Monday, March 31, 2003

Nice dissection of Dean's platform

Examining Dean’s platform. I found a nice point by point examination of Howard Dean’s stated platform so far. [The Long Letter]

Jerome Armstrong on Ridder

In comments at the Dean2004 blog, Jerome Armstrong makes a good point about Ridder’s departure:

A few months ago, the campaign realized they had the wrong campaign model. Last year, it looked like it was going to be a three-state contest, with IA, NH, and SC deciding the nomination. Along those lines, Ridder was the one of those who had the ground experience to hire a staff of 50 in each of those states, and run the campaign in such a mode.

Everything changed with the primary shake-up, and it’s become a national campaign much earlier. Hence, Trippi and Binder taking a much earlier leading role in the campaign than initially mapped out.

More info about staff departures

The Times Argus from Barre Montpelier Vermont has a bit more detail about Allen and Ridder’s departures. Allen claims it’s coincidental – that she’s leaving to spend more time with her teenage sons. And Ridder will stay on as consultant, but it looks like Joe Trippi is running things and my guess is that there simply wasn’t room for both to run the campaign.

Rick Ridder steps down as campaign chief

Not sure what to make of this news, so I’ll just post it and reserve judgment till I hear from the campaign:

Howard Dean’s campaign, meanwhile, announced that two of his top aides were leaving.

Campaign manager Rick Ridder is stepping down as of April 15, leaving the position vacant for now. Ridder will return to his Denver home and his firm will continue to consult for Dean’s candidacy, the campaign said in a statement.

Press Secretary Susan Allen said she was leaving effective April 8 to spend more time with her family but also would remain a consultant.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

April 26 house party

I’m in the early stages of planning a house party for Governor Dean that will be held on April 26. I really need to hear from folks who are interested in helping out with the organizational details, with building contact lists, etc. If you are in the DuPage County (Illinois) area and are interested in helping out, please contact me. Thanks!

Dean meetup count over 9,000

On March 14, the Meetup numbers for the Dean for America campaign were just a hair over 6,000. Today – just two weeks later – that number has grown by 50%. Unreal. Tally today: 9, 351.

Looking forward to the Dean meetup in Naperville on Wednesday!

Friday, March 28, 2003

Dean hitting $1.5m fundraising goal

The AP is reporting that the campaign is going to hit its internal goal of $1.5m raised in the first quarter of 2003. This is a far cry from the other campaigns (Kerry and Edwards are both in the $4m to $5m range), but responses from some pundits are positive.

This is a strong showing from Dean. Now let’s see what they do with Q2.

Gary Hart has a weblog

Gary Hart Joins the Blogosphere. Former Senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.) has started a blog. He joins former Vermont Governor Howard Dean as a 2004 presidential candidate to embrace this technology. [via] [Political Parrhesia]

Very interesting. Unlike Dean’s blog (which is maintained by the campaign and not by Governor Dean himself), this blog appears to be written directly by Hart.

Blogs are reaching a remarkable arc: many credit 9/11 as the original push, with this war receiving a considerable amount of attention for the fact that everyone – citizens, journalists, soldiers – seem to be blogging it.

My prediction – the 2004 presidential election will be the next watershed event for blogs.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Boston Globe on speech at Harvard

The Globe reports that there were more than 600 people in attendance – a standing room only crowd – at Governor Dean’s speech at the JFK Library yesterday.

The media sure wants this to be a dogfight – many of the press accounts of the candidacies of Dean and Kerry are increasingly pointing out the barbs both are shooting at each other. This is early for a pitched battle – but perhaps Dean’s confident enough in his fundraising numbers that he’ll get a nice boost when the numbers are announced in a couple weeks?


Wireless audio in the home

Phase 1 of the basement project is done – everything’s framed out. It’s hard to believe that I did this (power tools weren’t my forte) - but the hard work is still ahead. A friend is doing the wiring for me right now and will be done tomorrow; dry-walling can begin next week. But as I contemplate that less-than-exciting project, I can at least dream about what it will be like when it’s all done.

Just ran across this article at Slate, which does a good job of showing how you can stream MP3s from your computer to your home stereo using WiFi. Nice.

Amused to Death

If you’ve never listened to Roger Waters’ masterful Amused to Death, find yourself a copy and give it a listen this weekend. It’s an album he started writing in the late 80s, and didn’t finish until the conclusion of the Gulf War. It’s a sad but brilliantly evocative album that focuses (among other things) on wars that play out live on TV. (“I don’t mind about the war / that’s one of the things I like to watch / If it’s a war going on / ‘cause then I know if our side’s winning / if our side’s losing”)

You can read the entire set of lyrics to the songs here.

Howard Dean at Harvard last night

Presidential candidate Howard Dean gave a talk at Harvard last night. He asked an interesting question. Next year, how will we feel when China invades Taiwan because they think they have weapons of mass destruction? Has the new Bush Doctrine, pre-emptive wars, unleashed a philosophy of world power that we may not be so comfortable with? [Scripting News]

This “slippery slope” argument received a bit of attention a week ago when Eugene Volokh deconstructed it in Slate. In essence, Volokh (who’s an incredibly smart guy – I’ve written about him before) says that China won’t follow our lead in invading Taiwan because they’ll simply look at their own interests, and besides, they don’t really care what we do.

I’m not so sure I agree. Regardless of China’s “real” motives in dealing with Taiwan, I think it’s entirely possible that they would nevertheless use the Bush doctrine as a way to justify their actions. Even if they know it to be hollow or lacking merit. The real problem then becomes: what will the Bush Administration do when faced with other countries using the Bush doctrine to further interests that are inconsistent with U.S. interests?

Ultimately, I think that’s the failure of the Bush doctrine. It presumes that American security can be obtained in a vacuum, that it’s not ultimately dependent on what other states do. And I’m glad Howard Dean is raising that point.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Deja vu, courtesy of Feedster

For those of you who have not yet swung by Feedster, you should give it a look. It’s a powerful new addition to the searcher’s arsenal.

Many weblogs provide XML feeds. These feeds are in one of two popular formats – RSS or RDF. (Though the flame wars between the two camps are legendary, and, after a beer or three, kind of fun to read, it doesn’t really matter which for purposes of this discussion.) Feedster monitors those XML feeds (as of this writing, it’s monitoring over 14,000 feeds), and gives you a centralized place to go to search across those 14,000 weblogs. Where Google searches the entire web, Feedster is looking just at current posts in those 14,000 weblogs.

To get the most out of Feedster, you can subscribe to searches via RSS. (Try to get your head around that one.) Once you do a search at Feedster, just look for the orange XML button at the bottom of the page. Copy that URL into your news aggregator – and every time your aggregator updates, it runs the query at Feedster and you’ll get any new posts made by anyone in the blogosphere (at least, anyone monitored by Feedster, which seems to be about everybody) since the last time you ran the query. Way cool.

Now for the deja vu part – I posted a piece on my Howard Dean weblog this evening at 10:48pm titled “Watch Howard Dean”. When my aggregator ran at 11:30, one of the items that showed up was a new post (from my Feedster saved search for “Howard Dean”) pointing back to my weblog.


Cool, but eerie.

