m a regular reader of many blogs that I rarely, if ever, visit. I couldn’t tell you what they look like, what ads or blogrolls are there, or any other details. I make no value judgment about that; it’s just the way it is. If you accept that bloggers like me are important opinion influencers, this fact is something that you’ll need to understand and adjust for.
14. There are Two or Three (or More) Very Different Newsreader Experiences. I started out reading RSS feeds in a newsreader called Amphetadesk. The experience was very much like visiting a huge, long web page that collected all the posts in the feeds you subscribed to. You scrolled through the page to get your information. In that world, full-text feeds and graphics were bothersome, especially if you weren’t interested in the post. I enjoyed writing clever (at least to me) excerpt feeds, which were perfect for Amphetadesk. Later, the Outlook-style three-pane newsreaders like FeedDemon became more dominant. Some people criticized me for offering only excerpt feeds because I was “forcing them to visit my blog to read my posts” unlike the consumer-friendly full-text feeds. I looked at a three-pane reader and immediately saw the problem. A bit wistfully, I moved to full-text feeds. So many people use Bloglines as a newsreader service that it makes sense to be aware of their user experiences. RSS feeds may now be handled in Firefox or on MyYahoo.com. Three-pane newsreader users tend to use folders and subfolders to organize feeds. Dave Winer prefers an undifferentiated mix of feeds in reverse chronological order. Your visit to Scoble Country might be vastly different than mine and I generally try not to make a lot of assumptions about the universality of my experience with feeds.
15. If You Don’t Understand the Difference Among Headline Feeds, Excerpt Feeds and Full-text Feeds, Your Blog May Fail Without You Ever Understanding Why. The rules on the selection of types of feeds have solidified. If you generate headline feeds, you lose. No one likes them. When I decide to streamline my feed subscriptions, I use the common rule of unsubscribing from headline feeds. Poof, you’re gone. There is a general preference for full-text feeds these days. If you use excerpt feeds, you must have compelling content or give a good description. If you don’t, your audience will tend to move on rather than click-through to your blog to read the full post. In Scoble Country, I got very close to using a “delete all excerpt feeds” approach when pruning my number of subscriptions. Unfortunately for many the new blog-focused approaches initiated by established media companies, generating a headline feed to “protect your content” or “drive traffic” to your ads probably guarantees that the bloggers with the most influence will not become part of your site’s audience. In general, you want to go with a full-text feed or give a choice of full-text and excerpt. For me, I favor full-text all the time.
16. Feed-Readers Turn Some Traditional Blog Expectations On Their Heads. Remember that in Scoble Country I’m rarely visiting your blog’s site. Lots of the features of many blogs no longer are in play. I’ve gotten a fair amount of criticism for my policy of not enabling comments (and I’ve recently turned off trackbacks as well). I have my reasons – they may or may not be compelling to you – for not allowing comments. They apply to my current blog and what I want to do with it. Comments might well make great sense in other blogs I might do and they definitely make sense for other people. However, in Scoble Country, comments don’t really exist. I’m not going to visit your page to check the comments. Again, I make no value judgment; it’s simply a fact of life when you are monitoring hundreds of feeds. Some people do feeds of their comments – I find them the most confusing things in the world. If you live in the world of comments and trackbacks, Scoble Country might not be for you.
17. Plenty Of People Seem to Have Found The One True Path Of Blogging – None Of Them Agree – But Most of Them Are Happy to Lecture Others. Follow a lot of blogs for even a short period of time and you’ll see plenty of examples of people telling other people how they are violating the fundamental principles of blogging. For example, some will tell you that I don’t even have a blog because I don’t enable comments. Others say that having an RSS feed is the key element. Lots of people are trying lots of different tools at lots of different levels of skill and experience. I say, let a thousand flowers bloom. You will see a lot of this “inside baseball” talk – the amount of it will surprise you. I remember several times over more than nine years I’ve had a website when someone would send me an email blasting me for using the “wrong” font or the “wrong” size of font on my pages and generally trashing me. I would usually wait a day or two and patiently explain to them how their browser settings, not my barebones HTML skills, were the cause of the problem. None ever apologized or said thank you. I highlight this point just as small effort to get people to calm down a bit and be a little more polite this time. Bloggers are doing the best they can. We’re happy for any help or advice, but accusing people of heresy in your first contact generally does not work well.
18. Newsreader Collection Tools Are OK, But What the Heck Do You Do with All That You Collect? FeedDemon has several good tools to tag and collect posts that you want to keep. I really like its News Bins, for example. I’m intrigued by the Omea Reader’s approach to organizing, managing and linking info that you collect. Onfolio is another program I hear a lot about. The simple fact is that you can easily get overrun by the sheer volume of collected materials. It’s difficult to take action on them. A folder you call “To Blog About” could easily have hundreds or thousands of items in it, which makes it something you can laugh about, but not something that helps you post to your blog. This area is a prime laboratory for personal knowledge management tools.
