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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

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week – Let’s Go Racin’

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

Well, today is my birthday. Dennis, that is, not my blog. I was born in 1958, so that makes me, hmmm, 47. Hard to believe.
Beating the sleep apnea problem last year has made a big difference for me and I look forward to this year with great optimism.
I’m also pleased to announce another special benefit for readers of DennisKennedy.Blog. I’ve arranged for readers of DennisKennedy.Blog to get a special viewing of two NASCAR qualifying races for the Daytona 500 today! All you need to do is to tune in to the FX Channel at 12:00 Central time and you will get a “private” viewing of two special 30-lap races this afternoon, presented as a token of appreciation for readers of DennisKennedy.Blog in honor of my birthday. No password required.
I have been overwhelmed by the number of people asking how to give me a gift for my birthday. As you may know, I’ve set up a special Amazon wish list to help you select and send a birthday present to me – just one more useful service from DennisKennedy.Blog.
I’d like to send a special happy birthday message to my birthday mates, Michael Jordan, Jim Brown and the rest of the February 17ers.
It’s hard to believe that I normally am about as low-key as you can get about my birthday. Give someone a blog and look at what happens!

Scoble on Getting Attention for Your Company, Product or Service

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

The renowned Robert Scoble has one of the best explanations I’ve seen about the importance of bloggers in helping you get out your story about your company, product or service.
Set aside some time to read Scoble’s post a few times and to think about it and its implications. There’s a bit of “inside baseball” stuff in the post (but I concur that Buzz Bruggeman is amazing) that you can skim over for now so you can focus on the main points.
I’ve made many of these same points to people in private for the past year or so.
Consider these comments from Scoble:
“But, demonstrate you read our blogs and that you have something of value for our readers. Keep your message short and conversational. Don’t expect us to talk about you. Just present it as something that we might be interested in.”
If you’ve read my blog, especialy my posts about reciprocal link requests, you’ll recognize that Scoble and I have a similar approach.
When you consider the big picture, Scoble is absolutely right – bloggers can help you get the word out about your company, your product, your service.
That should raise some important questions for you. What can you do to help bloggers in return? What is a fair exchange? Does some notion of the Golden Rule come into play? Is it fair to pay someone more to empty your waste baskets than what you might spend to help bloggers who can create legitimate “buzz” on your company, product or service? Do I have to bring Hayek into the picture for you?
I don’t have the answers for you. You’ve got to decide how you run your business and live your life. I simply suggest that you think carefully about these questions and Scoble’s post.
The last thing I want to do is to turn my blog into something where people need to pay to get mentioned, and I hope that my comments are not construed in that way. That’s not what I’m about and I don’t believe it’s what the medium is about. However, I don’t think that it’s unreasonable for me to ask you to at least think about ways you might help me accomplish things I want to accomplish in my business and my life if I am able to help you accomplish things you want to accomplish. I am a little surprised that I feel the need to say aloud this very basic principle.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

The Hayekian Structure of Blogging

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

As part of my continuing, and increasingly desperate, effort to reach out and attempt to get the law professor blogs to take notice of practicing lawyer bloggers (especially me), I again highlight one of the law professor blogs I read on a regular basis.
Larry Ribstein’s Ideoblog is a regular read in FeedDemon for me. Some people believe that I am having fun with this series of posts on law professor blogs (and perhaps I am), but the truth is that I am mentioning blogs that I regularly read the feeds of and find quite valuable.
Today, Professor Ribstein made an excellent point that I probably would have never otherwise considered in his post called “The law and economics of blogging.”
Here, at least for me, is the money quote:
“[T]his sort of blogging (I’m still deciding what to call it) involves at least two characteristics: (1) a Hayekian system for creating knowledge; and (2) an alternative incentive system for spurring this creation. . . . By a Hayekian system, I mean that the web is a decentralized information market, where nearly infinite inputs, each perhaps inconsequential, create valuable knowledge.”
While some other practicing lawyer bloggers might use words like “impenetrable” to describe this passage, I, on the other hand, after an initial bout of dizziness, am quite intrigued by Professor Ribstein’s approach and his conclusions, which I like:
“This leads to some specific applications.
+ We should be wary about creating broad vicarious liability for co-bloggers. This is not the sort of business in the conventional sense that generally gives rise to partnership-type liability, even if the blogger does take ads.
+ “Loss-leader” posters should not face the sort of professional liability that is triggered by conventional professional advice.
+ Bloggers should get journalist-type (though possibly at a lower level) first amendment protection, e.g., as from testifying in the Plame case.”
Here’s my interpretation: Look, bloggers just want to have fun and we are having fun (even the lawyer bloggers are having fun!), so, for God’s sake can we go slow on having the non-blogging lawyers and legislators move in and ruin the fun for everyone.
If it takes a Hayekian analysis to keep the fun in blogging, then, by all means, bring on the Hayek. Can I get Hayek’s works on iTunes?
Professor Ribstein’s post sets out his thoughts for an upcoming presentation next month. Illinois is close enough to St. Louis that I might actually attend this presentation.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Week – ABA TECHSHOW Discounts!