(Of course, this post will show up in that same search too.)

Practical use of this? Set up Feedster queries for you, your clients, your competitors, your friends… you get the idea. If anyone is talking about things that matter to you on a weblog somewhere, you’ll know about it. Within the hour.

Anyone want to predict how long before Feedster gets bought?

"Watch Howard Dean"

Jonathan Raban, a British ex-pat living in Seattle, writes a long “letter“ in this week’s Seattle Weekly about the effect the war is having on the political landscape in the U.S. His conclusion? “Watch Howard Dean.”

Here’s the key graph:

The immediate upshot of his speech (by no means limited to the war) was an orgy of text-messaging from state delegates to their party officials back home, saying that Gephardt had rescued himself after a bad start, Lieberman had flopped, and Howard Dean had carried the day gloriously, on the economy as much as on the invasion of Iraq. Dean is far from being a Gene McCarthy figure; he comes with a raft of policies, one of which happens to be about the war. In the last month, he has moved from being an utterly obscure figure to anyone not from Vermont to being a neck-and-neck front-runner in the Democratic nomination race. If this has come as a surprise to most national political commentators, it doesn’t seem at all surprising if you happen to live in Seattle.

Raban nails it, in an analysis I’m surprised more domestic pundits haven’t made. Much of the writing so far seems binary: either the war goes quickly (helping Bush, and to the extent it helps any Democrats, it helps Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards but definitely bad for Dean) or it goes badly, in which case the only person to get a boost would be Dean. Bottom line? Raban says that the war will end, the dust will settle, and many Americans will ask “Why?”

At which point they’ll see Howard Dean.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Home with the flu

I’ve spent most of the last two days in bed, recovering from a stomach flu that I probably got from one of my kids. It’s never fun when you’re going through it, but you take it easy, try and remember that it’s relatively brief and you’ll be back to normal soon.

Or, if you’re Tiger Woods, you suck it up and go out and slaughter your competitors. In between vomiting.

Do you ever get the feeling that he’s not human?

Friday, March 21, 2003

E-mail Reveals Real Leaders

I’ve heard of similar studies before, but now HP has gotten into the game, studying how large groups email each other within a company to determine what the real organizational structure is. Apparently, they say that how people email each other determines who the really important people are, and who really reports to whom. They also say it determines who is at the “heart” of any sub-group. I wonder how accurate the system really is, and if it’s actually useful for anything. Will people risk getting laid off if their email usage patterns indicate they not as important as they think they are? Found via GMSV. [Techdirt]

Dean Downloads

If you’re looking for downloadable flyers about Howard Dean, head over to – where the campaign has put together three PDFs suitable for printing and distribution.

I’ll be sharing a PowerPoint template I put together shortly for use in your own house parties…

NH Poll - Dean tied with Kerry

The Union Leader out of New Hampshire reports that Governor Dean has picked up ground, pulling into a statistical dead heat among likely voters in NH. Less obvious but just as interesting – the same poll had favorable/unfavorable rankings for each candidate:

  • Kerry: 69/7

  • Dean: 40/9

  • Lieberman: 51/28

  • Gephardt: 50/19

Dean narrowed the gap by picking up a lot of undecided voters – a good sign, since this poll still has 20% undecided.

Take out the trash

Any fan of West Wing will recall the episode titled Take out the trash. The term taking out the trash is a euphemism for burying news items that are embarassing to the administration by casually mentioning them on a Friday afternoon – so that the effect on the administration in the news is blunted by the weekend.

Who needs TV when you get the real thing? Turns out that yesterday, the National Security Council’s senior director for combatting terrorism resigned, the second upheval in the White House’s counterterrorism group in 18 months:

A number of officials noted that [Rand] Beers was one of the most experienced NSC officials. In addition to his two previous tours there, he served as assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement and held various positions in the department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. He was also deputy political adviser to the supreme allied commander in Europe.

Beers declined to comment yesterday, but close associates said he had considered leaving the high-pressure job for some time before submitting his one-paragraph resignation letter on Monday. Although some speculated that his resignation was a protest against the White House’s increased concentration on Iraq at the expense of the overall counterterrorism effort, others cited general weariness with fighting internal battles.

And that’s not the only trash. Yesterday marked the third US diplomat to resign over our Iraq policy:

Mary A. Wright, the number two official at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia, had spent 15 years in the foreign service and 26 years in the Army and Army Reserves.

“I strongly believe that going to war now will make the world more dangerous, not safer,” Wright said in a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. “In our press for military action now, we have created deep chasms in the international community and in important international organizations. Our policies have alienated many of our allies and created ill will in much of the world.”

Wright, the highest-ranking diplomat to resign over the current situation, also criticized what she called a “lack of policy on North Korea” and said she disagrees with the administration’s “lack of effort” in resolving the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. She said the United States has “done little” to end the violence. She called on the administration to “exert our considerable financial influence” on the Israelis and Palestinians alike.

“I have served my country for almost 30 years in some of the most isolated and dangerous parts of the world,” concluded Wright, who won a State Department heroism award in 1997 in Sierra Leone. “I want to continue to serve America. However, I do not believe in the policies of the administration and cannot defend or implement them.”

John Brady Kiesling, a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Athens resigned in February, telling Powell in a letter that he no longer believed he was upholding the interests of the American people and the world by supporting President Bush’s policies.

“The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests,” Kiesling said. “Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.”

John H. Brown resigned last week from the foreign service after serving for 22 years. He said: “The president’s disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century.”

Big news, no? I sure think so. Good thing it appeared on page A12 of yesterday’s Washington Post. Otherwise we might have missed it…

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Cisco buys Linksys

Cisco Buys Linksys – Moves Into The Home. In a bit of a surprise, Cisco today announced that they’re buying Linksys for $500 million. Linksys is the leader in wireless routers for homes by a long shot, so this lets Cisco move down the chain to a more consumer level offering. Cisco has recently been trying to make their product configurations more “user friendly” and Linksys has the reputation for having one of the more user friendly configuration systems around, so that makes sense. Cisco has also decided that they’re going to keep the Linksys brand name – which makes sense since it’s so strong in the retail market right now. It seems that the old gameplan for any networking company remains in place: grow big enough and get enough attention until Cisco wants to buy you. [Techdirt]

Linksys was closing in on $400m in revenue in 2002. Cisco got a bargain.

Coalition of the willing

I’m listening to Ari Fleischer’s briefing, and he just reeled off a bunch of stats that are supposed to impress us about the “coalition of the willing”:

  • more than 35 countries
  • more than 1 billion people
  • every race, religion, ethnicity
  • etc.

Here’s the problem in citing those stats: Of the 35 countries, only twoONLY TWO – have a simple majority of the public who support the U.S.‘s action in Iraq. Turkey, now a member of the coalition (allowing us overflight rights), has just 10% of its population supporting the war. Many countries are currently trending at 70-80% against the war. So of the 1 billion people represented by these 35 countries, it’s safe to assume that fewer than 200 million are in favor of what’s currently going on. (Even if that number were higher, the point remains – a majority of the people in this so-called “coalition of the willing” are vehemently against what their governments are doing.)

