This new feature is for lawyers who are busy with their law practice. You may hear others rave about valuable Internet resources. But often it seems that all you get from your Internet surfing is eye strain. Let Calloway and Kennaday serve as your Internet concierge for a tour of useful and interesting websites.
Sites for Sore Eyes
By Jim Calloway and Courtney Kennaday
Web 2.0: What Is It and Where Can You Find It?
One of the hottest trends on the Internet today is the phenomenon known as "Web 2.0." We've collected just a few of the best Web 2.0 sites to see.
First, what is Web 2.0? Wikipedia (itself a Web 2.0 invention) offers many ideas of what Web 2.0 is, but we like this simple one: “a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.” For a nice history of Web 2.0, check out Paul Graham’s blog post from 2005 at http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html.
You may have heard the phrase Web 2.0 and had the reaction that you weren’t even sure how to do everything with the Web 1.0 yet. Without going into all of the underlying technical advances, there are two basic points about the phrase Web 2.0:
1. There are now many web services that did not exist just a few years ago.
2. There are many nice online features that rely on user contributions, which is why Time magazine named “You,” the Internet user, as its Person of the Year for 2006.
Let’s examine a few of these services.
Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org)
Certainly Wikipedia has gotten some bad press lately, but the Wikipedia is still one of the first places we start when we want to learn more about something. Wikipedia is a classic example of a Web 2.0 application, with thousands of editor–contributors. Anyone can become a Wikipedia “editor.” Admittedly, there have been some instances of hoaxes and bad information placed on the site. But generally speaking, incorrect information is soon corrected by other volunteer–editors. The wide range of topics covered is nothing short of amazing. See the complete Wikipedia entry for Web 2.0 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0.
WEX ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex)
This is Cornell’s effort to create a legal encyclopedia along the lines of Wikipedia, but with approved editors and contributors. It has attracted a lot of interest and may be the first legal Web 2.0 app to take off. We’ve found that we don’t need our Black’s Law Dictionary as much, now that we can zip to Wex’s definitions page.
Zoho ( http://www.zoho.com/)
Zoho offers a suite of office productivity tools, most of which are 100 percent free! Check out their online word processor, spreadsheet application, presentation tool, Zoho wiki, and planner. Other productivity tools in the suite are reasonably priced.
Flickr ( http://flickr.com/)
In a short time, this site has developed a reputation as the one of the best photo-sharing sites on the Web. It’s very simple to upload your photos and display them in a virtual photo album, post them to your blog (if you have one), and share them (publicly or privately) with anyone. Flickr also takes advantage of “tagging,” so you can just type in a descriptive word—“London,” for example—and you'll instantly see the public photos of every picture that has the “London” tag. It’s a great image search tool with the images provided by the members of the public who are interested in sharing.
eHub ( http://www.emilychang.com/go/ehub/)
Emily Chang’s eHub blog is a great place to visit for the latest in Web 2.0 sites. In fact, Emily describes the site as “a constantly updated list of web applications, services, resources, blogs or sites with a focus on next generation web (web 2.0), social software, blogging, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, location mapping, open source, folksonomy, design and digital media sharing.” Emily is a web and interactive designer in San Francisco, and it’s clear she’s on the cutting edge of this new technology.
CalendarHub ( http://www.calendarhub.com/)
There are many calendar sites online, but we think CalendarHub is one of the best. You can import your calendar from Outlook, Yahoo mail, or other programs, or create your own calendar online. Use the online calendars to create reminders, grow your business, keep track of deadlines, promote a club or organization, and just stay in touch in general.
By now most of you have heard of blogs, which are easy-to-create, chronologically arranged websites, usually done by a single individual. According to Technorati, there are now 71 million blogs. Technorati ( http://www.technorati.com/) is a great place to search for blog content. So, if you want to see if there are blog posts on a particular topic, try there. Search directories of law-related blogs, sometimes called “blawgs” at Blawg.com ( http://www.blawg.com/), Blawg Republic ( http://www.blawgrepublic.com/dir/) and the Blogs of Law ( http://www.theblogsoflaw.com/). You may be surprised at how many blogs cover some obscure legal topic and may be useful in specialized study.
Google Modules ( http://googlemodules.com/)
Google’s Personalized Homepage ( http://www.google.com/ig) allows you to create your own customized Google page, using a limited directory to add “stuff” (Google’s word, not ours)—from tools to news to fun and games. Google Modules gives you even more choices (at this writing, there are 2,858 modules) and ways to customize your Google Homepage. Choose from silly modules (“Today’s Reason to Drink”) and serious ones (Business Dictionary). Or, if you’re a real techie, submit your own modules for others to use.
Web 2.0 Directory
If you want to search for even more web 2.0 services, go to the Web 2.0 directory at http://www.go2web20.net/. You can hover over one of the many icons for a brief explanation of the service or use the search feature to locate certain types of services.
Jim Calloway is the director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program. He served as chair of the ABA TECHSHOW™ 2005. Calloway publishes the weblog, Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips at http://jimcalloway.typepad.com, and was coauthor of the book Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour. He serves on the GPSSF Divsion Technology Board.
Courtney Kennaday has been the practice management advisor of the South Carolina Bar since 2002. Her PMAP (Practice Management Assistance Program) web pages are among the most visited on the SC Bar website and were recently ranked number five by the ABA in the top six best state bar resources in the country. One of her favorite things to do is to talk about law office technology.