The End of a Chapter: My Time at the ABA

June 29, 2011 · Posted in Articles, Feature · View Comments 

Hard to believe I was at the ABA almost 10 years.  Time flies and I can still remember saying to myself, fresh out of college, “someone shoot me if I’m here five years from now.”  Well I almost doubled that time and never regretted any of it.

As I look back I have indeed done a lot. I’ve grown an organization as much as it has grown me as a professional.  I was given opportunities that I tried to take full advantage of and created a few of my own, including creating my own department — Interactive Services.  While I somewhat feel compelled to write a novel about my time at the ABA, I am not.  My passion was focused on making the ABA a better place, either through the website, our email marketing efforts, and ultimately the member engagement experience.  I feel I brought the ABA a long way in those spaces, but not without a lot of help from others.  I’d like to thank them here and now.  While this list won’t be exhaustive, they are the ones who stand out the most.  They include Amy Peebles, Joe Andrews, Chang Ahn, Hank White, Ed Adams, Jack Rives, Tom Howell, and my fellow ISD staff.  On the counter part of staff our some fabulous members who have supported me through thick and thin.  They include Tom Mighell, Dennis Kennedy, Steve Weiss, Vince Polley, Lucian Pera, and Bob Clifford.  Thank you to each and every one of you.

A reflection wouldn’t be complete unless you look backwards at what has past.  Here is a quick history of the different looks of the ABA website while I was there.  My direct involvement started in late 2005 through 2011.

I believe in the fundamental fact that you should always leave a place better than when you came to it.  Maybe it is part of that Boy Scout values, or just the values I had growing up.  I believe that I left the ABA a better place than when I first came to it.  I was not alone in the changes that were made during my time.  Thank you to the many who helped me along the way – from encouraging me to take the lead on projects to believing in me even when I didn’t sometimes.

I move on to bigger and better adventures.  Some of which will be described here in the next few weeks.  Needless to say I will be taking my passion, knowledge, and expertise and helping other organizations be successful online…making them better than when I found them.

New Blackberry Apps – Twitter & LinkedIn

April 13, 2010 · Posted in Feature, Social Media, Web · Comments Off 
Twitter and LinkedIn Apps

Twitter and LinkedIn Apps for BlackBerry

Recently the BlackBerry device was delivered two important apps for business users to their app store, Twitter and LinkedIn.  For the last year the iPhone has been the dominant device for most major app development with Android becoming a distant second.  BlackBerry devices seemed to be falling by the wayside.   Which strikes me as odd seeing how BlackBerry devices are very dominant in the business world and growing in the consumer phone world as well.   I know the easy answer is that the touch screen and just plain sex appeal of an iPhone is better than owning a BlackBerry (myself included), but I think these two apps will start to change that thinking.  The reality is that the BlackBerry codex is more complicated and thus the apps cost more to make.  However, as a business user, my BlackBerry rules and I need apps for it.   After I recently had my BlackBerry upgraded to the Curve 8900 I started to look at apps not only to see what they looked like and how they worked with an eye to something we might build for my organization, but also just to see what was out there.  Not much existed.  While there are plenty of apps, nothing was ringing the same way my friends who have iPhones would talk about their apps.   Hey, if we “bump” our phones together, we can share contact information.  But maybe that was the point – the BlackBerry market is just different than the iPhone market.

I know that BlackBerry is more complex to write an application for.  It has a different user interface and that can’t be simple to compensate for a lack of touch screen as an input (well there is the Storm(2).  But I’m hoping these two apps start a push;  a push for more apps to be developed.  The Twitter and LinkedIn apps are important to me because I use them for professional purposes.  And while I like looking at Facebook updates on my BlackBerry, I really have ignored my professional network on LinkedIn…until now.  This app is a much needed upgrade from their mobile site, allowing me to do much more to monitor or share with my professional network.  This is good.

Twitter App

Before upgrading to the new Twitter app I was using Über Twitter.  Uber Twitter was nice at the time because it did more than just going to the mobile site of  However, it had ads that I found annoying, even if they were minimal intrusion.  Now that Twitter has an official BlackBerry app, I’ve bailed on Über Twitter.  I have to try the official app.  According to the BlackBerry site, Twitter for BlackBerry features include:

  • Get your Direct Messages as soon as they arrive
  • Reply to tweets, re-tweet and send Direct Messages
  • Post a link from your BlackBerry® Browser
  • Take a funny picture and upload it

After a few days of use, I like the interface.  I find the integration into my inbox for notifications useful.  One of the downsides right now is that you can’t integrate multiple Twitter accounts or access them without logging out.  The latter is something I like about Über Twitter.  Also, you can’t edit a re-tweet in the official BlackBerry app.  I will live with these two cons for the additional pros of accessing trending topics and overall Twitter search.  Right now I have to find a balance between monitoring my Twitter accounts when I’m at my desk vs. on the go.  Desktop monitoring is done via TweetDeck, which doesn’t have a BlackBerry app yet.  The jury is still completely out on the official app, but it is a good first step.

LinkedIn App

LinkedIn is a different beast in and of itself.  Similar to Facebook, but also not.  LinkedIn is really the defacto profession network.  While specialty networks will still arise, like MH Connected for lawyers, LinkedIn really addresses the business world as a whole, no matter what industry you are in.