I’ve never been under the illusion that Ari Fleischer and the truth are close friends, but don’t you think on Day 1 of the war we could spare the obfuscation and stop making it seem like this is something for which a groundswell exists?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Where is Raed?

If you’re interested in a first-person account from Baghdad, check out “Where is Raed?“. I’m disappointed that I haven’t heard more of this unvarnished information through the major media, but grateful that this site exists.

Check it out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Help. My laptop's broken.

(As you read this, keep in mind that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an employee of the I.T. department.)

Cell phone rang at 9:45pm. It’s one of our salesmen. He’s on the road, prepping for a demo tomorrow morning. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

“When I press my ‘k’ key, the number ‘2’ shows up.”

Easy enough – his numlock is on. Only he doesn’t know how to turn it off. And I’m sitting at a ThinkPad, which actually labels the NumLock “NumLock” (go figure).

How to walk someone through this? He can’t see what I’m telling him to look for – and he’s more than a bit panicked that his computer is “broken”.

Answer? Google images. Search for “Gateway Solo laptop keyboard“, follow the first link. A little blurry, but enough to tell me that he should probably be looking at his function keys. (Turns out that Gateway in its infinite wisdom calls it “Pad Lock “.)

Now why was he calling me? Well, when you work for a software company and the developers think you’re the geek, you’re bound to get calls from the sales guys.

It could’ve been worse. 24 could have been on tonight.

When Your Future's at Stake...

That was Brobeck’s tag line, part of its much-talked about but under-analyzed branding strategy. Until now, that is. Deborah McMurray, one of my co-authors on the cleverly titled The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, dissects Brobeck’s brand and the repercussions of its dissolution on the blog devoted to our book. It’s great reading.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Dean's speech to the California Democratic Party...

The video archive page is updated and includes Governor Dean’s speech to the California Democratic Party on Saturday.

"I want my country back!"

A first-hand write-up from an attendee at the California Democratic Party convention:

But the most amazing part was the finale, with a fiery Dean pounding the podium:
I want my country back!

I don’t want to listen to fundamentalist preachers anymore!

When Dean uttered this last line, the whole place went nuts. Utter pandemonium. It was literally one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. [Daily Kos]

Blogger RSS feed problems

Anyone else having problems with feeds they subscribe to at Specifically, I’m seeing items show up in my aggregator repeatedly – even though they aren’t new. I can’t tell if this is a Radio bug or if it’s a problem at blogspot. com mis-identifying old content as new.

If you subscribe to ExcitedUtterances, Dean2004, NYCSmith and are not having trouble like I am, could you let me know?

Dean campaign sponsoring search results at Google

The Dean campaign is demonstrating their Internet savvy yet again – this time by being the only Democratic candidate to sponsor search results at Google. Check out the right-hand column at Google when you search for “Howard Dean“. (Searches for the other candidates reveal that, which sells buttons and the like, has sponsored each search result but the candidates haven’t.)

Saturday, March 15, 2003

First presidential candidate with a weblog

Check out – I believe this makes Howard Dean the first U.S. presidential candidate to have a weblog.

Anyone know of any other candidates for their country’s highest office who’ve maintained weblogs? I figure I would have heard about them, but just wanted to be sure before I changed “first in the U.S.” to “first in the world”.

Dean Call to Action blog online

Straight from the campaign:

Hello friends,

I just wanted to let you know that the campaign has set up a Howard Dean 2004 Call to Action weblog. Tell your friends about it and visit it daily to find out how you can help elect Howard Dean the next President of the United States!

Visit the new blog at:


Friday, March 14, 2003

Blogs as journalism? Who cares?

So here’s an interesting twist on the blogs-as-journalism meme (my second in a week, no less): I maintain a blog about a presidential campaign. In that blog, I keep an outline which is an up-to-date archive of the major articles about the candidate. It generates a lot of traffic, and I’ve received quite a bit of positive feedback about it.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a journalist who’d written an article about the candidate, just to make sure that I included the article in the archive. Heh.

I don’t think the “are blogs journalism” question is really all that important. From my point of view, those who blog are an enormous resource for journalists. And vice versa. In a content-rich environment (like, oh, the Internet), both play a vital role. Some journalists may see that as a threat. Fortunately, an increasing number don’t. - campaign rallies nationwide

Like Online Dating, With a Political Spin. Hundreds of people turned out in New York last week to hear a presidential candidate at an event organized not by his campaign staff but by a Web site. By Lisa Napoli. [New York Times: Technology]

I’m posting this to my personal blog (and not to the one I maintain about the Dean campaign) because of its significance to online communities, the impact of the Internet on political activism, and as a watershed event that will likely stand out as the moment the landscape shifted. (Really – I’m trying to keep the advocacy to a dull roar here.)

The background: Scott Heiferman is the guy behind, which sold to for $15m in 1999. He is now the founder of, a conceptually elegant site designed to facilitate face to face meetings among likeminded people. (It’s one of those “I-could’ve-thought-of-that-but-didn’t” ideas.)

Now to the watershed event: last week, more than 500 people turned up for a campaign rally for Howard Dean in Manhattan. The interesting part? The Dean campaign had nothing to do with the event. After 300 had RSVP’d, Dean shrewdly decided to show up and show his thanks. That pushed RSVPs to the stratosphere, and attendance exceeded available space by more than 200 people.

Early evidence that Dean may be a favorite among the politically active Net denizens: Dean’s supporters at number nearly 6,000 people nationwide, a number ten times that of the next Democratic candidate. (Sen. Kerry has 600 supporters nation-wide, Sen. Edwards has 400, Rep. Gephardt has 49, Sen. Lieberman and Rep. Kucinich are tied at 27, Rev. Sharpton has 6, and Carol Moseley-Braun has 4.) In fairness to the campaigns, it’s possible (even likely) that they are not steering as much traffic to the site to encourage participation which may explain the skewed numbers (see below), but is fast becoming a clearinghouse for anyone who wants to get together with like-minded people.

What is most interesting in all of this is that the Dean campaign – an underdog (to put it mildly) when it comes to fundraising – has contracted with to share e-mail addresses and start planning official campaign appearances and events. In other words, they’ve outsourced some of the infrastructure of managing volunteer events and rallies – a critical component of a campaign, but one that could easily kill an underfunded and undermanned campaign. The potential upside of all of this is that Dean will leverage a small but sophisticated company ( has just 11 employees) for potentially enormous impact – all while keeping costs much lower than if they had to build it themselves.

(If you’re interested, you can bypass the NY Times account of the event and go straight to a first-hand report as recounted on the DeanBlog.)

Thursday, March 13, 2003

George Soros on board?

This report in today’s Seattle Times raises questions whether Soros has “endorsed” Dean; the article claims he would endorse “either Kerry or Dean.”

Interesting. Hedging his bets?

RSS Autodiscovery

I totally missed this the first time around, but it’s brainlessly easy and adds a nice little enhancement to your blog. A quick review – many blogs publish two versions of their site – HTML, which is what you view when you look at the blog through a web browser. At the same time, many publish an alternate version of the site in XML. This is known as an RSS feed (for Really Simple Syndication) – and allows other programs (most notably, news aggregators) to periodically monitor your blog to look for new content.

