In addition to the (overdue) VAT return which I did on Christmas Day, I spent the Christmas break getting rid of stuff and thinking about how best to present (that is, get and give value from) the masses of information which I collect in a year. Here is a round-up of the sites I use for publishing content.
Christmas always brings a conflict, in that Americans barely stop working where the UK more or less closes down. In my terms, that means that my inputs remain constant while the scope for outputs goes down – source material keeps coming in at the top of the hopper, but shovelling eDiscovery material out into the world is a sure way to lose a UK audience which wants to forget about it all over Christmas.
If, therefore, you are an American who thinks I have overlooked something interesting which you have produced in the last three weeks, I probably haven’t. I was here, reading it all and squirrelling it away for use in some form or another.
There are other reasons for wanting to stop writing over Christmas. I may not want to sit somnolently in front of the fire or drink myself stupid, but I do value the occasional reboot of the brain, a few days when I do not write. The other great benefit of the Christmas break is the opportunity to get rid of stuff. I deleted nearly 400 GB of electronic data, mainly duplicates (that’s just mine – multiply that by the number of people in your organisation and think what volumes you are keeping). I shredded large amounts of paper. I emptied drawers which have lain untouched since we moved here in 1999 and which proved to be full of the detritus of a paper-based office – paperclips, dried-up marker pens and Filofax paper for example. I weeded and tagged the 4,000 or so photographs of 2014 which were collected, processed and archived but which have barely been used.
An annual clear-out of the rubbish is pointless if you do not simultaneously devise ways of avoiding future pileups and of easily converting the data into information. That led us (my son William works with me on this) to look at the various publication platforms which we have. Each of them serves a purpose, and each may be the best medium for producing the different types of material – long articles, news items, photographs, video etc. We need, however, to make a more unified suite out of these disparate sources.
Some people write about their own working practices as if they held some universal truth for everyone else – all those dull articles headed “10 tips for better something or another”. You don’t give a toss about how I work, but you might like a quick guide to the various resources which I publish. Even if you would not, I would like to tell you, in case you are missing them.
Commentary Blog www.chrisdale.wordpress.com
This is my original blog, going back to 2007. Its primary purpose is commentary on the rules, cases and technology relevant to eDisclosure / eDiscovery across multiple jurisdictions. That ‘relevance” may sometimes appear tenuous – I was attacked in a comment recently by someone who appeared to resent the fact that I sometimes wrap the eDiscovery element in other things; he clearly preferred his eDiscovery served raw. He also seemed unaware of the extent that eDiscovery folds into other subjects like social media and information governance.
Over Christmas we retired the WordPress theme in use since 2007 in favour of one (the one you are looking at now) which is wider, whiter and crisper. Among other benefits, the new theme allows larger photographs.
Below the logos on the right of this blog is a link to the eDiscovery tab on my Rebelmouse site – more of that below. This allows the content from my industry blog (see next entry) to appear on the Commentary blog, a step towards better integration between them.
News Blog www.chrisdaleoxford.co.uk
The purpose here is to collect industry news – appointments, software developments, pending webinars or conferences. These posts are nearly always about a player in the eDiscovery industry and are generally shorter than the commentary posts (which can sometimes take a day or two to write). This blog is also home to our video interviews.
Doing these posts (sometimes several a day) inevitably cuts into the time for the longer, more thoughtful posts. I get about 200 page views per day across the two blogs.
Web site www.edisclosureinformation.co.uk
This has formal information such as my contact details and biography and it changes little. From here you can see my Twitter feed without having to be on Twitter.
I live on Twitter as @chrisdaleoxford – the first thing I open in the morning and the last thing I close at night. Its primary function is to gather information (the raw material for blog posts) and to disseminate it by my own tweets and by RTs of things which interest me and which I think will interest others.
Twitter serves a much more useful function that that, however. There is more to social media than just lobbing stuff across no man’s land and getting other stuff back. It is more also than “community”, “interaction”, and all those other (not unvaluable) words which marketing people and media types have appropriated to justify budget for “social media”. It is a cross between a large pub and a Venn Diagram, where I can come across people who contribute daily to my knowledge and understanding of everything from eDiscovery to history to semantics and beyond. Your true marketing “expert” will want to know exactly who the audience is, how it “segments” and what “messages” one should be sending out. I don’t care about all that as long as a reasonable number of those I come across have an interest in my main subject.
LinkedIn is too dull to read. I publish my own content to it (using Hootsuite so I don’t have to use the LinkedIn interface) and use it as a contact database, but do not spend time on it.
I started using Facebook because it is an increasingly important discovery source and I felt I should know how it worked. I don’t engage in business-related activity there, but I am generally happy to be FB friends with industry people whom I know through other means.
We take a lot of eDiscovery-related photographs, mainly at conferences, and could make better use of them both for themselves and to relieve the blocks of words.
They take a long time to process – I decline to just stick up snapshots with no thought about the best crop or contrast and without considering (for example) if everyone in the picture will be pleased to be shown as the camera has caught them; you would be surprised what percentage of group shots (such as a panel) includes at least one person with eyes closed or a less-than-flattering expression.
I put quite a lot of pictures on Flickr. The new theme for the Commentary blog has better display capabilities than the old one and frees me from Yahoo’s intrusive advertisements on Flickr. This is work in progress.
This is a new discovery. Rebelmouse allows you to paste a link, with or without tagging and a picture, and to display it on one or more tabs. I use it to make an instant news page, which changes during the day, of anything which I think others might find interesting. I use it in a tailored way – that is, nothing goes up on it without my deciding to put it there, which distinguishes it from those rather random auto-generated ones you see most days. The Rebelmouse eDiscovery tab appears on the Commentary Blog.
There is a lot more we can do – using video for more than just interviews, and beefing up the standing resources (as opposed to the continuing flow of current material), for example. Technology keeps bringing us new ways of capturing, repurposing and presenting information, and we aim to do more like this over the coming year.
Meanwhile, the flow of current stuff is back at full speed, and I had better knuckle down to it.