Last week, Flipboard, a news and social network aggregator, released its first major upgrade in two years.

The signature feature of the new Flipboard is Smart Magazines which curate articles by the thousands of topics and sub-topics Flipboard has organized. Think AI for topics you are passionate about.

Flipboard has been around for almost seven years. Because of its eloquent interface on smartphones and tablets, Flipboard has attracted many lawyers as means of following developments on various topics. Espcecially law bloggers.

But what if you want a magazine made up of specific sources you select rather than the topics selected by Flipboard? That’s where the update and its signature feature, Smart Magazines come in.

Ever since Google Reader shutdown, people have asked us for the ability to create a “folder” for their RSS feeds. The new Flipboard does this but with a powerful twist: you now make a Custom Smart Magazine by mixing any combination of feeds accessible on Flipboard, including other magazines on Flipboard, RSS feeds, and even accounts, hashtags and lists from Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, Flickr, and more.

The resulting magazine becomes a mashup of every feed you select, sorted by date and time. You can flip through the whole magazine or tap the black bar at the bottom of the screen to quickly jump into any one of the component feeds.

Here’s a brief video on using a Smart Magazine to curate content by specific sources such as blogs and news sites that you select.

I have tried Flipboard numerous times over the years. It had an eloquent interface for viewing articles and flipping through the pages. I even suggested that blogging lawyers consider using Flipboard as one way of following sources they’d want to reference in their blogging.

But the news aggregator, Feedly was much easier to use for following sources (blogs, news sources) and subjects (company names and terms of art) and organize them into folders. Folders which can easily be marked as “read” as I skim through my feeds of news.

Feedly is intuitive and easy to use in creating an interface for all your feeds. Flipboard is not intuitive — at least for me. I watched the above video twice and read the Flipboard blog a few teams to figure out how to create a Smart Magazine with curated feeds by source.

I have about thirty folders of feeds on Feedly. Folders that include feeds from a various sources and subjects, including law, publishing, strategic partners, legal services and probono, WordPress, Notre Dame and Gonzaga. Creating 30 Smart Magazines, assuming it was possible would make for an awkward browsing experience.

I also did not see in Flipboard a way to subscribe to subjects mentioned in storties by influential news sources the way I can in Feedly. If I want to see news stories that mention Wolters Kluwer, LexisNexis or Fastcase, I just subscribe to the subjects in Feedly and receive in my feeds the relevant stories from Google News.

Following subjects has always been as important as following sources for me. This way I see things others don’t. I use the stories to strategically engage others, whether it be via Twitter or my blog.

I am sure many lawyers will continue to use Flipboard and find the upgrade pretty nice. No question the interface is slick and some lawyers are publishing their blog to a Flipboard Magazine and picking up a lot of readers as a result.

But I am sticking with Feedly and will continue to use Feedly in my curriculum when teaching law students and lawyers.

As a law blogger or someone sitting on the fence a good place to find inspiration is other bloggers.

The bloggers need not be blogging on the law. Non-law blogs may be the best place to start. They’ll get you outside the routine of the law.

I usually use  a news aggregator (Mr Reader) to follow blogs and other news sources on, among other things, blogging and social media. I share on Twitter the articles that’ll help law bloggers and other professionals.

This week I tried something different, I headed over to Flipboard. I “flipped” through two of the topics I subscribe to, “bloggers” and “blogging.”

What a wonderful experience. Countless posts and articles regarding blogging. I shared some of the better ones on Twitter.

Flipboard for blog learning and inspirationBest of all, I left inspired by the bloggers.

A musician telling us how to network with influential bloggers, “Dad Bloggers” memorializing the loss of one of their own, a software company listing the top 35 privacy/security blogs, a college communications’ student sharing 15 ways real bloggers solve their greatest challenges and an ebook provider sharing a lengthy and detailed ebook on beginning to blog.

That’s just part of what I discovered. If you are looking for the posts and links, check out my Twitter feed from Monday night.