Again, according to the LinkedIn blog, the app features:

  • Network Updates. View and share crucial business intelligence and updates with your network.  Perfect for those spare moments between meetings.
  • Search. Search across over 60 million global professionals, and get the answer back in seconds. We’ve implemented a unified search across both your direct connections and the entire LinkedIn network.
  • Connections. LinkedIn is your address book in the cloud.  Get quick access to any of your connections to get their up-to-date profile information, and the ability to send them a message immediately.
  • Invitations. Why wait to get back to your desk? Accept outstanding invitations immediately.
  • Messages. Messaging is one of the reasons that BlackBerry owners love their devices, and we’ve worked hard to integrate your LinkedIn Inbox.
  • Reconnect. You can’t leverage your network if you don’t build it.  This module brings suggestions for new connections to you anytime.  Now you can build your network from anywhere, in seconds.

These are great features that I have started to use.  It reminds me a lot of the Facebook for BlackBerry app, but better.

Taking Advantage of the Platform

According to the announcement blog post, the LinkedIn app also takes advantage of several native BlackBerry applications.  These include:

  • Contacts.  Integrate your LinkedIn connections with your BlackBerry address book, and view the profile of any contact directly on your BlackBerry.
  • Messages.  LinkedIn invitations and messages will now appear in your BlackBerry Inbox, just like any other email.  You can also view the LinkedIn profile of the sender of any email you receive.
  • Calendar.  You can now view the LinkedIn profile of any attendee of a meeting on your BlackBerry calendar.

I can’t stress the importance of integration with the native features of BlackBerry OS.  If you are going to use these third party networks, integration is key and this is one of the great aspects of the LinkedIn app.  Going from the mobile site which was really basic and clunky to this app is like going from a pinto to a corvette.  Nice job.

Overall the BlackBerry market needs to get a kick-start.  Mobile professionals, while migrating to the iPhone and probably the Droid phones now too need apps for the BlackBerry.  I’ll be frank in saying the pure interface of a BlackBerry is one of its biggest challenges.  Whether it is the roller ball, the touch pad, or even the touch screen in the Storm(2), developing for the BlackBerry can’t be as easy as the Android and Apple devices.  But here is to hoping. Hoping that more business applications come out that support good business use on the BlackBerry device.

Further Reading:

Twitter Blog Post re: BlackBerry App

LinkedIn Blog Post re: BlackBerry App

Igniting a Profession in Need of Change

March 25, 2010 · Posted in Feature, Law / Legal · Comments Off 

Last night I went to an event called IgniteLaw.  IgniteLaw was the idea of Matt Homann, an innovative legal consultant who has brought people together in un-conference formats before with LexThink and BlawgThink (both of which I’ve participated and been a speaker at).  IgniteLaw is a bi-product of the Ignite concept originally developed by the O’Reilly group as a way to energize presentations and share thought provoking ideas.  The concept  of Ignite is:

“Fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking, social, local, global—Ignite is all of these and more. It’s a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd.”

Ed Adams Speaking @ IgniteLaw

Ed Adams @ IgniteLaw

IgniteLaw was actually 6-minute presentations that included 20 slides that auto-transitioned after 18 seconds.  The theme of the presentations were about the future of the practice of law.  Matt assembled 16 great speakers (I only was able to stay for 10 of them), many of whom I call friends.  Ed Adams, the Editor and Publisher of the ABA Journal (and my current boss) spoke about the future of legal journalism and the Legal Rebels project he conducted last year as a story about the future of the practice of law, or rather the Rebels that are changing the way law is practiced.

Now I think what was great about this night was that every presenter had an idea on how to make the practice of law better.  Ed covered what was already happening.  Tom Mighell covered how law schools can make lawyers better by teaching them how to run a practice, or practice management skills in law school.  And Larry Port discussed how Agile product development methodology and how it can relate to lawyers in their case work.   When you think about idea sharing and maybe even to a degree an extension of brainstorming, Ignite is a concept that could be applied to not only conferences, but how you give presentations at work or when you want to share an idea.  Short, concise, simple.

IgniteLaw was about how the legal profession can emerge from its current crisis and be better.  How can your industry change, and can you Ignite a change?

Future of Social Networking Relationships

April 13, 2009 · Posted in Feature, Social Media, Strategy, Web · Comments Off 
Chess & Strategy - photo by Wolf 359

Photo by Wolf 359

In social networking one of the first things we think about with LinkedIn and Facebook are the relationships we have and make.  We have Connections and Friends.  Through our contacts we acknowledge through a virtual “handshake” that we can have a symetrical relationship.  We grow our “friends” or “connections” sometimes through widgets of “Who you may know” or through referrals.

With Twitter, we “follow” other Twitterers.  You don’t have to acknowledge, agree, or allow someone to follow you.  They just can.  You can follow more people than follow you, and vice versa.  This asymetrical relationship with your followers introduces a different type of relationship than Facebook or LinkedIn.  The only exception is if you have a closed Twitter account, you have to allow certain people to follow you, which in essence is a form of a symetrical relationship.

After reading Relationship Symmetry in Social Networks: Why Facebook will go Fully Asymmetric by Joshua Porter, it got me thinking about his theory of these two types of relationships.  While Porter states that Facebook will take on a Twitter model because of the different style of relationship it allows you to have, asymetrical and thus a larger “network” than a mutual agreed upon one, I believe social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn should adopt a hybrid approach.

While Porter articulates the four types of relationships that Twitter allows highlighted by a post by Andrew Chen, there is something that is truly to be said about having a formal knowledge of who is attempting to claim a relationship with you.

The four relationships of Twitter are:

  1. People who follow you, but you don’t follow back
  2. People who don’t follow you, but you follow them
  3. You both follow each other (Friends!)
  4. Neither of you follow each other

“Following” not that different than RSS Subscribers if you think about it.  A blogger writes posts, and one or many people subscribe to an RSS feed, or read that blogger on a regular basis.  Twitter takes the writing to a micro-level, but the “relationship” is the same.

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