Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A "Computer" Was Originally a Job Title: The History of Computing Timeline

Today CNN posted a Timeline for Computing Power.  Being a librarian and a blogger on information issues, I collect timelines related to all aspects of information history.  Last week I attended a meeting where someone said that the Internet will double every 11 months. What have we wrought with these computers?

The best thing about the CNNs timeline is the photo of the original Apple Computer which sold for $666.66.

The Original Apple Computer
 A "Computer" Was Originally a Job Title

But I do have a few quibbles with the timeline. It dates the history of computing to only 1946. In fact, the first use of the word "computer" dates to the 1640's and referred to a human being who performed calculations. These human generated calculations would be compiled in to navigation tables or interest rate tables.

How Did They Overlook Charles Babbage?

My big beef is with the omission of Charles Babbage who developed  the Difference Engine  in 1822.  It was capable of computing several sets of numbers and producing a hard copy of the results. In 1837 Babbage proposed an Analytical Engine, a hand cranked, mechanical digital computer which anticipated virtually every aspect of present day computers. It was almost 100 years until another all purpose computer was conceived. According to James Gleik's book, The Information, Babbage was inspired by the Jaquard fabric loom,invented in 1804 and which used punched cards to design the fabric patterns. 

A Demonstration of the Difference Engine

Although Baggage never completed building the Difference Engine in his lifetime, a team of engineers using his design notes built an identical engine which was completed in March 2008. It is on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Reference Librarians Vs The Machine

The CNN timeline ends in 2011 with IBM's Watson becoming the first non-human winner of Jeopardy. Reference Librarian's take heart. According the Google's CTO Craig Silverstein, it will be  about 300 years before Google can understand emotions and non-factual information and replace human reference librarians!  So we have some job security at least for a few more centuries. But coming full circle, if the word computer was derived from the ability to compute algorithms, will the future Artificial Intelligence machine be referred to as a "researcher?" And will some future generation ever be amazed that there were people who once  performed that task, using their own brains?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

ALM Rachets Up Their Competitive Intelligence Game With Acquistion of RivalEdge: Listening Platforms Today.. Predicting Platforms Tomorrow?

Competitive Intelligence is hot and the competition among vendors of CI monitoring services keeps getting hotter. Today American Lawyer Media  announced that they had acquired Rivaledge, which currently produces FirmWatch and LateralWatch. ALM becomes the newest entrant into the legal "listening platform" wars.

Your Bottom Line

RivalEdge will be part of ALM Legal Intelligence, the unit of American Lawyer Media  which produces the annual surveys such as the AmLaw 100 and other legal industry rankings and surveys. If you are currently a Legal Intelligence subscriber the RivalEdge products will require a separate subscription.

Is this New?

They claim that they will break new ground by reducing the number of email alerts, newsletters and tweets that lawyers receive. There are already quite a few products that are deployed in law firms which are already tackling this problem including Ozmosys, Info(N)Gen, Attensa, Manzama.  I also doubt that the clipping pioneers Westlaw and Lexis Nexis will stay on the sidelines forever. So the real question is....

Can they Do it Better Than the Established Rivals?

The most intriguing part of the press release is the reference to a proprietary taxonomy and concept map algorithms that RivalEdge has been building the past few years. It will be interesting to see if this innovative platform delivers a truly superior result compared to platforms already on the market.

Can Predictive Trending Be Far Behind?

The truth is that it is getting easier to know "what just happened." I think the real differentiator in the future will be the ability to detect emerging patters to tell you "what may be about to happen."  Especially in the area of litigation, bad news can be a predictor of litigation. I was recently reading that Google was able to predict the outbreak of the Flu Season before the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and now has a site called Flu Trends. In the same way shouldn't the monitoring of social media reflect a world of problems which could signal potential litigation arising from a wide swath of issues from investor complaints to product liability. Wouldn't firms want to follow negative trends involving existing and potential clients?
Make a client pitch in advance of the problem?

I look forward to seeing the the new ALM RivalEdge product offering and reporting back.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New BLaw CEO McCaffery Headed Toward the Business of Law Frontier

When Bloomberg acquired the Bureau of National Affairs in 2011, many legal information professionals wondered if this was simply another takeover that would obliterate the identity, the products and culture of yet another venerated  legal publisher.  Would Bloomberg Law crush the deep and well cultivated relationships that BNA had developed with law firms and law librarians over the years?