Learn from other bloggers no matter their station in life or what they do for a living. They needn’t be lawyers. Learn from their tips and ideas, but more importantly find inspiration.

So many people are out there blogging to achieve more in their lives. Coming from all walks of life the only thing they have in common is blogging. Blogging to learn, to connect, to build relationships, to build a reputation as an authority and to grow their business.

Some are looking to earn money directly from their blogging. They may offer ideas and inspiration, but as a lawyer you already have a business model – charging for legal services.

Check out Flipboard. As a marketing or communications professional get your blogging lawyers to do so.

Of course you can follow topics on an area of the law or business, but follow “blogging” and “bloggers” for blogging know how and inspiration.

As way of background, Flipboard acts as a news aggregator collecting blog posts and articles via RSS feeds and Twitter. The user can select topics to follow by searching on subjects. Flipboard will then suggest both other topics to follow and “magazines” on the topic. The magazines are created by other Flipboard users by tagging articles on Flipboard.

The Flipboard interface of “flipping” through magazine like pages provides a user experience that’s unmatched as a reading experience. Though best experienced on an iPad or iPhone, Flipboard is available on non-mobile devices.

Get outside the law. Check out the global blogging community for information and inspiration.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Brian Koprowski

Great news for lawyers. As reported by VentureBeat’s Tom Cheredar (@TChed), Flipboard’s latest update integrates Zite’s suggested content feature.

At the heart of “Flipboard 3.0″ is deep integration of technology from Zite, the mobile news recommendation service Flipboard acquired from CNN back in March. Zite is known for being able to recommend a large selection of fresh content about both broad and specific categories. Today’s Flipboard update adapts that intelligent recommendation technology in the form of 34,000 topics users can now follow.

As way of background, Flipboard is a personal magazine app that provides users a single place to keep up on the topics, news and events they care about. It’s been popular among the legal profession because of it’s visually attractive interface that allows users to flip through their content.

As opposed to merely subscribing to feeds from sources on a reader such as a Feedly or Flipboard (until now), Zite technology curates content on a subject, for example bankruptcy, from the most influential sources (blogs or traditional media) and serves the content up to you.

Better yet, Zite is like Pandora. The more you use Zite to select, view, and share content, the smarter Zite gets in serving up the most relevant content for you.

And there’s more with Zite’s integration with Flipboard.

…Zite’s technology really does an awesome job of helping you discover great user-created digital magazines on Flipboard. That’s significant because user-created Flipboard magazines have been around for a while now, but I’m guessing a lot of people weren’t motivated to discover or follow good ones. (The idea of sifting through a stranger’s curated digital magazines sounds about as fun as reading a collection of persuasive essays written by community college students. There are some gems, but you have to sift through tons of dull/uninspired essays before finding them.)

flipboard-topic-pickerLogging onto Flipboard on an iPhone or iPad, you will be presented an opportunity to do a search. Upon searching you’ll be presented with a handful of topics to follow and related magazines worth checking out.

Based on your viewing habits, Flipboard will then suggest other topics and related magazines to follow. Your content will then be curated for you, much like the editor of a magazine or newspaper would do for you.

The topics displayed here are random in nature. As a lawyer you will need to dial in on areas of the law, subjects in the law, names of industries represented, and consumer groups. It may take a little time to get what you need. And it’s possible based on your niche, that you’ll not find a perfect topic heading.

Here’s a three minute video with Flipboard’s CEO Mike McCue on Flipboard’s update. Perhaps not all of it relevant for you as a lawyer, but it’ll give a feel of what Flipboard Can do for you.

The gold in Flipboard, now with Zite, is the content presented that you’ll then use for networking online. Networking requires engaging in relevant existing conversations. It’s the content that represents the conversation.

Share the content, comment on it, and reference the content in blogging and you’re entering relevant conversations. It’s this engagement which builds relationships and word of mouth.

Attorney Kirk Jenkins (@kirkcjenkins) of Sedgwick is already a leading expert on appellate matters and the Illinois Supreme Court, but the social RSS reader Flipboard allows him to expand beyond the followers of his blog, The Appellate Strategist.

