Sharepoint and Social Software for Knowledge Management

Friday, 29 May 2009

Knowledge Management and Sharepoint do they go together like chalk and cheese? In his session at the BIALL Conference Neil Richards from Knowledge Thoughts will look at how Sharepoint could be used for Knowledge Management. The BIALL Blogger got the low down on his session.

BB - Neil, this is I believe the first time you will have spoken at a BIALL Conference, what are you most looking forward to?

NR - I'm really looking forward to hearing stories (good and bad) about people's experiences with Sharepoint. It would be good to plant the seeds of a "Victims of Sharepoint" group, where people who have Sharepoint imposed upon them share tips and tricks. Don't misunderstand me, I'm a Sharepoint consultant and its a good product, but there are many people who've come to harm through no fault of their own.

BB - I understand you use Twitter, so in 140 characters, tell us what we need to know about Sharepoint?

NR - Swiss-army knife with many tools, none best in class. Often misunderstood, it is the basis for an Intranet and requires customisation

BB - Your talk is called using Sharepoint and Social Software for Knowledge Management, don't legal organisations already have tools to manage Knowledge?

NR - Of course they do, yet firms will buy Sharepoint regardless. With this in mind, non-techies need to understand what they're getting to guard against being blinded by science. Sharepoint *can* be amazing but it's going to cost $$$.

BB - What are some of the barriers to teams collecting and managing know-how effectively?

NR - Hard barriers: lack of tools / structure. There is little benefit to building a knowledge sharing culture if you don't have anywhere to store it.

Soft barriers: KM is not a natural habit for most people. In fact people tend to have an incentive NOT to collect / manage knowledge as its not considered real work. Worse, in law firms, some partners hide and hoard knowledge. For example, I remember one partner refused to share a precedent as other partners might use it to help their own clients. Crazy.

BB - Is MOSS the killer app, that all Legal organisations should be using to organise their know-how?

NR - Not a chance, for both technical and conceptual reasons. It has a number of technical limitations/bugs/quirks that drive me crazy. Mostly though, people misunderstand just what MOSS is and how to approach it. This can often be a consequence of how it's marketed by Microsoft and consulting firms, but also by IT to their internal customers. Senior partners do not "collaborate" by uploading documents to a website, they pick up the telephone. This is a good thing. No need to pay good money to stamp out desirable behaviour.

Anybody looking for a killer-app should read Good to Great by Jim Collins. I feel that what is needed is a move towards a great knowledge sharing organisation. Technology is a facilitator / enabler in becoming one, but is only a small component.

BB - Sharepoint is often praised because it has Blogs and Wikis incorporated within it. Is this how legal organisations are primarily using Sharepoint?

NR - Collaboration tools tend to be a primary reason for installing Sharepoint, but wikis and blogs were an afterthought. Sharepoint wikis are more trouble than they are worth but the blog technology is probably good enough for the needs of most, and does have some nice features. Checkout the complaints of Doug Cornelius on his KMSpace blog with regard to Sharepoint wikis
Instead, Teamsites form the basis for typical Sharepoint collaboration. A teamsite is similar in functionality to client extranets, allowing users inside a firm to create webpages, share documents and maintain lists. For law firms who already have a DMS and an Intranet, this will seem redundant. As a consequence the Teamsite functionality is not terribly useful without customisation to integrate financial data, training material and knowhow.

BB - It sounds like you're going to talk about social software, what are some of the misconceptions you've heard around social software and how could individuals involved in Knowledge Management address these?

NR - Myth #1 I'm not really going to talk much about social software, not in a wiki & blog sense anyways. The list functionality I'll be talking about is pretty helpful, but it's just a group managing information online. There's no magic involved. If people want to ask questions about Social Software, more than happy to discuss them.

Myth #2 Quality knowledge can emerge from the Primordial Social Goo using only a wiki or a blog. A concerted & focused effort is needed to create an environment where knowledge grows from social contributions. A slow and careful approach is advisable in my view.

BB - If you could recommend one social software site for all law librarians to use, what would it be and why?

NR - >> By storing bookmarks online you can apply metadata to anything with a url, including pages on your Intranet. It lets you search all you of your bookmarks (I have over 500) using tags. Further you can suggest pages to your colleagues/friends and use the network effect to find the top resources on any topic.

Librarians may detest the idea, but tagging is extremely useful and Delicious provides a safe environment to learn just how effective it can be. I defy a team of librarians to catalogue the Internet to the same extent and quality as

BB - Finally if you could attend one session at the BIALL Conference, what would it be?

NR - Yours of course James, but I'm only coming up for the Saturday sessions so I may miss it (haven't seen the agenda yet). Let's say the dinner on Friday, as I'll get a chance to meet a ton of people.

