[Note: On what I'm sure will be the last eighty degree day of the year in St. Louis, I took a long bike ride. As long-time readers of this blog have learned, my long bike rides often lead to long blog posts. I think that this one is worth your time investment in reading it, but wanted to give you warning that it's kind of long.]
One of the smartest moves Matt and I made when putting BlawgThink together was to bring in event planner JoAnna Forshee to handle many of the details for us. If you are ever planning an event, JoAnna should be on your short list of people to talk to.
Matt, JoAnna and I had our last conference call today before BlawgThink. When we hung up, I decided to take a long bike ride, like a long exhale after a period of really hard work.
My wife always tells me to take more pleasure in what I have accomplished and not focus so much on things I haven’t gotten done. I thought I’d try that exercise on the bike ride.
It always seems that when you work on a big project, there are really two projects – the one you initially envisioned and the one that you really have produced.
I wanted to leave the fantasy project behind and get more fully focused on the reality.
The initial vision, or the fantasy, of course, is vital to the process. It gives you the motivation, the vision, the goals.
I took a quick look at some of my early notes on BlawgThink and set off on my ride.
What struck me, as I rode, was that the reality of the BlawgThink we have created is far more like the initial vision than I thought. In several important ways (speakers, sponsors and quality of attendees), it exceeds what we mapped out initially.
As I rode, I decided this was good. I also owned up to the fact that both Matt and I could fill a whole stadium for an event and still be thinking about “the ones that got away.” As I rode, I laughed about that and decided that my wife was right – I could let the fantasy event blow away with the wind and focus on what we have accomplished.
As people who know us can see, Matt and I really like working with each other on these things. I appreciate greatly Matt’s enthusiasm, passion, endless great ideas, boundless energy and capacity for hard work, and his ability to live on the telephone. Together, we’ve developed a knack for bringing people together, for making things happen, and getting people to think seriously about ideas, innovation and action.
As I rode, I then started to think more specifically about the actual BlawgThink and I allowed myself, finally, to get excited about the event.
My focus of BlawgThink has always been Day 2. It will be my third experience with Open Space Technology. Open Space is like HTML was for me when I first learned it – I want to do everything in Open Space. I’m so intrigued by the approach and what it accomplishes. The fact that we have a leading Open Space facilitator, Michael Herman, to run Day 2 is one of the coolest things we have put together. Personally, I’d consider going to an Open Space event on any topics, but to go to one on blogging-related topics is a can’t miss for me.
There is a core notion of Open Space that the people who are there are the right people to be there. It’s an amazing group we’ve put together for Day 2. As Mick Jagger might say, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the opportunity to be part of that session. This is a unique chance to take part in a discussion of legal blogging with a group of legal bloggers at a point where most of us agree the world of legal blogging is about to change and move into a new direction. Everyone has to make their own choices in life, but, if you are passionate and care about what you are doing in blogging, it has to be hard to stay away. I couldn’t do it.
As I rode, I realized that my experiences at BlogWalk 6 and LexThink 1.0 with Open Space give me a different perspective on Day 2 than others.
So, I turned to Day 1. Here, it struck me that we had really accomplished something. I’ve been saying lately that we have an amazing set of speakers. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But, it seems like a good adjective. I’m not sure where the future of blogging will lead, but I don’t know that you’ll ever again get a set of speakers comparable to this group on this comprehensive set of topics.
Here’s what I see.
You start the day with a choice of (1) long-time legal blogger Brandy Karl giving a blogging 101 talk; (2) leading blog advocate and designer Kevin O’Keefe talking about using blogs for marketing; or (3) long-time blogger and now FeedBurner executive Rick Klau talking about RSS feeds.
Take a break and your choice becomes: (1) one of the acknowledged best writers among legal bloggers, Evan Schaeffer discussing writing great blog posts, (2) Matt Homann talking about using blogs to create a professional impression and build reputation, and (3) a great teacher and one of the first education podcasters, Steve Dembo, teaching about podcasting.
Move on to your choice of: (1) Henry Copeland of BlogAds giving his highly-regarded talk on the “Zen of Blogging”; (2) highly-respected patent Blogger talking about how to put together a practice-specific blog; and (3) in the session Matt and I most wanted to put together for BlawgThink, leading KM experts and bloggers Jack Vinson and Jim McGee discussing collaboration, internal blogging and KM implications (wow!).