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

OK, I can’t really give you my own special discount on the ABA TECHSHOW 2005 registration fee. But I can let you know that there is an early bird discount of $100 that expires on Friday. It makes a difference.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Week – Get Your Gmail Invitations!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

Like others with gmail accounts, I’ve found that I have a stash of gmail invitations; it looks like I have 98 of them.
For readers of DennisKennedy.Blog, I’m offering an invitation for any reader who requests one, until they run out. Simply email me at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com, with your real name and contact info and I’ll send you an invitation. I’ll do this as long as I have invitations to give away.
A personal note or words of encouragement are not required, but will be appreciated.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Celebrating the Second Blawgiversary of DennisKennedy.Blog – Fun! Prizes! Gifts! Discounts! Surprises!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

On February 15, 2003, I launched DennisKennedy.Blog using a quote from Babylon 5 as the title of my first post: “And so it begins.” As my friends like to point out, I’d been thinking about and talking about a blog for a lo-o-o-ong time before I launched it.
The blog was an early birthday present to I gave myself in 2003. My birthday is February 17. One of the interesting things (at least to me) in my life is that I have a surprising number of very close friends who have birthdays in the few days before and after my birthday.
I wanted to celebrate my blogging anniversary, my birthday and my friends’ birthdays with a special week-long blog party, from February 15 through February 21.
Here’s what you’ll see in the next few days:
+ Special free downloads! Including a PDF archive file of all my posts.
+ Gmail Invitations!
+ Discounts! On non-legal services, products and seminars ordered this week.
+ More Answers to Your Questions!
+ Acceptance of Your Linked-in Invitations!
+ Chances to Donate to SOme of My Favorite Charities! Use this link to donate to my favorite charities.
+ Chances to Buy Me Presents! See this special Amazon Wishlist.
+ Sponsorship Opportunities! Publicize your company by sponsoring a day of DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Week.
+ Surprises!
Watch for more information and details each day! Email me with best wishes, questions, requests for info about sponsorships and whatever else is on your mind at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

The Most Dangerous Move a Driver Can Make Around a Cyclist?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