Last year, a couple people wondered if there would be an easy way for the HTML versions of your blog to point to the XML version. Turns out it can be done quite elegantly – and most blog vendors built it into their application in a few hours.

Why is this important? Well, when you’re visiting a weblog whose RSS feed you’d like to subscribe to, it’s now simple to click a button in your browser that will “discover” the RSS feed and send it to your aggregator automatically. It’s nice.

If you’re a Radio Userland user, all you have to do is follow the instructions here; it’s a one-line macro that goes into your template. Once published, it adds the little snippet of code that allows web browsers to auto-discover RSS feeds. (Movable Type users can go here; others should follow the instructions for doing it manually here.)

The slick part comes next – adding the “auto subscribe” bookmarklet to your browser that will discover the RSS feed ( assuming the site you’re visiting has auto-discovery enabled) and add it to your aggregator:

One really nice feature if you’re a Newzcrawler user – it has auto-disovery built in; whenever you’re at a site with auto-discovery turned on, it automatically pops up a hint that lets you know you can subscribe to the feed. Nice!

Bottom line – add the line of code to your template and make your visitors’ lives a lot easier. Win-win.

Meet The Nation...

Progress mag The Nation magazine published a lengthy profile of Governor Dean this week, and it is accompanied by an hour-long interview with Radio Nation’s David Corn. No sound-bites, lots of substance.

Corn tries to paint Dean with some labels, and isn’t exactly blown away by the governor. Then again, that may not be a bad thing:

Dean is not overly polished (which might be a plus), hardly an imposing or commanding figure (which is not). Brusque? He does have a doctor’s that’s-the-way-it-is manner. He’s no charmer. But he is smart and sharp, and can exude a cool passion. And he’s trying to cut a path for himself as an ideals-driven, angry but reasonable and rational, middle-loving, just-the- facts message-candidate who embraces pragmatism—one who takes on Bush Inc. for its warmongering and out-of-whack domestic priorities (though his candidacy, as of now, is far more defined by his war opposition than his other stands—which means he has a lot riding on whatever happens in Gulf War II). He’s also a Democrat who bemoans his own party for its general wimpiness, rightward drift and inability to kick Bush squarely in the teeth. With these themes, he may well have an appeal for die-hard Democrats not put off by his lack of national standing or his more cerebral than charismatic political stylings. Yet he is a message candidate who recoils from ideological politics. “I don’t really consider myself a progressive,” Dean remarks, “though by national standards maybe I am…. I’m determined to change America. We are heading in the wrong direction.” And if he has to sound (mostly) like a liberal to accomplish such change, so be it.

Dan Gillmor on Groove

Guess I’m not the only one speculating about Kapor’s departure from Groove:

Dan Gillmor writes in his column today :

My immediate instinct was to praise Kapor for showing honor and principle. This implicitly suggested a lack of those qualities on the part of Groove’s leaders, and on reflection I concluded I was being too harsh. They aren’t bad people, and toolmakers can’t always pick and choose their customers.
Yet I’m troubled by many things about Groove these days. One is the company’s deepening embrace with major investor Microsoft, which has effectively become an arm of the government with its monopoly software and cozy deals with the Justice Department and other agencies. Groove, too, has seen government as a major client — and there’s no getting around the fact that the company, which makes collaboration software, is acting as a willing accomplice in the formation of the surveillance society we should all fear. [Jeroen Bekkers’ Groove weblog]

Search Google, me or my friends!

Search Tool Added Through Lilia Efimova …. Search Tool Added
Through Lilia Efimova I found Micah Alpern’s microblogosphere search tool (go see Micah’s weblog).

As a search tool to search my own blog, and the ones I read, was something I already had on my wishlist of improvements for my blog, I’ve imeddiately added it on the left hand side, directly below the blogroll.

Great work Micah! [Ton’s Interdependent thoughts]

Very cool stuff. Check out my home page to see the resulting search box to see it in action.
You can now from one place search Google, my blog (a Google search limited to my site) or a blog search that searches across all sites whose RSS feeds I read. (Note: you’ll need a Google API key to make this work on your own site; visit the Google API site for more info.) This is incredibly valuable – and just one more step down the path to the semantic web.

The end result? You can now run searches that effectively say – “show my everything about topic (X) that my community has said”.


NY Times on NYC Meetup with Governor Dean

Here’s a great report by Lisa Napoli about the resounding success of the NYC rally for Governor Dean last week. Most interesting is the fact that the Dean campaign has partnered with – paying the company a fee in exchange for access to the e-mail list of declared Dean supporters. The result? A low-cost grassroots organizational platform – with potentially huge dividends.

The NY Times points out that it is unheard of in political circles for a rally numbering in the hundreds to materialize without any assistance from the campaign. Other candidates are not experiencing the same groundswell (yet) – which bodes well for the Governor’s campaign.

In other news: updated the blogroll to the right, adding myDD, noho-missives and Carl with a K. All three are pro-Dean weblogs with a political bent. Let me know who else is out there!

Save time: read the dissent

Ernie shares a piece of advice that would have saved a year of my law school education:

But, here’s a tip for you efficiency seeking law-students that I wish someone had told me about sooner.  If you want to figure out quickly what the point of the majority opinion is read the dissent.  They’ve got to point out quickly what the holding of the court is so that they can get on with the bloviating about how their point is actually better reasoned.  So read the first part of the dissent, skip the bloviating, and then scan the majority opinion to see what the dissent left out, or distorted. [Ernie the Attorney]

Take that one to the bank. Unless of course the case is Bush v. Gore, in which case absolutely nothing about the opinion ( dissenting or otherwise) makes a whole hell of a lot of sense.

Geeks and Geezers

While traveling yesterday I managed to finally read a copy of Geeks & Geezers that I’d checked out of our library. To say that this is a transforming book would be an understatement – it is the clearest, most insightful book on leadership I’ve read in at least a couple years.

The authors look at two groups of leaders – the under 35 crowd and the over 70 crowd. In each case, the authors identify the era in which the leaders came of age, and analyze what characteristics define leadership for the two groups. There are some striking similarities – a constant desire to learn, enthusiasm for new challenges, and what Bennis and Thomas identify as “adaptive capacity” – the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and excel.

But there are some differences as well. Geeks – defined as young leaders who understand technology but are not necessarily themselves techies – expect to change the world and are not patient waiting for opportunities to present themselves. Geezers at the same age were building a career and were looking for stability. Loyalty to an employer was expected, and rewards came after long hard work. Geeks prize balance while geezers expected to make sacrifice when it came to family and having “a life” outside of work.

The book is a quick read, and is highly recommended. Had the book been my own copy (I will be buying my own copy shortly ), I’d have marked up every other page. If you’re interested in leadership and the direction leadership will take over the next few years, I would strongly urge you to pick up a copy.

There is an accompanying web site that lets you listen to some of the original interviews with the book’s subjects. Of course, I’d prefer a blog from the authors to see what they have to say since the book’s publication, but that might be asking too much…

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Pardon me, but do you have...

… wireless access?

