The Future of Legal Search

Here’s a White Paper from Cognizant 20-20 Insights (September 2011) that should be of interest to many readers of this blog:

The Future of Legal Search:

Meeting Lawyer Requirements by Delivering More Contextually-Sensitive and Relevant Results

by Ambika Sagar

Some highlights:

Social media, crowdsourced data and other sources of information continue to generate volume and increase complexity.

Leveraging search history, information search providers can start analyzing how lawyers actually search to build artificial intelligence tools for constructing queries based on cases on which a lawyer is currently working.

Deriving context involves analyzing the pleadings to understand the legal issue.

Proactive search is an ideal opportunity to highlight the value of paid content.  By providing relevant free content and abstracts of paid content, the legal information industry can target upgrading of customers.

Better value propositions such as pay-per-result and assistance in discovery of relevant results can improve conversion rates.

Ideally, a single-sign-in, cloud-based solution that provides access to various tools and ensures maximum integration of research and case data with litigation tools will benefit lawyers the most and also help to attract users and keep them loyal to one platform.

Be sure to check out the article itself and its many useful illustrations.

UK MPs and the Use of Twitter

Microblogging, Constituency Service and Impression Mangaement: UK MPs and the Use of Twitter.

Nigel Jackson and Darren Lilleker

17 Journal of Legislative Studies 86 (March 2011)

Abstract:

Twitter, a microblogging site which allows users to deliver statements, thoughts and links in 140 characters to followers as well as a wider Internet audience, is the latest online communications technology adopted by MPs. Assessing the use of early adopters, this article considers which MPs are most likely to use Twitter (e.g. tweeting), and how. Content analysis of tweeting MPs was conducted, and identified personal and political characteristics which may influence use. The data suggested that of the six characteristics tested, gender, party and seniority had most impact on adoption. Applying Jones and Pittman’s (1982) typology there is clear evidence that MPs use Twitter as a tool of impression management. Constituency service is a secondary function of the use of Twitter by MPs. Where MPs use Twitter as part of their constituency role it is to promote their local activity. We note that a small group of MPs use Twitter as a regular communication channel, but most are only occasionally dipping their toe into the microbloggersphere.

The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0

“The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0”

Danielle Keats Citron
University of Maryland School of Law

Maryland Legal Scholarship Network RPS
University of Maryland – School of Law

George Washington Law Review, Vol. 78, 2010
University of Maryland Legal Studies Research, 2009-41

Abstract:     
The public can now “friend” the White House and scores of agencies on social networks, virtual worlds, and video-sharing sites. The Obama Administration sees this trend as crucial to enhancing governmental transparency, public participation, and collaboration. As the President has underscored, government needs to tap into the public’s expertise because it doesn’t have all of the answers. To be sure, Government 2.0 might improve civic engagement. But it also might produce privacy vulnerabilities because agencies often gain access to individuals’ social network profiles, photographs, videos, and contact lists when interacting with individuals online. Little would prevent agencies from using and sharing individuals’ social media data for more than policymaking, including law enforcement, immigration, tax, and benefits matters. Although people may be prepared to share their views on health care and the environment with agencies and executive departments, they may be dismayed to learn that such policy collaborations carry a risk of government surveillance. This essay argues that government should refrain from accessing individuals’ social media data on Government 2.0 sites. Agencies should treat these sites as one-way mirrors, where individuals can see government’s activities and engage in policy discussions but where government cannot use, collect, or distribute individuals’ social media information. A “one-way mirror” policy would facilitate democratic discourse, enhance government accountability, and protect privacy.

Source:  LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 41,  11/09/2009

My good neighbor Facebook

A slow news day, but a few items caught my eye about Facebook, my new down-the-street, around-the-block neighbor.

Today’s Financial Times has a full-page news analysis piece on Facebook, “What friends are for,” by David Gelles (p. 7).

With its leadership as an online social network more secure, Mark Zuckerberg’s company aims to build both revenues and an enduring presence on other sites — no easy task, writes David Gelles.

The article identifies “Four big challenges for a site both social and global:”

Money It may be on track to bring in more than $500m . . .  in revenues this year but Facebook is projected to spend more. . . .
Competition  Other companies are racing to build their own services to bring social experiences to the web. . . .  A consortium including MySpace and Google has backed a service that allows users to carry their identities around the web with a single login.
Regulation Facebook is building one of the biggest databases of personal data on the web. It has so far steered clear of battles with regulators but as it expands around the globe that may change. An advisory board to the European Commission last month proposed stricter privacy settings for all social networks to ensure private information is not abused.
Execution Managing its own headlong growth, and adapting and expanding its service without alienating existing users, are Facebook’s most direct challenges. . . ..