I haven’t gotten a lot of chances to ride my bike this winter. Blame the weather, my inability to get connected with my winter cycling buddy, other burdens and distractions.
Today’s ride gave me a chance to shake off some of rust, both physically and in my riding skills.
I was barely three blocks from home when a large SUV slapped the rust off with a move that is truly one of the most dangerous things a driver can do around someone on a bicycle, or any other non-automobile set of wheels. My bicycling guru, Howard Smith, took great pains several years ago when I got back into riding to warn me about this situation. I haven’t seen it in quite a while, but it is shocking when it happens.
I mention this to help you think about the situation and, I hope, avoid it.
Here’s the scenario:
I’m riding my bike on a through street, watching for traffic coming from the side streets.
Here’s the sequence of events:
1. A car approaches from behind as I approach I side street where I’ve already seen that no cars are waiting at the stop sign. There is no question that the driver of the approaching car has seen me.
2. The car passes me, swinging a little wide. The little bit of a wide swing actually contributes to the problem, because I start to believe that the driver is considerate and giving me extra space.
3. As the car passes, I start to accelerate after slowing slightly as the car approaches.
4. With no signal or other warning, the car makes a right turn across my path onto the side street. If you mapped out the scene, I was probably at the epicenter of the driver’s right side blind spot.
5. I hit the brakes hard and, although I’m not saying that I did this, someone without maximum self-control might start yelling at the driver, using language some might find inappropriate. The driver, looking in the rear view mirror and oblivious to what has just happened, wonders what my problem is.
6. (Optional) The cyclist spends most of the rest of his or her ride composing a blog post about the dangers drivers of large SUVs pose to cyclists.
What is shocking about this move is how sudden and unexpected it is and how horrified the driver of the car would be if he or she realized or saw what he or she had done. I’ll also note that I was much closer to the car when I hit the brakes than you might expect from the just-the-facts tone of my narrative.
For me, being three blocks into my ride, it actually helped get the blood and adrenalin flowing so I didn’t need much more warm-up.
So, I spent a good chunk of the rest of my ride thinking about safety. It’s a big issue because it seems like driver’s education classes dropped the chapter on sharing the road with bicycles many years ago. Many drivers simply do not know what to do around cyclists and unnecessarily place cyclists into danger. There is another set of drivers who are aggressively hostile toward cyclists, and proud of it. I actually know some of these people. I will not ride my bike in their neighborhoods.
My conclusion is that I can do nothing less than take on 100% of the effort on my safety and not rely on drivers to accept any of the burdens. It’s not that I ride super-cautiously, but I also assume that I am the one who will need to make the extra effort a meeting between and a driver.
Obviously, I believe that wearing a helmet is essential. I also will not wear headphones or listen to music while riding. Being able to hear cars and other dangers is a must.
What I’ve decided is the biggest danger is unpredictability. That’s the key element of danger in the scenario I sketched out above. The car simply does something much unexpected and, unfortunately, in a way that leaves little time to react. A pothole, grate or broken glass is not a big issue if I know where it is or see it far enough in advance. If I don’t know about it in advance, any of these can turn into a big problem.
What I’ve noticed lately is that it’s the large SUVs that often cause the biggest problems.
A common, easy-to-understand, problem comes with drivers of new SUVs who don’t have a good sense yet of how wide they are. They’ll often come much closer to a rider than they probably believe they have.
The other thing is the surprising number of times a driver of an SUV will look right at you and pull right out in front of you. It’s an amazing phenomenon that used to catch me off guard. You know that the driver is sitting up high enough to see everything and they are looking right at you, but they still pull out in front of you.
After a few of these experiences, I realized that looking at you is a far different thing than seeing you.
Now I have a “safety factor” I assign to any encounter with a car. It works like this:
Safety factor = (looking at you + paying attention + expectation + recognition)
Let me explain.
I wanted to end up with a number for the safety factor between 1 and 100. You might play with the weighting of the elements, but I give each of the four elements a possible score of 25 points. The higher the score, the better.
I think that you need to consider all four elements. Looking at you is not the same as seeing you. The driver must also be paying attention while looking and they must recognize you as someone on a bicycle they need to be concerned about. Recognition improves as expectation increases.
Expectation is a very important factor. During the winter, drivers simply do not expect to see people on bicycles. It’s cold and it’s not summer. During the winter, I assume a score of zero on expectation. This means that the best safety factor I expect when encountering a car in winter is 75 out of 100. In other words, I simply have to be more careful in the winter.
In the classic SUV pulling out in front of you scenario, I score a 25 for looking at you. I mean, they are looking right at me. Where the problem arises most often is in paying attention. If you see a cell phone in hand, you might as well drop the paying attention factor to zero.
Finally, the driver has to put the whole picture together. They must recognize you as a bicyclist who they must deal with as another vehicle on the road. I ride a red bike and usually wear bright colors, but I often notice that drivers do not recognize that I exist or will be surprised as if I appeared out of nowhere. The issue is one of recognition. If a driver is not expecting someone on a bike, they will generally only see cars – that’s what they are looking for.
So, I ride toward a large SUV ready to pull out from a side street. I see that the driver is talking on a cell phone while looking right at me. Assume it is winter time. My safety factor calculation probably goes to 25 and I give serious thought to stopping the bike, getting off of it and standing on the sidewalk or grass until the SUV driver has turned onto the road and gotten out of range.
Another element of safety is position. I can generally do a good job with things that happen in front of me, especially if they occur at a distant beyond the distance required for me to stop. I can also do a pretty good job reacting to things behind me, especially if I’m not wearing headphones or listening to music and if I use a rearview mirror.
The danger comes from something that happens beside me or a very short distance in front of me. I almost have no control over the situation. The “right turn after passing you” scenario involves both of these things.
Let me bring this to an end by talking about the three biggest dangers when riding on a bike trail, or, more accurately, a multi-purpose trail.
I actually found myself in the most dangerous bike trail scenario today, but it is a relatively common one.
In reverse order:
#3. Encountering anyone wearing headphones. It takes ears and eyes to be safe. Walkers, roller-bladers and cyclists listening to music on headphones have a tendency to “zone out.” A common effect is that they will “drift” on the path and, unaware of you, put themselves directly in your path.
#2. Inadequately supervised small children who are unfamiliar or unskilled in riding whatever set of wheels they are riding. Please notice all of the qualifiers. The problem is not the children – they are just being kids. It’s a parental problem. The closest I’ve ever come to hitting a child while riding a bike happened on a trail when I had all but come to a stop and a child did the most unexpected move that he could have made (the child was walking). The parents were walking close by, but not close enough and it was almost a real problem, even though I was barely moving and had moved almost as far out on the wrong side of the path as I could move.
#1. Dogs on any kind of long leash, but especially those reel-em-up leashes. Talk about the ultimate unpredictability. Many trails now seem to post rules on this issue. I like dogs (although I’m allergic to them), but they will do unpredictable things, especially if they encounter another dog. Giving a dog enough leash to let the dog cross the dividing line on a two-lane path is inviting a collision. The concept of a reel-in leash is a good one, but you need to know to use them. In my incident today, the owner had about 15 feet of leash out and the dog crossed over the lane right in front of me, bringing me to a stop while the owner figured out how to reel in the leash. A collision between a dog and a bike will not be a good thing for anyone, but tangling up a dog and a roller-blader would be very bad indeed.
As they say, hey, let’s all be careful out there.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Bicycling Grant’s Trail