19. I Started to Understand the Notion of Memes. In Scoble Country, you start to see trends before they become trends and ideas before they become ideas. You also see how they travel, coalesce, take shape and change. That’s memes.
20. There Are Some Big Names Who Blog. When I think about it, I move slightly away from the “News that comes to you” approach. I don’t disagree with it, but I change the notion of “news” a bit. I’m now getting the writings of people whose books I’ve read, who’ve influenced my thinking and who are the kinds of people you simply enjoy reading their thoughts and ideas. In many, many fields and areas of interest, you will find significant thought leaders appearing regularly in your newsreader. Business guru, Tom Peters, and science fiction legend, William Gibson, are just two of my examples. In narrow areas, you may well find the leading authority in the field showing up in your newsreader. That’s cool.
21. The Monetization Debate Looks Different From Where You Stand. There’s a lot of discussion these days about ways bloggers may appropriately derive financial benefit from their blogs. In my opinion, almost anything has to better than the current wave of prominent bloggers begging readers to leave a few bucks in the tip jar so they can get a new laptop computer or pay for hosting. I’m very careful on these issues because of the role of lawyers in Internet history, starting with the lawyers who invented spam. The hottest issue today is “ads in feeds.” Dave Winer, for example, is a big opponent of ads in feeds. Once I realized how he consumes feeds, his point of view was much easier for me to understand. In comparison, if you use a newsreader like FeedDemon, adding a sponsor logo or small add at the bottom of each post in your feed seems quite reasonable, especially if you give a subscriber a choice of an excerpt feed with no ad or a full-text feed with an ad. Keep the ad non-intrusive and I have no problem at all – I’m happy to see you make some money to support your blogging habit. Put an ad in an excerpt feed and I’m gone. In a newsreader that does not separate feeds into separate folders, it would not take many ads before your experience would be degraded. I’m now more understanding of Winer’s approach, but my thinking is more affected by the interest I’ve already had for putting ads (or, really, small and tasteful logo graphics with a tagline) into my feed.
22. Scoble Country Reminds Me of the Pre-Yahoo World. In the early days of the World Wide Web, before the heyday of search engines, you built your own paths into the web, collecting links to useful sites and resources and trying to find knowledgeable guides. It’s very similar in Scoble Country. Scoble is certainly an excellent guide. I trust his pointers, and those of others I’ve found, far more than any of the search tools. Again, keep your eyes open for those librarian blogs and feeds.
23. Amazingly High Quality Information is Readily Available. I’m tinkering with my business plan for next year. I have a folder with an absolutely amazing collection of advice, tips, discussions and other resources that will help me. How about tips on using Microsoft Office from members of the Microsoft Office design team? There are rich resources out there. The more people think that the blog world is the realm of teenage diaries, the more competitive advantage I have and the more cool stuff I can learn that others won’t bother to learn. You do it your way and I’ll do it my way.
24. When You Leave Scoble Country, You Can’t Assume People Are Familiar with the Same Information You Are. When I was in law school at Georgetown, I often found that I would get swept up in the Washington controversy of the day that was gripping everyone. I’d talk to a friend in another part of the country and find that they hadn’t even heard of the issue. Watch for that phenomenon when you are in Scoble Country. Not too many people know the same players and it’s a relatively small number of people who are conversant with issues that may be front and center in the blog world. Go to a party and start telling people that Robert Scoble says such and such and count the number of people with blank looks. Or use Adam Curry and podcasting in the same sentence at your office holiday party and see the reaction you get. It might be a different story next year, but you have to keep this blog thing in perspective.
25. About Those Clever Blog Names. The cute blog names make sense when people visit your blog and see the context, but they lose a lot of impact when you are in Scoble Country. For many feeds I get, I cannot see what the name of the author is. The tendency of bloggers to refer to each other in their blogs by their first names compounds the problem. Believe it or not, I put a lot of thought into picking the name, DennisKennedy.Blog, because I wanted the blog to be big enough to let me do anything I felt like doing. Picking a name like Legal Technology Blog or Technology Law Blog would have been too limiting for me. There are only a handful of blogs that prominently use the blogger’s name in the title. Check out how your blog title appears in a newsreader. OK, I admit I like my approach, but Jeff Beard has a good approach because his feed is labeled “Law Tech Guru by Jeff Beard.” I may start another blog one of these days and I lean toward calling it something like “Dennis Kennedy’s CleverBlogNameGoesHere Blog” just because of how I want it to appear in news readers.
Concluding Thoughts on My Trip to Scoble Country.
I tip my hat to Scoble. I had a great time in Scoble Country, but I’m glad to be back. I’m not sure when or if I’ll return. To no one’s surprise, I learned that I’d rather be Dennis Kennedy than Robert Scoble, or anyone else for that matter. Now we all know that, but it’s good to learn the lesson again from time to time. Keep on Scobleizing, Robert, but be sure to think about taking a little break one of these days. We’ll keep it going while you’re away, but you have to promise to come back from that break.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

