When Wikis Suck and Don’t Suck For Law Firms

After posting about why wikis suck for law firms, I’m finding my concerns both ignored, addressed, and transcended. But one use of wikis that I did not consider was to do cross-firm collaboration on legal matters. Thanks to Evan Schaeffer for promoting this to my attention.

I have also had a little more experience with wikis since my original post, and would like to modify my thoughts regarding their use. Mainly, wikis work best when they create a resource for a group, rather than replace, supplant, or build off of existing resources.

That’s my experience with smaller (”We don’t do wikis because we have no control over them.” Control may be distracting, but its not a worthwhile objection. All but the most Enron of places want to leverage the skillsets of their employees. Sorry, that’s my attempt at corporatese. Anyway, once you frame social software in terms of knowledge management and project collaboration, the red herring of control dries up.

April 27th, 2006 | Firm, Information, IT, Law, Technology, Wiki | No comments

Fast Action: Rojo, a Web Feed Reader

screenshot of Rojo.com

Getting Currently Fresh: Rojo

For the uninitiated: RSS readers let you pull all your favorite blogs and web sites that offer feeds into a single place that is updated when the sites are updated. It’s like a webmail account that gets a new message when a site you’ve subscribed to adds new content.

After my Onfolio beta expired last fall, I was faced with a choice: fork over $25 for a single-platform RSS reader, or jump into the tempting waters of platform-independent, web-based RSS readers. I did a cannonball, transferring ~150 feeds from Onfolio to my first choice, Rojo (thanks to both readers’ OPML export and import tools, the transfer was painless).

Once I got my feeds into Rojo, I started tagging them with a vocabulary of ~10 phrases, and they started sorting themselves automatically into the proper buckets. Now I just click on a tag, and all the recent stories from the feeds with that tag appear in a nice newspaper format, with ajaxy-liscious controls and a nice read/unread distinction. If I want to subdivide multiply-tag, explode, or consolidate my tags, it’s a simple matter of clicking an icon and typing.

Now I can check my feeds from anything with a internet connection and a browser. World, I will remain on informed and aware of your events, no matter who’s OS I use!

Adding new feeds is easy. My home and work browsers have a nice javascriptlet that auto-discovers any RSS feeds for the page that I have pulled up in a tab and adds it to my feed list. Managing/tagging/deleting feeds is easy as well using the manage page to collapse, untag-retag, and delete feeds.

There are little touches all the way through Rojo that keep me happy. The url for your feeds is rojo.com/subject/tagname/recent. The feed auto-discover defaults to Atom feeds if more than one is available. You can’t accidentally delete a tagged feed. The Rojo team is continually adding features and refining the interface.

There is one big drawback, a related annoyance, and a smaller nitpick. The big drawback is that I’ve seen Rojo take up to 8 hours to pick up a new story from a feed. For feed junkies, this is a deal-killer. I like everything else so much that I don’t care, but please Rojo, give me my new stories ASAP! 8 hours is like getting an invitation to a party that just ended.

The related annoyance is that Rojo appears to mark things as read/unread based on the timestamp of the feed’s story, not on whether it was picked up by the reader when you clicked “Mark As Read”. This means that some new stories slip under my feed-radar because they get picked up 8 hours after they are published, and 6 hours after I clicked the Read button, retroactively marking them as read when in fact I haven’t even seen them!

The other nitpick: sometimes feeds that I’m not subscribed to show up. Then they leave. At the moment, I somehow am subscribed to Fark. My intelligence and happiness are suffering.

March 23rd, 2006 | Blogosphere, Information, Review, Web | 1 comment