By Request:: Will Lawyers Adopt Newsreaders?

Q: Do you see feed readers being adopted by many lawyers?
A: No, but I’m not really objective about this. It’s quite strange to be talking about lawyers “adopting” something that I’ve been using on a daily basis for maybe five years. (For an introduction to feed/news/RSS readers, start here.)
Look, it’s 2007 and people are talking about the end of the standalone RSS reader as feed reading gets built into Windows Visa, browsers and web pages. I’ve been writing about using RSS/news/feed readers regularly since 2003 (see here and here, for example).
However, it’s still a rare thing for me to find a lawyer who is using a news reader. Ironically, the reservation I hear most is: “I already get too much information.” As Bill Gates has said, we suffer simultaneously from both information overload (too much information) and information underload (not enough of the information we want). News readers help with both problems, but especially the information underload problem.
I’ve also long been interested in the potential value for lawyers of using news readers as a vehicle or channel to deliver information. My epiphany in that regard came when I first learned about and experimented with the John Kerry Reader. There’s still a lot of potential there and I’ve had some interesting conversations in that area over the years. In many ways, the ill-fated Blawg Channel experiment (that turned into the Between Lawyers blog) was really an early experiment in the creation and delivery of legal material via RSS and news readers (we used the word “channel” for a reason). My buddies over at Rethink IP have probably taken the vision of RSS in the legal space further than anyone else has at this point.
So, at this point, I’m quite pessimistic about adoption by RSS in the legal profession and use of RSS readers by lawyers, even though RSS/XML has been my favorite technology for quite a few years. For the foreseeable future, I expect this to be the domain of a small group of tech-savvy lawyers, whose clients will definitely benefit. On the other hand, as RSS gets integrated into websites, many lawyers will be consuming feeds without realizing it. Ultimately that’s a good thing, but it’s ironic that as far into the RSS era as we are, that lawyers using RSS readers can still be seen as early adopters.
I also recommend Kevin O’Keeffe’s recent post on RSS readers for his assessment of lawyers using news readers. (I chuckle a bit as I write this because when Kevin and I first were talking about blogs and blogging several years ago, I kept haranguing him about RSS and how RSS was way more interesting than blogs.) If you are looking for a good entry point to learning about RSS, I suggest that you start with the recent Strongest Links column Tom Mighell and I wrote (re)introducing RSS to lawyers.
However, the answer to your question is “no.” For what it’s worth, I’d like to be wrong, but I think the odds are greater that I’m right.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
This post brought to you by Dennis Kennedy’s legal technology consulting services, featuring RSS and blogging consulting, technology audit, strategic planning and technology committee coaching packages especially for medium-sized law firms (15 – 100 lawyers) and corporate legal departments. More information on the “Second Pair of Eyes” packages for legal technology audits and strategic planning may be found here (PDF).
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Comments

  1. says

    Expect you’ll be wrong. It took years for law firms to adopt websites and email. Cannot expect anything different with RSS feeds.
    We’re offering a custom Newsreader for each of our clients at LexBlog. It’s set up with a relevant OPML file of feeds of blogs and keywords & key phrases plus the ability to modify the Newsfeeds. We complement that with training on the use of the Newsreader.
    As much as LexBlog has not tried to accelerate the rate of adoption of lawyer blogs we’ve had some impact. I expect our custom Newsreader set up for each author will accelerate the adoption of feeds in the firms we work with – some of them, the largest in the country.

  2. says

    Expect you’ll be wrong. It took years for law firms to adopt websites and email. Cannot expect anything different with RSS feeds.
    We’re offering a custom Newsreader for each of our clients at LexBlog. It’s set up with a relevant OPML file of feeds of blogs and keywords & key phrases plus the ability to modify the Newsfeeds. We complement that with training on the use of the Newsreader.
    As much as LexBlog has not tried to accelerate the rate of adoption of lawyer blogs we’ve had some impact. I expect our custom Newsreader set up for each author will accelerate the adoption of feeds in the firms we work with – some of them, the largest in the country.

  3. says

    I think I’m on the longer lag theory here too Dennis. We need to make this technology simple, and work toward delivering on that ‘information underload’ concept you mention.
    The biggest problem I see is finding an easier definition. RSS really needs a tag line, like ‘stop reading the entire newspaper’… The biggest strength to this technology, IMO, is filtering. We should use it.
    I also like the use of aggregated groups of feeds (as you’ve suggested). If we could do some triage, and establish authoritative collections of raw feeds based on subject, users could then filter things down further by keyword concept.
    Once installed, as we all know, it’s pretty easy. :-)