When the acquisition was first announced I highlighted the synergies between the two companies in a post entitled Bloomberg Gets BNA's Intellectual Capital in the Capitol., At the time, I asked whether Bloomberg would be able to retrain the deep pool of human talent and intellectual capital at BNA. I got the answer today. The short answer is "yes."

Bloomberg has repeatedly affirmed that they knew a good thing when the saw it.  They wasted no time in loading all of BNA content into the Blaw platform which became available to BLaw subscribers at no additional cost. They have maintained the integrity of BNA's newsletters and research platforms which continue to be available outside of Blaw.

Today, a press release from Bloomberg announced the retirement of Bloomberg Law CEO Larry Thompson, and the elevation of Greg McCaffery to replace him. Since McCaffery, is a 26 year BNA veteran and the most recently the BNA  President and CEO, this   affirms  that BNA  is seen as a valuable collaborator in the evolution of the Bloomberg Law platform.

The Missing Piece: The Business of Law

I was intrigued by Global Product Head Beth Mazzeo's comment  in the press release that in Greg's new role he will "focus on the next phase of expansion."

I contacted Greg and asked him if he could provide any insight into new content and strategy. On the content side  BLaw is planning to  release a Tax and Accounting Center in the fourth quarter. They will also supplement the traditional practice of law platform with new content which focuses on "the business of law."

The new strategic direction will focus on building portals to support law firm management. There is ample content on both the BNA and the Bloomberg side which can be leveraged and integrated toward this end. Business development tools  could leverage both BNA's "Convergence" monitoring tool and  Bloomberg's proprietary news and company data. A Human Resources portal  could leverage BNA's labor and HR content,  an accounting portal could leverage BNA's payroll, tax and accounting resources. A Business of Law Center would focus on the needs of firm Executive Committees and C-level leadership. Since firms have an insatiable interest in improving both the effectiveness of their management and their competitive position this seems like both a logical and a potentially winning strategy.

Bloomberg Bought More than Just Content

I asked Greg whether Bloomberg had succeeded in retaining most of the BNA staff following the merger. Greg explained how Bloomberg had focused  on retaining BNA's human intellectual capital. They have done this  by recognizing that Bloomberg and BNA had two unique cultures. Rather than merge the two organizations into a hybrid culture, they have attempted to preserve the two unique cultures. He described one strategy as "trading their assets back and forth." In keeping with this, Greg will essentially be leaving BNA and joining the Bloomberg organization. The one area that they have unified is the sales force which supports  the product lines for both organizations. All sales staff have been trained on both the Bloomberg and BNA products so that law firms only need one account executive for all Bloomberg and BNA products. "Amen" to that strategy!

Related Posts:
Welcome to More on Bloomberg Law: BNA Content Debuts on the BLaw Platform
Welcome to Bloomberg Law: No Deals, No Discounts, No Apology
Bloomberg Gets BNA's Intellectual Capital in the Capitol
Bloomberg Law Takes on the Titans

Monday, September 3, 2012

Nominations for the ABA Journal "Blawg 100" Due September 7th.

The ABA Journal is seeking nominations for the 2012 "Blawg 100" which recognizes the best legal blogs.

"Friend-of-the-blawg" briefs are due no later than Friday Sept. 7, 2012.

If you would like to nominate Dewey B Strategic or any other favorite law related  blogs, fill out the form at this link

About Blawg 100 Amici From ABA Journal Editor:

There is no specific criteria that a blawgger can meet to be guaranteed a spot on the Blawg 100. And we think our list would suffer if there were. A blawg’s whole can be greater than the sum of its parts, and a blawg that never fails to post that daily update, has a beautiful design and an unwavering topical focus can very often have less of an impact than another blawg that is less consistent on all fronts.

That said, please keep these criteria in mind when submitting Blawg 100 amici:

That said, please keep these criteria in mind when submitting Blawg 100 amici:

• We're primarily interested in blawgs in which the author is recognizable as someone working in a legal field or studying law in the vast majority of his or her posts.

• The blawg should be written with an audience of legal professionals or law students—rather than potential clients or potential law students—in mind.

• The majority of the blawg’s content should be unique to the blawg and not cross-posted or cut and pasted from other publications.

• We are not interested in blawgs that more or less exist to promote the author’s products and services.