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

I celebrated the second anniversary of my blog today in two ways that were just about perfect.
First, is there a better way to celebrate the anniversary of your blawg than with a long phone conversation with the legendary Ernie the Attorney? It was great to do a little catching up.
Second, I took advantage of an unseasonably mild February day in St. Louis to go on a long bike ride to and on the nearby Grant’s Trail. With a cold front heading our way threatening to take 40 degrees off today’s temperatures, I couldn’t resist. The temperature hit 74 degrees today, with not a cloud in the sky. Even the stiff headwind that knocked about 6 to 8 miles an hour off my speed on the return trip could not detract from this ride.
I enjoy having a nice bike trail nearby. Grant’s Trail is named for President Ulysses Grant and you pass by some historic Grant landmarks and Anheuser-Busch’s Grant’s Farm attraction. It’s a relatively flat, paved trail with two lanes and friendly people walking, running, biking and roller-blading. It’s five miles in length, with expansion in the works.
One of my favorite things about the trail is that it is next to the stables and grazing areas for the Budweiser Clydesdales. Many of them were out this afternoon and I noticed one very young colt.
If I ride the trail early on summer mornings, I’ll sometimes happen on a scene with the early morning sun shining off the remnants of a mist rising off the grass and the Clydesdales kicking it up in the fields. It’s quite a spectacular thing.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Are Posts About Group Blogs as Partnerships Ads in Feeds?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

As part of my ongoing commitment to reach out to law professor blogs, I highlight another of the law professor blogs I read regularly – Stephen Bainbridge’s excellent ProfessorBainbridge.com, which covers coporate law and a multitude of other topics.
Professor Bainbridge may have given us the first clear example of the use of an ad in an RSS feed with his post called Are Group Blogs Partnerships?
This ad for his book on corporate law is a good model of the tasteful informercial approach to advertising in RSS feeds that bloggers might adopt successfully. It avoids pop-ups, animations and other intrusive ad techniques. I, for one, got most of the way through the ad before I even realized that it was an ad for the book – a tribute to the professor’s writing skills.
For those, especially those in academia, fundamentally opposed to ads in feeds, I recommend this ad as a good example to study for a model of the types of tasteful and informative ways bloggers can use ads in RSS feeds as a way to monetize blogs.
I have two specific comments about this use of an ad in a feed:
1. Professor Bainbridge neglects a simple addition to the hyperlink to his book that will increase the commission he will receive on purchases through the Amazon Associates program. I’d be happy to share this technique with him.
2. Does this use of advertising undercut the credibility of Professor Bainbridge’s analysis of the legal issues that he discusses in the text of the article? For me, it does not, in part because his analysis is well-reasoned and I’m sure would be echoed by other professors and commentators. However, others might disagree.
This use of advertising in RSS feeds gives us food for thought and an excellent example of a real-world use that can be discussed as part of the “ads in feeds” debate.
As he concludes in his ad, er, post, go buy his book (but preferably from my Amazon Associates link).
Note: The ad appears to be working – only four copies of the book were in stock at Amazon.com when I published this post.
[This post originally appeared on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/.]

Susan Crawford Praises Amateurism in the Blogging Context

Monday, February 14th, 2005

One of the law professor blogs I enjoy reading is Susan Crawford’s blog, which I highly recommend.
Sometimes, as I’ve commented before, you can read the law professor blogs and get the feeling that practicing lawyer blogs don’t even exist. I figure that it’s all a process of education and it’s always good to extend the olive branch (or maybe wave it wildly so the profs notice it) to those in the ivory towers of academe.
Susan penned a Valentine’s euology of sorts for Benjamin Franklin and a mini-ode to amateurism today that very much captures the feeling of energy and potential that I feel in the blogosphere these days.
Unfortunately, at the same time, her post reminded me of the disconnect those of us in the practice feel when we think of our brothers and sisters in academia. The professors praise the amateur ideals of blogging, while those of us outside the walls of academia think of ways to turn pro with our blogs and earn a few dollars for our time and efforts in blogging. The irony, of course, is that we often talk about becoming a professor as one way of turning pro while some professors (and I don’t consider Susan in this group) see themselves as the Platonic ideals of amateurism. Go figure.
It’s no wonder that (1) the Matt Homann for Top 20 Legal Thinker write-in campaign has drawn such interest and (2) you don’t see my name on the list of Top 20 Legal Thinker nominees – I don’t seem to be capable of making these “fine distinctions.” I’m the practical kind.