“It occurred to me almost immediately that for my marketing plan and the brand that I’m promoting that it was a perfect opportunity to add to the platform and create a context for the writing that I’m doing on the Illinois Supreme Court.It both gives my writing a context and creates a one-stop-shopping avenue [for readers],” said Jenkins, who previously spoke about his blogging for LXBN.

Jenkins regularly curates what he writes and new sources for his Flipboard magazine about the Illinois Supreme Court, which he has been managing since the site and mobile app launched the feature in March 2013. He uses the magazine as a way to more publicly acknowledge leading newsmakers and writers in his niche because Flipboard is able to pull in links and article snippets, but it also prominently features collected photos and multimedia.

“It’s just one more way to promote what they do to the people who read our blog. It’s just another variation on sharing influencers’ work, just like you would on LinkedIn or on Twitter and share a reporters’ column or story and give your take on it. Flipboard is a similar opportunity,” said Jenkins.

Another lawyer, McKenna Long & Aldridge’s Brennan Bolt (@bwbolt) uses Flipboard to compliment the blog Labor Relations Today.

“Thus far, it has provided us with not only another outlet to publish our own posts, but has allowed us to expand the content we provide our readers by incorporating additional labor law analysis and information from other sources, all in an alluring, browsable online magazine,” said Bolt.

Flipboard hosts nearly seven million users-created magazines, and the feature is already well known among larger brands (like Red Bull, UNICEF and National Geographic) using it to build upon their current social media efforts. The popular app does see the potential for users to build their own community around their niche publication.

“Niche interests become communities when the people who share similar passions have a shared place where they can gather, exchange information, and engage in conversations. Flipboard enables all of that, within the context of beautiful, highly visual magazines,” said Christel van der Boom (@Xtel) of Flipboard.

Asides from Jenkins’ magazine, some prominent legal Flipboard magazines are The Social Legal Marketer, Digital Law and one created for law students at the University of California – Hastings.

The major downside, however, through creating Flipboard magazines is adding non-mobile friendly content. According to van der Boom, while Flipboard magazines can be accessed on desktops, the majority of readers prefer to use the mobile app. Pinching and zooming your way through articles coming in from non-mobile websites can affect usability.

But lawyers who already use Flipboard as a listening device shouldn’t be deterred, and, like in Jenkins case, can add further context to what you’re already writing about.

Zite, which I’ve described as a Pandora for content, has been acquired by Flipboard.

Zite, which had previously been acquired by CNN, was popular among lawyers because of its ability to curate news and information on niche subjects. As opposed to having to subscribe to feeds from various sources and on key phrases on a reader such as Feedly, Zite curated the most influential content on a subject, for example bankruptcy.

The more a lawyer used Zite for sharing or by marking preferences, the “smarter” Zite got. You got more and more of what you liked.

For bloggers, Zite served as powerful listening tool to follow what leading bloggers and reporters were writing on a subject. By sharing on short form social media what you were reading and referencing in your blog what you reading, you networked for business development.

I really admired the guys at Zite and what they created. You can see why in their CTO Mike Klass’ (@mikeklass) post about the acquisition.

Ali Davar and I founded a company in 2005 called Worio whose mission was help people find information they weren’t getting through friends, social media, or search. Our plan was to deploy sophisticated machine learning techniques to understand people and content to build a better search engine. A short six years later, we released a news app for the iPad called Zite. The specifics were different from what we imagined in 2005, but the vision remained intact: not to “filter” news, not to save people time skimming headlines, but to understand them well enough to find that one article from an obscure blogger about medieval knitting they didn’t know existed and would have never have otherwise found, but is exactly what they were looking for.

Though it’s expected that Flipboard will incorporate technology from Zite, the Zite app is going to shutdown. From Klass:

Our goal is to get the things that are great about Zite into Flipboard before shutting it down. We will also build a way for you to transition your data from Zite into Flipboard. Until then (for six months at a minimum), we will continue supporting Zite. Our users mean the world to us; after all, what Flipboard saw in us, you saw first. We hope you come with us and help us shape the future of news.