This was the question I asked at three separate Information kiosks here in the Pittsburgh airport. One woman, bless her heart, explained to me that if I had a laptop I could take it to the “phone with the keyboard” and use the Internet access there. I must have looked puzzled, because she went on to explain, “You just plug your computer into that computer.”

So much for wireless.

At the next two kiosks, much of the same. Two of the three recommended I try Staples (yes, this airport has a Staples, a post office, countless mall stores and food courts) – they let you pay $5 for 15 minutes of dial up access. Riiiiiiight.

I had already missed my flight, and was not looking forward to three hours of dial-up connectivity, when I opened my laptop and started fishing through my briefcase for a phone cord. That’s when I got the “t-mobile strength: good” pop-up on my taskbar. Good service – they just need to work on evangelizing their existence to airport employees.

Nevertheless, I’m enjoying my fast connection. (According to, I’m at 1.1 megabits up and down. Sweet.)

tins gets Inc!

Add this to the list of “why blogs matter”. Back in January, Brobeck dissolved. For those that didn’t follow it at the time, it was a Big Deal. (At least, if you’re interested in the legal market.) In any event, I blogged my thoughts about the situation here, and had some follow-up comments on the entire ordeal. Mostly, I was frustrated that the conventional coverage (NY Times, Slate, SF Examiner) seemed to miss the point entirely.

Two weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Bob Cringely. He does a monthly column for Inc. magazine, and he was writing about what happens to the clients when law firms dissolve. He searched for information about Brobeck’s dissolution, and at the time my blog was the #1 search result at Google (it’s now #4). He was interested in what I had to say, and the next day we chatted by phone for about 20 minutes. End result – his column in the May issue of Inc. includes three or four quotes from me about the state of the legal market, and the risk of dissolution generally. (I’ll withold my comments until the article actually runs; I think there’s some important “back story” that will help explain a few of my comments.) This is, needless to say, great exposure.

Here’s the funny part – Cringely was on a list our PR firm had generated a couple weeks ago as someone we should pitch to for an upcoming media push we’re doing. In fact, the PR firm had already tried to contact him, but been ignored. (They later tried to claim that he contacted me because they’d proposed an article idea to him, but he had no idea they’d been in touch, and furthermore didn’t even know who I worked for at the time he called me.) I’m not saying PR firms aren’t useful – they are. But this is a perfect case study for the value of triangulating – in this case, I just threw a few opinions out into the ether.

Six weeks later, I got in Inc. magazine.

Yeah, I’d say this is going mainstream.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Goal management

Companies are using software to help their employees set and meet individual and business goals
By Mary Hayes

This June, 15,000 employees at Seagate Technology LLC will receive annual performance reviews that for the first time heavily weigh how close each individual comes to achieving his or her professional goals. The disk-drive maker asked its professional workforce to consider CEO Steve Luczo’s top five goals for the company before submitting their own. The resulting personal targets, all 56,000 of them, can be viewed online by any employee in the company… [full article]

An interesting read from this week’s Information Week. At my company, we’re goal-oriented and those goals make up a significant piece of our annual and mid-year reviews. They weigh heavily on our bonus, and I’d say on the whole it goes a long way to establishing a system where everyone feels like they have input to their own objectives.

What we don’t do is publish everyone else’s goals so that they’re reviewable by anyone in the company. I’ll have to look into that.

But what did you do wrong?

Come On, Share Your Mistakes. During last year’s Energy Law Institute, Christian E. Liipfert, Managing Attorney, Special Projects and Transactions, at BP America Inc., presented his paper “Knowledge Management within a Multi-location, Multi-discipline Legal Function.” As in-house counsel, Mr. Liipfert knows all too well the problems inherent in managing knowledge among lawyers within a multinational corporation like BP.

One of Liipfert’s most important points is the importance of not only making mistakes, but also sharing mistakes with colleagues. Knowledge sharing is successful when partners point out the “mistakes” of inexperienced associates. Difficulty arises, however, when a partnership hires lateral partners. In this situation, a newly hired lateral partner will be less receptive to hearing an existing partner point out his mistakes. [excited utterances]

Before commenting, let me just say that Joy is on a roll. Not sure who her sources are, but she is consistently finding better links to critical scholarship on KM in services firms than I’ve seen anywhere else. Hope she’s getting paid well at her new gig…

Anyway, I had a real-word example of this last month. I’m in the process of finishing my basement. (For those that know me: yes, this is, um, surprising. My family is a lot of things. Friendly with power tools was not one of those things.) I’ve never worked on a project of this scope – when completed, it will add about 700 square feet to our house.

Fortunately, a friend of mine is a contractor in town. He came over on a Saturday morning and took me to Home Depot. Showed me which supplies I’d need, helped me pick out the metal studs, track, etc. He lent me some tools, including the .22 caliber Remington nailgun for driving the track into the cement foundation – and then proceeded to teach me what I needed to know to get started. He showed me just enough to be self-sufficient. And I figure he saved me about three weeks of frustration in the process.

Because he shared with me mistakes he’d made throughout his experience, he was able to help me figure out how to develop my own style without having to make the same mistakes. My work was the better for it – all because I wasn’t afraid to make a mistake and because I knew which ones to avoid.

It seems to me that’s a basic element of successfully transferring knowledge.

New design

I changed the design of this site last night, so bear with some hiccups. A quick summary of the changes (this is as much for my own benefit as anything, so feel free to ignore):

  • I’m using a modified version of Bryan Bell’s “Candid Blue“ theme for Radio. Modifications include removal of the Radio calendar (most users tended not to rely on that as a navigation aid, so I ditched it), addition of my blogroll (using activeRenderer; I maintain the blogroll as an OPML outline in Radio), inclusion of the search engine box, and changes to the itemTemplate to include itemTitle and comments.

  • Moved from 3-column to 2-column layout. Not only does this leave more room on the page for the main content, but it renders the text readable on any number of browsers. For the first time, I can read my blog on my phone. (The comments even work, which shocked me.) The layout is extremely simple – I may tune it up at some point down the road, but overall this is the look I was going for.

  • Stopped using activeRenderer to “collapse” prior days on the home page; I’d decided that this wasn’t intuitive for people who don’t visit the site regularly. It just resulted in hiding prior content and making it harder to read.

  • CSS is now incorporated into the template pages, instead of being contained within a separate CSS file. This helps with presentation when I’m working offline.

  • Cleaned up my blogroll. Hadn’t updated it in at least six months, so I was able to delete some stale links, add some new ones and streamline the overall organization.

  • I recently added Stephen Downes’ referral script to my template. The result is that any incoming referrals are captured – in this way, visitors to the home page can see where other visitors have come from; presumably, these links would be potentially interesting to some readers.

  • Streamlined my liveTopics implementation, by moving away from multiple_words to “multiple words” now that lT supports multi-word topics.

For those reading this through e-mail or an aggregator, feel free to stop by the site and let me know what you think. As always, browser reports are welcome – if something doesn’t look right in your browser of choice, well, then just buy WinXP and use IE 6. (Or tell me what’s wrong. Either way works for me.)

Groove: Groupware or warware?