About Facebook’s global reach:

Even as he reacts to new threats, Mr Zuckerberg is intent on extending his company’s reach and deepening its connections with its members. In this, at least, he has shown some remarkable results. Facebook’s user numbers are growing quickly – more than half have signed up in the past year. It is available in 50 languages and in just about every country in the world. Perhaps most importantly, Facebook users seem to be addicted. The site, it turns out, is “sticky”. More than 100m users log on to the site at least once a day.

The company is thinking globally but acting locally.  Their new world headquarters is two blocks from my house, and I pass by on frequent neighborhood strolls.  One thing I really like is how someone is always working, or so it seems.  There’s no 8 to 5 rush in and rush out.  When I stoll by at 8:00 p.m., I always see a slow but steady exodus of people, many on bicycles. 

The San Jose Mercury News recently ran a front-page story about Facebook’s new headquarters, “Facebook grows into new home in Palo Alto’s power neighborhood,” by Will Oremus, which includes this information:

Whistling between workstations are Facebookers on skateboard-like gadgets called RipStiks. The workforce, 700 strong in Palo Alto and about 900 worldwide, remains dominated by contemporaries of 25-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Their exuberance appears to have survived the move.

It’s not all bicycles and RipStiks.  There are a lot of cars and they spill out onto the street and fill an auxilary parking lot that is about 6 or 7 blocks away.  A shuttle bus runs from the company to the auxilary lot, but every single time I’ve seen this shuttle it has been empty of passengers (maybe the rainy season will be different). 

The ever-popular Legal Scholarship Network apparently sees opportunity in Facebook too.  From Gregg Gordon’s (President, Social Science Research Network) 2009 Mid-Year President’s Letter:

In April, we started the SSRNblog (http://ssrnblog.com). As we have grown, we realized that not everyone knows our history or has access to news about the latest updates or changes to the website. The SSRNblog comes as a natural outcome of our desire to share information and keep the SSRN Community up to date. Hopefully, it will also enhance our already great connections with our users.

The SSRN Blog will not be a broadcast vehicle. We want to engage you in an ongoing conversation. Readers will get updates regarding SSRN’s eLibrary and services, weekly “Top Five” lists, and announcements of new networks, conferences, and presentations. Our posts will also explore and share our perspective on issues such as Open Access, new publishing models and directions for scholarly research, and the technologies that affect us all.

One of these technologies is social networking. Social networking allows people to connect in real time regardless of geography, or to access information no matter where it is stored. We see a plethora of opportunities for the SSRN Community to use these tools. As a first step, we have joined Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and are posting updates, announcements, and other items to them regularly. Here is how to find us:

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/SSRN

Facebook:
http://www.facebook..com/pages/Rochester-NY/SSRN/36086731835

LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=40866

Aardvark’s Answer Machine

Typing a question  into a search engine and getting a specific, relevant answer hasn’t improved much since the 1957 librarian-favorite film Desk Set when EMMARAC (the Electromagnetic Memory and Research Arithmetical Calculator) answered a question about Watusis and the island of Corfu with Rose Hartwick Thorpe’s poem Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight.  Make it a subjective question, e.g., “What  is the best Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto?,” and the results are even less helpful, as noted in a “Digital Domain” article by Randall Stross in today’s New York Times.  The article, “Now All Your Friends Are in the Answer Business,” discusses “Aardvark . . . a Web service that answers users’  questions through their friends and friends-of-friends.”

Often at the reference desk I don’t answer a patron’s question but, instead, seek to find someone who can provide a good answer — I’m more a  switchboard operator than fountain of knowledge.  So Aardvark’s approach of using networks to make the connection between question and human-supplied answer is intriguing.  As the article explains,

A new service offered by Aardvark (vark.com), however, provides specific recommendations. Its advice is always current, too, obtained on the fly from those we trust, like friends, but whose collective expertise far exceeds that of the relatively few people we happen to know personally.

Founded in 2007 and based in San Francisco, the company has just completed beta testing of its answer service and opened it to the public last week. It begins with the social network that you’ve established elsewhere. Presently, it requires Facebook; other networks will be added, it says.

. . .

Aardvark may come to be preferred over answer databases and “decision engines” if many people want a speedy answer from a fellow human being.

My need for a “focus assistant.”

