Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why Blog? - Applications for Blogs

Scott Neisen of Attensa pointed out a post by Mike Gotta: Getting Over "Fear-of-Blogs".

Mr. Gotta proposed four categories for the application of Blogs: Internal Communication, Project Management, Community Building and Business Process.

Internal Communication.
In a previous post, I pointed out the virtues of using a blog for internal communication: Better Communication through Blogs, Wikis and RSS. I have focused on this category in the past because I think it would be an easy transition for the communicators. I see the challenge in weaning the communication consumers from getting all of their information in their inbox.

Project Management.
I have thought about using a blog as a communication tool within a project team, but I have doubts about how successful this would be for a legal case. I thought of using a blog to keep track of key decisions and information for an ongoing legal matter. However, on most legal matters there is too much communication among the working group. Emails flow constantly. I think having a common location for lawyers to deposit, share and read email would be more effective and more easily adopted than using a blog. It would be great if that email repository had an RSS feed so the group would know when a new message is added.

Community Building.
Blogs can be effective as a personal knowledge management tool [See my previous post: Why Blog? My Reasons]. The question is how that carries over to an application within the enterprise. I see two options for deploying blogs in the enterprise:

Option One: Set up a blog for a practice area of lawyers, allowing any of them to post information and comment on the information.
Option Two: Set up a blog specific to each user.

I think option one would be better served with a wiki. Information could be more easily be connected with similar information. Information can be built upon rather than being restated. With a wiki you still have the benefit of an RSS feed so users can see changes so you still get the communication benefits.

I have given a lot of thought about option two and I just do not know how users will react. Since our platform will allow us to easily set up blogs, I think I may just give a blog to anyone who wants one and let them do what they want with it. This strategy is less about community building, and more about harnessing personal knowledge management in a way that can be easily leveraged across the enterprise. Assuming blogs get used by a large base of users, you would end up with some duplication of information: when that important case comes down, several people may blog about it.

Business Process.
I am not sold on using a blog to address a business process in the law firm. I have not encountered much of a need among the lawyers for a process that is conversational in nature.

There is one process that I have been am looking at for using a blog. Some of our transactional practice areas are sending out an email to the group that a transaction occurred and some details about the transaction. Then our knowledge management administrators harvest that information into our matter information database.

By using a blog to post information, it moves the communication out of the email and creates a searchable repository that can be tied into the matters database.

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