NYTMitchell D. Kapor, a personal computer industry software pioneer and a civil liberties activist, has resigned from the board of Groove Networks after learning that the company’s software was being used by the Pentagon as part of its development of a domestic surveillance system. [John Robb’s Radio Weblog]
I met Mitch Kapor when I was an intern at EFF 9 years ago. What strikes you about him is that he seems decent, smart and thoughtful. The spin from the NY Times article is that Kapor found out that Groove was being used at the Pentagon for Admiral Poindexter’s domestic surveillance system, and bailed from Groove’s board. Given Kapor’s background, this doesn’t seem unlikely.

Yet I can’t help but think that there’s more to the story. Specifically, Kapor has been involved in a high profile initiative dubbed Chandler, an open-source development that is intended to bring workgroup software to the masses. While it’s not really a competitor to Outlook, it would obviate the need for Outlook in many small and mid-sized businesses who want to leverage similar functionality without investing in the infrastructure necessary to run Exchange (the server that powers Outlook). I would be willing to bet on a bit of friction between the Microsoft people and Kapor.

Why does this matter? In October, 2001, Microsoft invested $51m for a 20% stake in Groove Networks. Earlier this month, Microsoft led another round of financing – resulting in another $38m pledged to Groove. (For those keeping score at home – Groove has raised a bubble-like total of $155m in venture capital in just over five years.) Indulge me in a bit of back-of-the-envelope calculation. At ~200 employees, Groove is probably in the $12m – $18m revenue range. (Could be as low as $10m, could be $20m+, but I’m guessing I’m in the ballpark.) Let’s assume that with this latest investment the valuation on Groove is around $275m. (I’m guessing that the total venture money represents around 60% of the company.) That means that Groove is valued at nearly 20 times revenues. In any event, Microsoft is not yet a majority shareholder but is presumably in the 40% range. Wouldn’t you like to know who the other major shareholders (other than Ozzie) are? Who sits on the board?

The far more interesting question for me: what are the implications of Microsoft being among the largest shareholders in a company that is providing domestic surveillance software to the Pentagon? And who raises this kind of bubble money in today’s economy?

Here’s my guess: Ray Ozzie has many relationships within the government, and Groove’s COO (Chuck Teubner) “began his career as a programmer, analyst and manager of application development for the Defense Department” and later held an executive management position with Martin Marietta. Microsoft has a few exemptions to their antitrust settlement with the DOJ dealing with national security. Whatever business plan is being shopped around to investors, I guarantee you that Groove is presented as a company with a growing lock on the burgeoning homeland security market. Groove as groupware may be interesting to the average user. Groove as warware appears to be terribly interesting to investors. And guess which constitutency will win? I think that is the lesson of Mitch Kapor’s departure.

Renewing Radio

Am I the only one out there who’s mildly annoyed at having to pay $39.95 to renew my copy of Radio, when I don’t use a single kilobyte of storage or consume any bandwidth whatsoever on Userland’s servers?

Seems like I’m subsidizing some of the more popular Radio weblogs out there since I publish my Radio site to (a domain I own and pay monthly costs for disk space and bandwidth).

Monday, March 10, 2003

Shock and Awe

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance. For better or worse, most of the online news and comments about the Pentagon’s planned strategy for Iraq are based on second and third-hand retellings of what “shock and awe” means and where it comes from. Which is odd, since you can find the entirety of Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance online. It was published in 1996 by the National Defense University in Washington, where selected officers and civilians from Defense, Justice, and elsewhere go for training. [Paul Boutin]

Sunday, March 9, 2003

Linklaters enhances Blue Flag

Linklaters Releases Term Sheet Generator. Linklaters announced a new automated document assembly system to its suite of Blue Flag client -facing online products. Developed by Linklaters’ international banking practice group, the Term Sheet Generator (TSG) “promises to reduce the time taken by bankers on syndicated lending desks to produce term sheets—from around two hours to about 30 minutes—while feeding them relevant legal advice for structuring deals.” [excited utterances]

“Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? It is the sound of inevitability…”

Higher Ground

Can We Occupy the High Ground?. … or shall we be a bully wearing blinders? Anna Quindlen puts it well in her Newsweek column:

What is required of a nation that is not only the greatest democracy on earth at this moment, but the nation by which all other democratic attempts have been measured, the petri dish of individual freedom? That answer is clear: it must live up to its principles, not down to its enemies. The danger in having enormous power is that the ambition to use it for good can so often be subverted by the temptation to use it for dominance. The leader who occupies the high ground, or the bully wearing blinders: I am waiting to see to which nation I belong. [istori/log]

TiVo wish lists

For any TiVo users out there, set up a wish list for “Howard Dean” in the “news” category. I set mine up about two weeks ago – it’s picked up every interview and media appearance since then. Yet another reason why TiVo makes TV watchable…

Howard Dean on Meet the Press

I’m watching Governor Dean on Meet the Press. Tim Russert is grilling him on his Iraq policy, and I think Russert has cornered the Governor on this point: the UN passed a resolution to tell Iraq that they have to be in full compliance with existing UN resolutions or they will face serious consequences. Well, by Blix’s own admission Iraq is not in full compliance. So shouldn’t we take action based on that?

Well, the Governor’s doing an OK job justifying his position, but I think he’s missing an opportunity to make a critical point: the reason we need to go through the UN on this war is that we need the United Nations. There are things we simply cannot accomplish as a nation-state. The United Nations should be critical to our long-term security by creating stability in regimes and regions where we have little if any creidiblity.

Instead, the Bush administration has rushed headlong into a crisis in which we are rendering the U.N. irrelevant. And without the U.N. our so-called Homeland Security is actually more critically harmed than if the U.N. were strengthened and Saddam stayed in power.

I think there’s a leadership characteristic at stake here. In Good to Great, James Collins writes about the difference between level 4 and level 5 leaders. The difference is that those who are what Collins refers to as “level 5” leaders are the ones who make those around him or her stronger.

Put into the foreign policy context, the role of an American president in this day should be to make other nation-states appear stronger. (Whether they are stronger is a less important issue.) The role of the U.N. can be one of empowerment – and if we become the backroom dealmaker in which other countries can appear to be the ones identifying solutions – then we are infinitely more secure than we are today. (And our strength emanates from our security and our alliances – instead of our military might. As 9/11 proved, military might does not equate security.)

To sum up – Governor Dean has proven he’s willing to take unpopular stances (see health care, civil unions, etc.). But he could come out in favor of explicitly strengthening the United Nations – and point out that doing so would actually increase our security and secure our sovereignty.

Comments are back...

I disabled comments a few months ago because I was getting tired of relying on third-party sites (YACCS and/or Radio Userland Comments server). But I’ve received a few e-mails recently asking me to turn them back on from readers who want to provide follow-up t owhat I’m writing about.

So, let the flood (uh, trickle) begin. :)

CRMs and Misdemeanors

I want my CRMTV. Cnet is reporting about a Gartner report on the little black cloud of failure over most CRM implementations … Hey guys CRM is tough. If you think of it for ten minutes after the sales pitch you’ll realize this. Yes it can work. But it’s not just software and it is not easy. [How do you know that?]

OK, let’s deconstruct the C|Net article to see what it’s really saying:

  • 42% of CRM licenses haven’t been installed.