Many thanks to Neil for answering all the questions raised by the BIALL Blogger. The last answer was especially insightful! I'm really looking forward to Neil's session on the final day of the Conference.

Posted by James Mullan at 09:30 0 comments  

KS and Tell : Harnessing Web 2.0 at the College ofLaw

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

In the next post in a series of posts which look at some of the session taking place at the BIALL Conference. The BIALL Blog asked Tony Simmonds from the College of Law about his experiences with Web 2.0 and his session at the BIALL Conference.

BB - Tony your session is called KS and Tell : Harnessing Web 2.0 at the College of Law. How important is it for Law Firms and Academic establishments to look at how they can use Web 2.0 to deliver some of the services they provide?

TS - I would say it's very important. Partly this is because Web 2.0 genuinely offers better ways of delivering and sharing information (especially across multiple locations). Partly it's because the tools are fast becoming mainstream in the lives of our users. Forward-thinking are planning for big changes in how we all work, with networked collaboration playing a fast-growing role. I think information professionals are equipped to be in the vanguard.

BB - Without giving too much away, what have some of the barriers been to the adoption of Web 2.0 at the College of Law?

TS - Lawyers are by and large a risk-averse bunch, and we have encountered some cultural resistance. People have been cautious about issues of security and confidentiality of information. This does matter - but we shouldn't let it block innovation. I'll address this more fully in my talk, and suggest some solutions.

BB - There are many misconceptions about how Web 2.0 are/could be used what is the worst one you've heard and what role do you think Law Librarians have in changing individuals attitudes to some of these tools?

TS - In higher education, the worst student misconception has to be that it's OK to use Wikipedia for legal research. I hope librarians will pioneer and advocate Web 2.0 tools, but we must also educate students about appropriate use (to give them a dose of risk-aversion, in fact!)

BB - How much did you know about Web 2.0 before you embarked on these projects?

TS - Very little - it's been a continuous learning curve, and we still haven't got all the answers (not by a long shot!)

BB - What has surprised you most about the projects?

TS - How easy it is to get experiments off the ground. So much of the free software out there on the web is robust, visually appealing and easy to set up.

BB - If you were to recommend one Web 2.0 tool for Law Librarians to use, what would it be and why?

TS - Start an internal blog: inform and consult your users; generate debate; build a community, and build the library's profile.

BB - How do you think BIALL could be harnessing Web 2.0?

TS - It would be great if a Web 2.0 tool emerged that gave Professional Development the means to deliver the Legal Foundations course to members outside London.

BB - Finally what session are you most looking forward to?

TS - Emily Allbon, "Get Out of my Face(book)": if anyone knows how best to connect with students, Emily does!

Many thanks to Tony for answering the BIALL Bloggers questions!

Posted by James Mullan at 11:55 0 comments  

Removing the “Hard” from Hansard

Friday, 22 May 2009

This headline from the House of Butter blog certainly grabbed my attention! The post describes a new service Justis is rolling out called Justis Parliament, from the Justis Press Release:

"The accessibility of material from Hansard and other data from the Houses of Parliament is set to improve immeasurably on 1st June when the notoriously difficult-to-navigate website is indexed by a new service, Justis Parliament"

Sounds great and the site is free to use until the official launch on the 1st of June.

Posted by James Mullan at 14:30 0 comments  

What do you call yourself?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

There was an interesting discussion earlier today on LIS-LAW where someone asked the question "What is the Library called in your organisation?" Some interesting reponses from the list included:

  • Information Centre
  • Information Unit
  • Information Services
  • Knowledge & Information Services

The question is, what do you call yourself?

Behind the scenes at Manchester

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

In four weeks time the BIALL Conference in Manchester officially starts, so what better time to ask the Chair of the Conference Committee John Furlong a few questions about the work that goes on behind the scenes. Many thanks to John for answering the questions!

BB - The theme for this years Conference is "Locks and Keys" who thinks up the name of the Conferences and is there much discussion about what they should be called?

JF - Over the past number of years we have tried to come up with a witty title which reflects what the Conference is about and also where it is taking place. Hence we have had "Beyond the Pale" (Dublin), "Facing the Front" (Brighton) and this years title is meant to reflect one of the themes of the Conference - security and copyright and also Manchester's association with canals. Incidentally it is the same title as was used the last time we were in Manchester in 1995.

BB -Aside from your "official" visits to Manchester, have you been to Manchester before? if so what would you say are the "must see" sights?