Then break for lunch and talk with other attendees and speakers and learn about our sponsors and the great attendance prizes our attendees get – free licenses to MindManager Pro and ResultsManager (yes, you have done the math correctly – the retail value of these licenses exceeds your registration fee).
Then jump back into it with your choice of (1) noted law librarian bloggers Dianne Murley and Bonnie Shucha introducing you to the world of RSS feeds and news aggregators; (2) search engine optimization expert Tim Stanley explaining why Google loves blogs and other issues; and (3) highly-regarded web designer Peter Flashner showing you why blog design matters.
Catch your breath and then choose between: (1) learning about the new world of group blogs and witnessing the first live performance of the RethinkIP group, Matt Buchanan, Steve Nipper and Doug Sorocco; (2) gaining Ernest “Ernie the Attorney” Svensen’s observations from his years of blogging and his recent journey through Hurricane Katrina; and (3) law tech guru Jeff Beard and I discussing some of the advanced blogging tools you can use to improve your blog for you and your audience.
But, there’s more. Move on to choose between: (1) learning about blawgs for firms of every size from Carolyn Elefant, Patrick Lamb, Cathy Kirkman and David Bowerman; (2) ethics experts Ben Cowgill and Will Hornsby discussing the current state of ethical rules for blogs; and (3) ABA webmaster Fred Faulkner leading a discussion on “how did they do that?” about features of blogs that you have seen.
Then, we do something that I think will work really well. Michael Herman will lead a session using Open Space that will help us pull together what we learned today and get us thinking about Day 2.
On Friday evening, we focus on helping build new friendships and learn from each other by putting together small dinner groups led by our speakers.
I may be biased, but that’s a great program.
We’ll kick off Day 2 with a tribute to the feature that helped Matt Homann develop his reputation – a Five by Five, in which Matt and I will moderate a discussion with some of the most-respected of all of the legal bloggers – Sabrina Pacifici, Carolyn Elefant, Ernie Svensen, Tom Mighell and Marty Schwimmer to help us gain some insights and kick off the discussions on Day 2.
As with any event I get involved in, I want you to be tired at the end, but that good kind of tired.
As I rode on (to continue the bike ride metaphor), I then thought about where we are in legal blogging today. In the conversations I have with bloggers, there seems to be a sense that we are definitely reaching a turning point where we move into a second generation of legal blogging. It’s perhaps hard to pin down what this transition will be, but I suspect it will involve some of the following: (1) group blogs and other collaborations (for example, RethinkIP and Between Lawyers), (2) a much greater focus on RSS and use of RSS feeds, (3) loose networking of various kinds (the Law.com blog network; the Law Profs network and other future networks); (4) combinations that cross legal blogging categories (expect to see law librarians, lawyers, law students and, I hope but am somewhat pessimistic, law professors putting together efforts based initially on blog combinations); and (5) the adoption and creation of the web tools known under the category of “Web 2.0″ and other experiments with technologies that might be considered “e-lawyering” (the PatentMojo experiment is the first and best example – the jury is still out on that Lawyer X experiment at Between Lawyers).
Although I’m reluctantly to saddle these trends with a moniker, you can think of these developments as Blawg 2.0. In many different ways, these developments will be the subject of discussion at BlawgThink by some of the people who are moving these trends forward.
If you think simply in terms of blog collaborations, I’m looking forward to having the RethinkIP group, LexThink and four out of the five of the Between Lawyers group meeting face-to-face for the first time and getting the chance to talk about our experiences in collaboration with Jack Vinson, Jim McGee and others.
There will be a lot of energy there.
Here’s what I think. If you have read all the way to this point, are a blogger or planning to be a blogger or are greatly interested in the blogging world, I suspect that you are now wishing you could be there. If that’s the case, let Matt and me know. We’re happy with where we are, but we do want to enable the people who are meant to be there to be there.
And, as I finished my ride, I realized that, once again, long bike rides lead to long blog posts.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by LexThink!™ – The Conference, Re-imagined. LexThink! – Think big thoughts, do cool things, change the world. November 11 & 12 – LexThink’s BlawgThink 2005.