Well, so what? While I’ll be the first to admit that there are firms who are struggling, whether they use our software or someone else’s, I don’t really see this as news. In many cases, the number of licenses bought is purely an economic decision. If I’m a buyer, I have two options (at least): (a) buy exactly the number of licenses that I need to use today, or (b) buy a larger number of licenses to allow for growth if the software’s a success.

In the case of (b), I’m going to get a deal. Every enterprise software vendor will provide volume discounts to anyone buying larger license blocks… which will naturally lead to some of those licenses being deployed later in the implementation (if at all). This isn’t a story.

  • Another reason for CRM failure is resistance to change among employees.

Well, sure, but Gartner’s been saying this for years. Indeed, most of the analyst firms have concluded that CRM failures are more likely a result of cultural and procedural obstacles than the technology failing. (This is why we’ve spent a couple years working on instituting workflow into the product to accommodate current cultural realities at services firms rather than try to change them.)

The real story that’s yet to be told: when will the stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap approach to traditional CRM (aka “Sales Force Automation”) be seen as the actual reason for CRM’s failure?

Saturday, March 8, 2003


What is Wiki?.
I am struggling to understand better. Here is a useful page. As I understand it, Wiki is a group editor with a “ Darwinian” power – crap will be edited out. Am I close?

Is this what Socialtext is about?

Ross if you see this I could do with some help – Rob

[Robert Paterson’s Radio Weblog]

I had lunch with Ross on Thursday, and need to better understand the wiki part of what they’re doing at Socialtext. I found this page which seems like a good place to get started…

Friday, March 7, 2003

The Treo

I’ve been on the road for ten days, and I’m just now spending a concentrated chunk of time on Starbucks’ wifi connection. Why? Because my Treo has kept me connected the entire time. This my first extended trip out of the office, and since I’ve been in meetings and conferences almost nonstop since last Wednesday, it was proving very difficult to check e-mail during the day.

I didn’t even open my laptop for the first four days of my trip.

If you own a Treo and you’re not using SnapperMail for e-mail, you don’t know what you’re missing.

MeetUp in NYC a huge success

Photos are available here; reports have over 500 people attending.

Read the entire report from one of the attendees here.

Howard Dean on Meet the Press - 3/9

According to the Dean2004 blog, Governor Dean will be on Meet the Press this Sunday. Let’s see how he does in round 2 with Mr. Russert…

Dean qualifies for matching funds

From the AP:

Former Vermont Gov. Dean said he has already met the requirement. He promised to make it an issue in the Democratic primaries if any of his rivals decide to skip public financing, as President Bush did en route to winning the Republican nomination in 2000.
“It will be a huge issue,’‘ Dean said. “I think most Democrats believe in campaign finance reform.’‘

Full story online here.

Show of hands...

I was a presenter during this week’s Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, and I chose to spoke about CRM (that’s what my company does) and weblogs ( that’s what I’m having fun with lately). Anyway, the audience was composed of about 350 law firm marketers and consultants, with firms from 10 lawyers all the way up to over 1000 lawyers.

When I started my presentation, I asked for a show of hands: “How many of you know what a weblog is?”

Over a quarter of the hands in the room went up.

Not bad.

Of course, now they all do.


More blog buddies

Every trip I’ve taken in the past eight months (and it’s been a lot), I’ve met at least one person face to face who I originally “met” through this blog. This trip was no different – yesterday I had lunch with Ross Mayfield, an extraordinarily smart guy who is doing interesting things with blogs at Socialtext. More on our conversations later – just trying to get caught up on the backlog right now…

And today I had coffee with Jonas Luster, one of the brains behind the Blawgistan Times and an interesting guy in his own right. Jonas has some, uh, interesting travels ahead of him. Stay safe, buddy – and keep in touch!

Wednesday, March 5, 2003


What to make of this?

Page reads since 10/7/2001:

72. Dog News: weird, inspiring dog tales
73. tins ::: Rick Klau’s weblog

A Mighty Wind

Is there any doubt that this will be the funniest movie out all year?

I can’t wait.

Come again?

Ernie writes in asking what I meant when I said:

  • Chandler’s goal: by 12/31/03, 80% of all outside counsel expenses will be non-billable hour work. Today that number is about 65%.

Sure enough, Ernie’s right. Makes sense only if you knew exactly what Mark said. So let me try again. Chandler believes that by the end of this year, he will almost never pay law firms based on how many hours it took them to do something. He will aggressively pursue compensation models that are fixed fee (like they’ve done with patent applications), alternative fee arrangements, or other models where efficiency is rewarded and the firm is able to predict (and manage) costs.

This bodes well for how firms are being forced to explore different revenue models.

"Welcome. You've got spam."

AOL’s Top Lawyer Says Spam Is ‘Crisis’ for the Network.
MediaPost: Spam: Problem Without a Clear Solution

Despite last week’s widely discussed announcement of AOL’s success with new anti-Spam measures, the company’s general counsel Chuck Curran opened his remarks at DoubleClick’s Insight conference yesterday with, “Unfortunately, I’m here to report that AOL is facing a Spam crisis. The problem has intensified to a staggering level.”


Lawyers and who else?

A Look Back, A Look Ahead. Last year today, I was doing research for what would become an article on legal blogging. Ernie’s page was just a few days old. There were some other sites I hadn’t found yet, but not too many. When all was said and done and the article went to print, I had added six or so weblogs written by legal professionals to my blogroll and dubbed them “blawgs.” [Bag and Baggage]

Lots of retrospection going on, thanks to Ernie’s one year anniversary, the ABA story about blawgs, etc. I agree it’s been a fun year, but for me the more interesting angle to this is where are the other professional bloggers? How about investment bankers? Accountants? Consultants?

There are more than 200 lawyers and associated law-types (paralegals, law librarians). That’s a non-trivial number.

But where are the other professions? I’d be happy to be wrong, by the way. Tell me if there are pockets of these professionals out there.

Who knows Jack?

Great article in Slate identifying the failures of some of Jack Welch’s protogés. Moneybox editor Daniel Gross looks at Jeffrey Immelt at GE, Gary Wendt at Conseco, Paolo Fresco at Fiat, Robert Nardelli at Home Depot – and concludes that they haven’t exactly lit the world on fire.

More successful examples: Stephen Bennett has been successful at Intuit, and James McNerney has done well at 3M.


What to conclude? We shouldn’t lay the failures of the disciples directly at the feet of Welch. Yes, some of Welch’s core insights now seem somewhat dated. It doesn’t take a genius to know that energetic leadership, high standards, and rigor can improve any company. But Welch didn’t intend for his protégés simply to replicate GE in retailing or insurance. Blame the unimaginative CEOs themselves for not being more creative. They have been playing mediocre covers of Jack’s greatest hits. What GE needed is not necessarily what the companies the disciples took over needed. Plainly, Fresco’s efforts to emulate Welch’s ideas failed in the case of Fiat, and a hard-core Six Sigma practitioner may not be useful for Home Depot.

A judgment on the success of the former GE hands shouldn’t be made simply on how faithful they were to the Gospel According to Jack. Instead, it should be based on how judiciously they apply Welch’s lessons to their particular situations and how well they develop their own strategies. The test is not how well they can manage like Jack, but how well they can manage like themselves.