I think Manchester is a great city. It has a great cosmopolitan feel - lots of coffee shops, bars and restaurants. The Museum of Science and Industry is certainly worth a look and I have in
my day been on the grand tour of Old Trafford. The Imperial War Museum North where we will hold the dinner on the Thursday is an exceptional building designed by Daniel Liebskind and on
the night delegates will be able to have a free tour of the exhibition areas within the museum. Off the beaten track I would recommend a visit to Afflecks Palace which is a quirky collection
of market stalls and unusual shops close to the Arndale Centre. I also think that the Royal Exchange building is worth a look to see the amazing glass walled theatre constructed on the floor of the Exchange.

BB - It must be really exciting working on the Conference Committee especially now the Conference is only four weeks away, what gives you the greatest buzz?

JF - I think we all feel great relief when the programme has been put together and we can see that it offers a good selection of sessions and presentations. I am not sure if it is a buzz or high stress during the Conference itself ! You are always worried about something that might
go wrong until the Conference finally closes.

BB - As Chair of the Conference committee are you effectively on duty "all the time"?

JF - I suppose all of the Conference Committee are on call throughout the Conference although maybe we relax our guard back in the hotel bar at the end of the night!!

BB - What's the weirdest question you ever been asked whilst attending a BIALL Conference?

I think I must have blotted them all out or maybe I have become accustomed to strange requests. I promise that if I get anything really strange this year, I will let you know!!

BB - This year is the 40th BIALL Conference can we expect anything special?

JF - Yes, we are planning a birthday celebration for the Conference on the Thursday evening. We are hoping to theme it to the location (Imperial War Museum) with a big band sound. We are also hoping to provide all of the delegates with a small token to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Conference.

BB - Without giving too much away what can we expect in terms of entertainment on the Thursday and Friday nights?

JF - Thursday is as above. Friday will be a Black and White Ball in the wonderful Midland Hotel . This will be a great evening in one of Manchester's most iconic landmarks.

BB - Finally what session are you most looking forward to?

JF - Dave Snowden is a great speaker and gets minds moving. I hope to catch that at least. Often , Committee members are not able to make sessions as there is a need to be elsewhere sorting out something. Needless to say, I will also be looking forward to the bang of the gavel on Saturday afternoon bringing to a close what I hope will be a successful

Any more questions for JOhn? post a comment on the Blog and we will see what we can do!

Posted by James Mullan at 17:08 0 comments  

Four to Manchester

Monday, 18 May 2009

Before anyone gets worried I'm not talking about Manchester United scoring four goals. With only four weeks until the BIALL Conference in Manchester, it's time to look at some of the things you could do whilst oh boy are there some treats in store for anyone who decides to go to Manchester early.

First up Britney...yes you read that right Britney Spears in playing the MEN Manchester Arena on Wednesday the 17th of June. The next night...yes the next night the Pet Shop Boys play at the Apollo Theatre. Then on the 19th of June Boyzone play the MEN Manchester Arena and finally once you drawn breath and your ears have recovered The Saturdays play at the Apollo Theatre, note if you're under 14 you will need to be accompanied by an adult.

If you don't fancy having your ear drums bashed 4 nights in a row then there are many more events you could attend. So if you fancy a bit of samba, some Whiskey tasting or if you fancy a behind the scenes tour of BBC Manchester then Manchester is the place to be in June, especially if you happen to be a Law Librarian!

Posted by James Mullan at 09:30 1 comments  

Inner Temple and Middle Temple Libraries to merge?

Friday, 8 May 2009

The Executive Committees of Inner Temple and Middle Temple have agreed to commission a feasibility study to investigate the potential benefits of merging their Libraries and creating a Joint Education and Advocacy Centre.

The study will be overseen by a working group chaired jointly by Master Jonathan Hirst for Inner Temple and Master Stanley Burnton, Deputy Treasurer, for Middle Temple.

The results of the study are likely to be available in the late summer and no decisions are anticipated until much later in the year, after full consultation with staff and consideration by the relevant Inn Committees, Bench Table and Parliament. A full statement from Vivian Robinson QC, Treasurer of the Inner Temple is available here.

If you have any comments on the statement, please email Margaret Clay

Posted by James Mullan at 20:23 0 comments  

LexisNexis marks 10 years of the CPR

Monday, 4 May 2009

The 26th April 2009 marked the ten year anniversary of the implementation of the Civil Procedure Rules. To "celebrate" Lexis Nexis organisedhosted a debate exploring those issues and assessing the impact of the CPR, chaired by Lord Neuberger.

You can watch excerpts from the debate or the whole thing (60 minutes) but you will need to register first if you want to watch the entire debate.

[Hat Tip - Strictly Legal - The Birbeck's Law Librarian Blog]

Posted by James Mullan at 10:00 0 comments