The Law Professor Blog Tour Continues – Today We Visit TaxProf Blog

Friday, February 18th, 2005

I’ve gotten a good number of private emails in the last few days – unfortunately, none of them from law professors – from my recent, and increasingly desperate, attempts to attract the attention of the law professor bloggers and to prove that the current divide between law professors and practicing lawyers is not as absolute as it may seem and that, in fact, my outreach efforts can help bridge the chasm.
The emails are from practicing lawyers lamenting the split between academia and the practice and generally telling the story of one perceived slight or another. It’s kind of sad.
Other emails are of the nudge-nudge, wink-wink variety and suggest that I really do know and have conversations with many of the law professor bloggers and that the Law Professor Blog Tour is, in fact, an elaborate joke. If only that were true.
I will admit that I have at various times over the years met a few of the law professor bloggers or been on the same email lists with them, including a short conversation with the captain of the A-List law professor blogging team, Larry Lessig. (Does anyone think that Professor Lessig’s occasional struggles with relatively straightforward technology issues (see comments to this post for a few of many alternatives) undercut his credibility on technology law issues?)
But, I digress.
On the tour today, we visit Paul Caron‘s unfailingly excellent TaxProf Blog. I must confess to having been a tax lawyer for more than ten years of my legal career, so I may find more appeal in this blog than others do. But it is getting to be tax season.
Caron’s blog is the model I would point any law professor considering a blog to study as part of the preparation for launching his or her own blog. It’s informative, it’s interesting and it has a great mix of academic materials and popular materials, along with links to great resources. Again, I’m not sure Professor Caron has tenure (he definitely should), so I hope I’m not blowing his chances by making favorable comments about his blog.
Interestingly, Caron has a recent post on the issue of the taxability of money received via “tip jars” on blogs. He sums up the issue and the relevant case law nicely and it’s a very good introductory discussion of the legal issues.
However, I’m not really persuaded by the arguments or the academic analysis that urges that these “tips” are not income for tax purposes. They might not be, but the case law analysis gives me little comfort.
My approach is both more practical and more simple. It goes like this:
1. Does Amazon send you a 1099 or other IRS form reporting the tips as income? I admire the courage of anyone who files a return using different numbers (or not including numbers) reported to the IRS.
2. It’s called a “tip” jar, not a “gift” jar.
3. Waiters, waitresses and others have onerous requirements and procedures for reporting tips. Not to make class arguments, but should professor bloggers soliciting tips by tip jars be treated any differently? Why? If I like a waiter’s service and tip 20%, is he entitled to treat the amount over the standard 15% tip as a “gift”? I don’t think so.
4. Bloggers with tip jars actively solicit funds and the language used by bloggers when telling their audiences about “tip jars” almost invariably refers to helping the bloggers “monetize” their blogs or cover costs.
5. In my experience, the IRS will not roll over an play dead when you cite a law review article or two in support of your decision not to report income or take an aggressive stand on a tax issue. Hoewever, you might get lucky and find an agent who is so inclined.
As I’ve always said, I’m the practical kind, especially on tax issues, but I’m always interested in learning good ways to save money on taxes. If I used a “tip jar,” I’d be reporting the income. Of course, the tax on the extra $5 of tip money I’d be fortunate to get is not all that big a deal.
The TaxProf Blog – highly recommended, even for people who are not tax lawyers.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