Much of how we look at the world today is based on search. We search for things on Google. We subscribe to searches from Google News. We subscribe to blogs and news sites via RSS.

More powerful than search is discovery. If a machine knows what you like, the sources you follow, and who you trust when they share content, the machine can tailor information for you. Just tell the machine who you are and it’ll serve up the news and information you’re interested in – no search.

That was Zite. When I logged in with my Gmail address and shared with Zite my social networking and Google Reader accounts, Zite preloaded folders of content it created. Those folders included ones on social media, entrepreneurship, baseball, technology, and business. Wow, talk about knowing my interests and bringing me content. All without a search or telling Zite my interests.

Mike McCue (@mmccue), the CEO Flipboard, understood what guys like me wanted from Flipboard and how Zite could fill the void.

[A]lthough you can already read thousands of sources from over 20 regions on Flipboard, you want easier and better ways to discover content about the things that matter to you. Adding Zite’s expertise in personalization and recommendations to Flipboard’s product experience and powerful curator community will create an unparalleled personal magazine for our millions of readers. (emphasis added)

I am optimistic that the Zite experience will live on and make for an even better Flipboard. I’ve been testing Flipboard as a “discovery” tool by subscribing to subjects, but the experience has been lacking and the content stale when compared to Zite.

Thanks to the guys at Zite for building a great app which has improved the lives of many lawyers and the people they serve.

20130625-222105.jpg I flipped through the Supreme Court sections I created on Flipboard and Zite yesterday. To my surprise I didn’t see any posts or articles emanating from blogs published by practicing lawyers. Even SCOTUSblog, co-founded by Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe, was absent. All of the stories were from the mainstream media or general sites drawing a much higher profile than law blogs.

It’s possible that because I am not engaging lawyers publishing on Supreme Court matters, I don’t get as rich a curated view as those engaging and networking on such matters would. But my hunch is that other lawyers got the same view by setting up a category (Zite) or search (Flipboard) for “Supreme Court.”

Rather than being critical of law blogs on the Supreme Court being absence from Zite and Flipboard, I look at this as an opportunity. Get law blogs into such curated environments, and practicing lawyers are sitting in parallel with the mainstream media. Of course, for the more sophisticated consumer of legal insight and commentary law blogs may already be viewed has offering more valuable insight than that coming from traditional media.

Independent law blogs may, of course, be viewed on their own and via other platforms than Flipboard and Zite such as RSS readers. But as social media advances, law blog content custom curated into mobile atmospheres where we’re already reading everything else (sports, business, technology, dining, travel etc) will be more and more important.

Getting this law blog content in Zite, Flipboard, and Facebook’s upcoming reader is going to take a few things.

  • Begin with good law blog content. Lawyers need to be willing to take the time to blog — and blog well. Milk toast posts summarizing a decision adds nothing to the national discussion. Why should I care about the decision? How does it impact me? How do your views differ with what other commentators are saying in blogs, in print, and on TV. That’s blogging.
  • You’ll need to be viewed as influential. Not as measured by courthouse discussion, but by social networks. Is your blog regularly cited? Is what you write and what you share (especially other’s content) shared on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Do you get ‘out’ and engage other thought leaders via blogging and other social media? You can’t title your posts in your law firm’s name, you’ll need an author. In other words, socialize in a real and authentic way.
  • We need to start pushing on the Zite’s and Flipboard’s of the world. Are they going to carry the water for mostly the mainstream media when it comes to matters like Supreme Court decisions? I don’t think that’s their intent. Flipboard and Zite, especially, include law blog content for other categories and subjects.

No doubt lawyers are blogging about Supreme Court decisions and their impact. On a quick look at LexBlog’s Network, LXBN, I counted 17 Supreme Court related posts from just today. And LXBN does not include non-LexBlog Network law blog posts.

