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NY Times : blogs play key role in delivery of information

The NY Times Business Section had some favorable Business > Your Money > Techno Files: The Twilight of the Information Middlemen” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/16/business/yourmoney/16tech.html”>comments on the value of blogs in the we obtain information. Traditionally information has been packaged “into something tangible that can be priced and sold: a book, a seat in a theater, an hour of an expert’s time.” Technology, the Times writes, causes chaos when it disrupts this packaging plan. We’ve seen what technology has done to the Music industry and what’s to say the same information previously packaged in books, newspapers, journals and the like can’t be exchanged without the packaging via the Internet.

The Time believes the emergence of blogs is going to be one of the “information sources that make us collectively richer and exist only because of fairly recent changes in the Internet.”

Here’s the Times’ take on the value of blogs:

At the democratic extreme, blogs are a nightmare vision of a publishing house’s “slush pile” come to life. At the elite end, the dozen or so best-known sites, they are an intensified version of insider journalism. If you don’t get quite enough sass, attitude or instant conclusions from the rest of the news media, you can always find more at the leading blogs. But in between are thousands of sites that offer real-time eyewitness testimony from people doing almost anything that some other person might find interesting: training as a surgeon, looking for oil in Siberia, fighting in Iraq. Blogs have only recently become a snap to set up and produce. There are many tools for doing so, including Google’s newly simplified version of Blogger.

The Times also notes the value of blog’s RSS in the delivery of info:

Blogs have also become easier to navigate, through the system known to techies as R.S.S. I’ve sat through debates about what those letters originally stood for; what they mean is that you can have new entries from chosen blogs automatically delivered by e-mail soon after they appear. Some people would rather skip R.S.S. and just cruise through favorite blogs periodically. Others like the convenience of a regular R.S.S. feed: it’s like home delivery of mail instead of a post office box, but on a much faster cycle. My current favorite among R.S.S. programs has an ugly-even-for-software name: intraVnews. It presents blog entries, sorted by topic, in my Outlook mailbox, and it is free.

Lawyers should take note of a few items from the Times article. One is the ability to distribute info without the packaging. Lawyers have historically marketed themselves to the public and other lawyers by writing articles for trade journals and bar magazines or even chapters for books. Those articles took a long time to write and had to go through editors and publishers who took a long time to get to know. A blog allows a lawyer to publish their own magazine on their niche area of pratcice. Sure it takes time but the posts can be brief as thoughts come to a lawyer’s mind. Second a lawyer can begin today without working on a relationship with editors, publishers and the like.

Second the Times says blogs “offer real-time eyewitness testimony from people.” Lawyers have a unique role in our society. We are the eyes and ears of the legal system. Why not share some of our insight and analysis with the public. Frankly, we owe that to a society based on the rights and responsibilities of its citizens. The public is really out in the dark as to what goes on in our legal system and God knows is not going to get a real picture of things from sensational trial coverage of celebrities and the like.

Finally, with RSS we can deliver this info so much easier. In time RSS, whether called by this name or something else, is going to be the preferred method of receiving information for the masses. RSS may sound complicated but so did email and Web sites less than 10 years. With technological advances coming so much faster, you’re going to see RSS on most everyone’s desktops within a year or two. Lawyers need to stay on top of this technology or they are going to be buried by competitors.

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