The Law Professor Blog Tour Continues – The Yin Blog

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

I suddenly realized that there might be a chance that the law professor blogs might actually notice my blog before I got the chance to mention all of my favorite law professor blogs, so I decided to accelerate my pace a bit.
I wanted to be sure that I mentioned my absolute favorite law professor blog – The Yin Blog. I’m not sure that either Tung Yin or his co-blogger, Kevin J. Heller, have tenure yet, so I’m hoping that my favorable mention of their blog doesn’t hurt their chances for getting tenure. My apologies in advance.
I don’t think that I can give a higher compliment than to say that here are law professors that you actually would want to sit down and have a beer with. Although they (in fairness, that’s Kevin’s gig on the blog) can get a little too political for my taste (about one political post a month usually does it for me), they cover a lot of topics with great style and a sense of humor (Oops, now that may have cost them tenure).
Not to cause dissension among the co-bloggers, but the blog is named after Tung Yin and he’s clearly the star. I’m so impressed that I’m now telling prospective law students that they need to consider going to law school at Iowa, and I’ve added Iowa to my mental list of top 20 law schools. It’s the power of blogging at work.
Tung and I share some common interests in science fiction and TV. This post on spy TV shows is brilliant and my views are quite similar. Hmm, maybe that’s the reason I think the post is brilliant. I’m assuming that his silence on the new season of MI-5 reflects my silence because of the unspeakably horrifying plot directions that have all-but-gutted the show we knew, and from which there is almost no chance of recovery.
So, I give you The Yin Blog, a truly great law professor blog, no joking around.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/).]

Springsteen Announces New Album for DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

I must admit that for more than 25 years there’s never been much news that’s more exciting to me than the news of a new Brice Springsteen album and tour.
I’m thrilled to tell you that Bruce has chosen DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week to announce the April release of his new album, Devils & Dust, and a follow-up tour.
Here’s the text of the press release from Columbia Records:
“Columbia Records will release Bruce Springsteen’s nineteenth album, ‘Devils & Dust,’ on April 26. ‘Devils & Dust’ features twelve new Springsteen songs.
‘Devils & Dust’ Track List
1. Devils & Dust
2. All The Way Home
3. Reno
4. Long Time Comin’
5. Black Cowboys
6. Maria’s Bed
7. Silver Palomino
8. Jesus Was an Only Son
9. Leah
10. The Hitter
11. All I’m Thinkin’ About
12. Matamoras Banks
‘Devils & Dust’ was produced by Brendan O’Brien, who first worked with Springsteen on the acclaimed CD, ‘The Rising.’ The new album was recorded at Thrill Hill Recording Studios in Los Angeles and New Jersey with additional engineering at Southern Tracks Recording in Atlanta.
Springsteen is planning a tour to accompany the release of the album. Details will be announced shortly.
* * * * *
www.brucespringsteen.net”
Stories indicate that this will not be an E Street Band album and Bruce may be working with other musicians, including the phenomenal Steve Jordan, who played drums on and produced Patti Scialfa’s 23rd Street Lullaby album, my runaway choice as album of the year for 2004.
Jim and Dr. Jeff – Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Milwaukee?
I may offer a $1,000 discount on my speaking and seminar fees to organizations that have me speak on concert dates and provide me with good tickets to shows.
Good news indeed.