Now we just need to get this content into powerful curated environments.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Clarissa Peterson.

20130622-172717.jpg Flipboard editorial director, Josh Quittner (@twittner) shared four ideas this week as to how Flipboard could be used by business professionals.

Though all good ideas, the one drawing my attention was solidifying your expertise. One, because establishing yourself as an expert is key for lawyers today, and two, because the idea arises out of creating your own Flipboard magazine.

Claim your position as an industry expert by curating a magazine. In addition to collecting articles, photos and videos from prominent sources, like trade magazines and influencers in your field, you might also want to flip in your own blog posts or social media musings—it can be a seamless way to inject your (or your company’s) voice into a wider conversation. (To incorporate your own blog content into a magazine, host it on a platform like WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr, and then search for the blog on Flipboard. When viewed on Flipboard, each of your posts will have a “+” by it, allowing you to flip it into your Flipboard magazine. You can also flip posts from the Web using the “Flip It” button.) You can even create a hub for experts in your field by inviting your colleagues and others to curate with you.

I have not created my own Flipboard magazine yet, but Flipboard magazines really pique my interest. Flipboard provides users an eloquent interface that’s unsurpassed in online publishing. The New York Times, the Financial Times, and the BBC have all opted to publish their content on Flipboard.

I’ve suggested that Flipboard represents the future of legal publishing. And Flipboard has proven very popular for lawyers as an RSS reader — and more.

Flipboard magazines are new, but they’re being heavily promoted by Flipboard. They just added a feature that enables multiple users to jointly create a Flipboard magazine.

Flipboard also suggests magazines you may want to subscribe to as you browse your own Flipboard of curated RSS feeds and content generated from your social networks.

How might Flipboard magazines work for a lawyer or law firm? Imagine being a lawyer focusing on water law in California. By following relevant news and people via blogs, mainstream media, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as just subscribing to the phrase “water law, “all on Flipboard you’ll receive a personalized Flipboard serving up news, insight, and commentary on water law.

Add the content you like to your “California Water Law” magazine as an individual lawyer or as a group of lawyers in your law firm. You can then share your magazine across social media and provide a link to it on your website and email.

So what if your audience isn’t used to following “magazines’ on Flipboard. They can do so with the tap of a finger. Everyone in your target audience has a smartphone or iPad. And you’ll be seen as one of the more innovative lawyers around.

How to create a Flipboard magazine? Here’s a nice 3 minute YouTube video from Mia Quagliarello (@flipboard_mia), a curator at Flipboard that tells you how.

Flipboard has updated its sharing feature on the iPhone, iPad, and presumably, the Android.

Flipboard, a personalized magazine of articles and posts created from your feeds and social network, is extremely popular with lawyers because of its non-techie, eloquent interface for receiving and reading customized news.

While reading content, not as many lawyers share what they are reading with their network. Sharing what you are reading is an excellent way of not only staying top of mind with your existing network, but also growing a network of like minded people.

Let alone the fact that lawyers who share info and articles on niche subjects establish themselves as authorities by serving as ‘intelligence agents.’

Flipboard’s new sharing interface makes it easy as ever to share what you are reading on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, or even via an email or text message.

Here’s a blog post from the Duets Blog I came across flipping through the LXBN Network on Flipboard on my iPhone. 20130517-091938.jpg

I now tap on the ‘Flipboard screen’ to pull up the post to read it. 20130517-092059.jpg

When I scroll to the bottom of the article as I read it I see a share arrow. Clicking on it, I get the below interface making it oh so easy to share what I am reading and include a comment as well. 20130517-092235.jpg

No truth to the rumor that I have stock options in Flipboard. Flipboard is just doing one hell of a job in delivering publishers a wonderful distribution platform, and readers a wonderful reading and sharing solution. A sharing solution that leads to networking opportunities for lawyers.

20130511-145552.jpg Jeff John Roberts (@jeffjohnroberts) of paidContent reports that like the New York Times the Financial Times is now making its content available through Flipboard.