Can technology offer us “continuous augmented awareness?”

An earlier post here, commenting upon an article a year ago in The Atlantic, asked, “Is Google making us stoopid?”  Now an article in the July / August 2009 issue of the same magazine asks, “Is Google actually making us smarter?”

The article, “Get Smart,” by Jamais Cascio, discusses how Twitter can help us move from a world of “continuous partial attention” to one of “continuous augmented awareness.”  I’m a fan of Twitter but I find it hard to quickly sift through tweets about pancakes to the ones that provide truly valuable and timely information (not that pancakes aren’t important, but I use Twitter mainly for work).  Here’s what Mr. Cascio writes:

But imagine if social tools like Twitter had a way to learn what kinds of messages you pay attention to, and which ones you discard. Over time, the messages that you don’t really care about might start to fade in the display, while the ones that you do want to see could get brighter. Such attention filters–or focus assistants–are likely to become important parts of how we handle our daily lives. We’ll move from a world of “continuous partial attention” to one we might call “continuous augmented awareness.”

The article suggests that:

The trouble isn’t that we have too much information at our fingertips, but that our tools for managing it are still in their infancy.

Data.gov and GovFresh.com

Remixing government data

“Last year, before he took on the role of federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra came up with a new twist on the idea of government by the people: Let the people build some public-facing online government applications. . . Of course, repackaging government data for education and profit is nothing new. Dozens of businesses generate income by deciphering the notices that fly across the Federal Register and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites every day. But a recent confluence of technical and political factors portends a much wider use of government data. With Web 2.0 technology, anyone with some coding skills can make their own use of well-formed government data. And with the Obama administration calling for greater government transparency, Kundra wants to replicate D.C.’s success on a national level via the soon-to-be-launched Data.gov site.”

http://gcn.com/Articles/2009/05/04/Data-democratized.aspx

 

New Consolidated Government Information Stream

Launched May 3rd, GovFresh “is a live feed of official news from U.S. Government Twitter, YouTube, RSS, Facebook, Flickr accounts and more, all in one place.”

http://govfresh.com/

As an instructor of Advanced Legal Research I find the updates from the Law Revision Counsel to be particularly useful.  For example:

US Code: House has passed H.R. 1107, to enact Title 41 (Public Contracts) as positive law. For details of the bill, see http://bit.ly/xKKi5

 

Source: The Intersect Alert, a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.

http://units.sla.org/chapter/csfo/csfo.html

On the front lines of Twitter with founders Stone and Williams

From today’s Wall Street Journal (Saturday/Sunday, April 18 – 19, 2009, p. A11):

THE WEEKEND INTERVIEW with Evan Williams and Biz Stone / By Michael S. Malone

The Twitter Revolution

From the article:

“Under the guise of a fun communications tool, Twitter is building one of the world’s most valuable real-time information caches.”

President Obama’s social-networking maven

From a feature article in today’s San Jose Mercury News, “Obama’s Bay Area brain trust:”

Sonal Shah

Google.org

The White House hasn’t made it official, but Google.org’s Shah has e-mailed her work colleagues that she’s headed to the White House as director of social innovation and civic engagement. Easiest translation for her title: social-networking maven. Obama has often promised to make the inner workings of government, and his own White House, more transparent and interactive. Shah will be part of a team, including a chief information officer and still-to-be-named chief technology officer, charged with figuring out how to integrate Web 2.0 tools into a government digital network historically hobbled by massive bureaucracy. . . .  “Tweets” from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. could be coming soon.

Harvard Law Library director again in the news

News from the Berkman Center at HLS:

 

Internet Safety Technical Task Force Releases Final Report on Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies

Findings To Be Presented Today at State of the Net Conference in Washington, D.C.

January 14, 2009, Cambridge, Mass., and Washington, D.C. – The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today released the final report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of 29 leading Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology companies that joined together for a year-long investigation of tools and technologies to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth.

The Task Force was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace.  The report was delivered to the 52 Attorneys General in December, 2008.

To read the final report, including the executive summary, as well as reaction statements from members of the Task Force, visit:

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf,

 

John Palfrey, chair of the Task Force and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, will discuss the findings of the final report today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time at the Congressional Internet Caucus Fifth Annual State of the Net Conference in Washington, D.C. (http://www.netcaucus.org/conference/2009) along with members of the Task Force.

 

 

Source:

Seth Young
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard University
+1.617.384.9135
<syoung@cyber.law.harvard.edu>