Another client demanding efficiency from their law firm

Microsoft’s law firm pushes lawyers to be more document efficient.
In late 1999 B. Gerald Johnson, Preston Gates’s managing partner, told his lawyers to start acting more like their clients: Inc. and Starbucks Corp. Just as those companies redefined their businesses, Johnson wanted to redefine the way his law firm practiced law. “We’ve represented transformational businesses,” he says. Now he wanted to be one.

Johnson set up a committee called “Work Smarter,” headed by IP partner Martin Smith, to search for the good ideas. It has taken awhile, but Preston Gates lawyers have created two tools that have made their lawyers work faster and their clients envious. One is a document search tool called Patterns, which helps manage litigation documents, and the other, called Structure, helps assemble documents in transactions. has the rest of the story, which explains how Preston Gates learned to tame the paper tiger.  More law firms are going to have to face the reality that dealing with paper is not efficient.  That’s because , as this story illustrates, efficient clients demand efficient lawyers.  And successful lawyers respond to their clients’ wishes.
[Ernie the Attorney]

Monday, March 3, 2003

Herring on a fork

The Death of Red Herring

Wow.  I’m in shock.  I was a reader back in ’93 long before the dot com era boom and this feels like a part of the industry has just disappeared.  No Red Herring now and Upside passed away some time ago.  Yikes.

Red Herring, the magazine considered a must-read among the technology elite, has closed its doors, the latest victim of tough economic times.

RHC Media Inc. reached the decision after unsuccessfully trying to sell Red Herring, Chris Dobbrow, RHC Media’s chief executive officer, said Friday.

Red Herring’s March issue, delivered to subscribers two weeks ago, turned out to be the magazine’s final issue. It had a circulation of about 275,000. Go

[The FuzzyBlog!]

Given my last post, this shouldn’t be all that surprising to me. All the same, it’s just shocking how different the Valley looks and feels these days.

Billboards on the 101 at low tide...

My wife and I moved to the Bay Area in 1999, while the bubble was growing. We lived less than a mile from the 101, the highway that cuts through San Jose and goes up through San Francisco. Driving the 101 for the first time was a lot like the first time I got to Yankee stadium as a kid. (I was a Yankee fan at the time. I’m sorry. Fortunately, I’m over it.)

Anyway, it was overwhelming. Being in the technology corridor was a powerful feeling – and every quarter mile there was another billion dollar company’s headquarters or a billboard for the new new thing. In fact, there was only one obvious conclusion to draw based on the 101: technology wasn’t just the heart of Silicon Valley, it was all that mattered.

Well, what a difference two years makes. We had dinner with friends in Mountain View last night, and drove back up to SF on the 101. Nevermind that almost every building has another logo on it, but the billboards were what was really shocking. Gone were the arrogant billboards that proclaimed world dominance in some niche industry you’d never heard of, the breathless announcements about some new product or company you couldn’t live without. Nope, the billboards on the 101 from San Jose north are now:

  • Lamont and Tonelli on 107.7

  • Hillside Shopping Mall

  • Baume and Mercier watches

  • Tide laundry detergent

Tide? TIDE? Good Lord. Even 294 out of O’Hare has a couple of token Microsoft billboards. Has it really gotten that bad? I didn’t see a single Bay Area software company on a billboard on the 20 miles of the 101 we drove. One for IBM, one for another hardware company.

Sidenote – when I left in early 2001, a billboard cost $75k for a month on the 101. Ours was just north of 92 on the 101, heading north. Anyone know what a billboard on the 101 costs these days? Somehow, I doubt Tide is paying anywhere near that …

"Get my MoFo lawyer on the phone!"

If you haven’t seen Jay Leno’s video clip from last week where he dissed Morrison & Foerster, it’s pretty funny. For those that don’t know, Morrison & Foerster goes by their nickname, MoFo. (Yes, they know what it means. And they like it.) And Leno, during his “Headlines” bit, made fun of the, uh, disconnect between what most people think of lawyers and lawyers actually admitting it.

As a humorous sidenote, I caught up with Jo, MoFo’s CIO (I promise this isn’t the start of a bad rhyming joke). Turns out that MoFo’s mail server nearly crashed last week because so many friends of the firm were e-mailing the video clip to their friends at MoFo.

I won’t be surprised if MoFo puts the video clip up themselves.

(Talk about great free publicity!)

CIO Forum update

Spoke at the CIO forum last week in San Francisco, and found two presentations particularly interesting. Matt Kesner, CIO at Fenwick and West, spoke about TCO “religion” and the failure of most CIOs who look at costs instead of benefits. He’s an engaging speaker and clearly understands how to evaluate and prioritize technology initiatives within a firm.

The afternoon panel was about clients’ expectations of their law firms when it comes to technology. Mark Chandler, Cisco’s General Counsel, spoke about how he’s changed the model between Cisco and its outside counsel fairly dramatically. (A couple of my comments from this time last year, when Chandler was promoted to GC.) Here are some interesting points from his presentation:

  • He divides his legal work into four quadrants by looking at two criteria: core work vs. context work, and mission critical or non-mission critical. Into each quadrant are certain technologies he tries to leverage:

    • Mission critical, context: litigation, reputation cases, compliance. Matter management, discovery management and e- learning are all critical tech components here.

    • Mission critical, core: Business development, and the designing, building and selling of Cisco technology. Contract management and patent management databases are critical here.

    • Non-Mission Critical, Context: HR cases. Law firm-provided databases (for easy answering of basic questions) are a huge win for them – allows for self-service by any Cisco employee.

    • Non-Mission Critical, Core: Transactional work. Contract management, NDA management, clickwrap systems, and a document management system are all used to support these systems.

  • Cisco now requires all outside law firms to provide training (where appropriate) for Cisco employees on the area of expertise covered by the law firm. If you can’t provide that training electronically, you’re going to be severely handicapped competing for their business.

  • All patent work is now flat-rate: $9,000 per patent application. Cisco employs just two patent lawyers internally; they manage 600 patent applications each year (about 10 outside law firms share this business). [FYI: That’s $5.4m in patent applications.]

  • Chandler’s team figured out that the majority of their cost was in document review during discovery; one of Chandler’s employees streamlined the document review process by automatically identifying duplicate documents. The end result was that they saved over $20m in costs by eliminating much of the redundnancy suppression – and were able to focus the outside law firms on more strategic work.

  • Chandler’s goal: by 12/31/03, 80% of all outside counsel expenses will be non-billable hour work. Today that number is about 65%.

Final quote: “Technology is absolutely the only way firms will stay efficient and effective. Those who don’t use it well won’t survive.”

Most interesting to me – Chandler has effectively linked his outside counsel strategy to Cisco’s core operating philosophy. He identified Cisco’s goal: to be faster than the competition. This requires commoditization of anything that’s routine so that they can focus on higher value work. To that end, they require their law firms to automate as much as possible.

More updates

Many thanks for all the e-mails coming in with links to recent news and video appearances. (The press and video pages are both now updated.) I’m on the road all week, and opportunities to get to the computer have been few and far between.

Keep the e-mails coming, and updates will pick up again towards the end of the week.