Flipboard, a popular tablet reading platform for lawyers, enables users to draw on their social networks to assemble content from a variety of publications to create their own magazine-like experience.

The move comes as publishers realize how important it is to get their content to where people are consuming it and how they are consuming it.

The Flipboard partnership also reflects the fact that the FT and other publishers are keen to get their stories in as many places as possible at a time when readers are consuming more and more content on mobile.

From Rob Grimshaw (@r_g), the managing director of the Financial Times online:

I think the really interesting aspect to the platform is the way they’re giving readers the ability to create a bespoke user experience. I personally think this is going to be a strong strand in publishing and consumption of news in the digital space.

As with the New York Times, which started publishing on Flipboard last year, you still need to pay an underlying subscription to get full access to the Financial Times. Non-subscribers get a very limited view.

What’s the relevance to the law? Both law firms as well as traditional legal publishers (Wolters Kluwer, Thomson Reuters, ALM, LexisNexis) will need to start considering getting their stories and content where people are consuming content and in the format people are consuming content.

Neither law firms nor traditional publishers are going to be able to deliver content in an eloquent and effective fashion ala an innovative company like Flipboard can. Lack of resources for law firms, and lack of innovation for traditional legal publishers.

In addition, people consume content today in a curated fashion. It’s coming from people they trust via solutions like Flipboard. Articles and stories from one source appear right along side those from another source.

Do you think law firms are going to run content from another firm on their sites and publishing solutions? How about Thomson Reuters doing so for LexisNexis?

Strong relevant content in the law will be every bit as important. It’s the way the content is distributed and consumed that’s going to change. Change dramatically.

20130413-122841.jpg Two weeks ago Flipboard, a social network aggregation magazine, released a new feature allowing users to create personalized magazines. Each of us essentially became a magazine editor with the power to pull individual sources, subjects, and stories into one magazine available to others.

The result? Half a million personalized magazines have been created and Flipboard has added 3 million users, bringing its total users to 53 million people.

Per Sarah Perez at TechCrunch:

…[O]ver 50 percent of its users are reading these personalized ‘zines daily. Some of these have been created by publishers themselves, with a few of the more popular ones coming from Esquire, Rolling Stone, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic and others. Meanwhile, magazines created by users are also popular – TechCrunch contributor MG Siegler’s “Reading List” mag, for example, made #3 on the most popular list.

More interesting is how Flipboard is now read, edited, and shared.

…[T]he magazine is transitioning to become a morning news paper of sorts, with users doing the most reading around 9:00 AM, while magazine creation takes place in the afternoon (1:00 PM) and sharing peaks in the evening (7:00 PM). You can almost see the flow of the content creation to consumption process at work here, starting with reading content, then magazine creators curating the articles for niche readerships, and finally leading to those who spread content further on social networks.

Could Flipboard become the principal place where your law blog content is consumed, and shared? Stranger things have happened.

People’s reading habits have changed. We’re moving away from going to one site, one blog, one newspaper, or one magazine. We’re reading content from multiple sources in one place where the content is aggregated.

Better yet, the content’s aggregation and what we read is effected by the people we trust. Have our friends shared, liked, or read the content? If not, the content may never reach our eyes through social aggregation apps such as Flipboard.

Of course it’s going to take time to sort things out. Traditional publishers want money. How do they get their add revenue through Flipboard?

Law firms and lawyers have egos, brands, and traffic needs to fuel that get in the way of what they ought to be seeking – relationships and word of mouth reputation that can be accelerated by apps like Flipboard.

18 months ago I asked if Flipboard could drive the future of legal publishing.

The popularity of personalized magazines and the continued growth of Flipboard are signs that it may. Publishing legal periodicals online, promoting same to draw traffic and building paywalls to keep people out is inherently flawed today.

Publishing a law blog and establishing the goal of getting traffic to the blog and your website, above all else, is misguided.

Publishers, law bloggers included, out to be looking to the future where content is socially aggregated for presentation to their target audience in an eloquent environment like Flipboard.