Ah, the end of the year, and it’s time to nominate my favourite law blogs for a Clawbie. But before I do, a few musings on the writing form of blogging. Has it become passé? I know I have posted much less this year than normal years, fearing I have nothing left to say. And yet others, like Erik Magraken, continue to put out worthwhile content including adding new media like video.
Well, I still read blogs even if I don’t write. What’s recently come to my attention is Marie Grace Cannon’s blog. While not specifically legal, it is described as “a personal blog by a new professional in the legal library and information world”. It’s also based in the U.K., so when she blogs about conferences, such as the BIALL conference, I get a perspective and information I wouldn’t get here.
Another one of my favourites, and a runner-up last year, is On Firmer Ground, a collaboration of authors from a global cornucopia of law library associations. Every post leaves me thinking either “I should do that too”, or “that’s really valuable to know”.
While not a blog per se (ooh, I just had to throw in a legal term), I’d also like to nominate Eugene Meehan’s Supreme Advocacy e-Newsletter. I look forward to receiving this every Thursday. With superb commentary on the latest SCC decisions (with the occasional Eugene witticism thrown in to make sure we’re really reading it all) and the folksy charm of “The Last Word”, it makes for a “must-read” Thursday morning.
This has to be the first time I’ve actually got this out on time. Usually I see the announcement for nominations, think “I’ve got to write something about that”, and then wait until the day after nominations close to get mine in. Well, it’s never too late to change! Thanks to all those who continue to write content that I am happy to read, and keep me up to date on the latest legal information.
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Tags: Clawbies, Marketing
I am a digital teenager of sorts. I have had too many email accounts and remember Netscape. So John Gregory’s summary of Internet Voting Revisited resonated with me on a few levels. My knee jerk reaction was internet is good and democracy is good, so combine both and I am supporting internet voting right? Not so easy as I delved into it. Voting is an an anonymous transaction at one level after validating one’s identity. It is a different transaction than buying something as e-commerce transaction. This article highlights some internet voting issues. Also there have been some Canadian municipalities experimenting with internet voting with mixed results. Dean Smith of an electronic voting system company said flatly that he expected 5% voter turnout for an election. That is hardly an encouraging number given the cost and resources put into such a project. Maybe in the future there will be technological breakthroughs that will make internet voting a reality.
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Admittedly public legal education is a unknown territory for me as I worked in a law firm library. But being an information person, all areas that touch upon law interest me. Lois Gander of the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta describes it as:
Deeply rooted in the access to justice movement in Canada, public legal education plays a critical role in ensuring that our laws and legal processes serve the needs of everyone, not just a privileged few.
There is both an advocacy role for marginalized groups, as well as the aspect of dissemination of information to the lay person in order to navigate the legal system. The law affects us from birth to death, and hopefully you and I will always be on the right side of it. When I was born, my birth was registered with provincial Vital Statistics department as per the law. Then my parents got a birth certificate. But my mom does not have such a document as she was born in a different country with different laws. And there are many other mundane examples from there.
A shout out to Shaunna Mireau for connecting with the Centre for Public Legal Education in Alberta, and there is a current job posting for the Executive Director. In Saskatchewan, there are some general resources and teaching resources for elementary and high school students.
Just recently I talked about different landlord tenant situation in different provinces casually with a friend. My sense is that this is a huge and growing area as people come into conflict or just need help navigating the system. As an optimist, I wish the new Director in Alberta the best of luck. New beginnings are an exciting adventure.
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Some time ago I read this article, “How Reframing a Problem Unlocks Innovation“, an adapted excerpt written by Tina Seelig from her book, InGenius (HarperOne). I was struck by how relevant it was to libraries, and well, everything.
I’m always looking at ways to “reframe a problem”. I like the way she phrases that
Mastering the ability to reframe problems is an important tool for increasing your imagination.
I tend to think that I have no imagination, but it’s lurking there, underneath my fear of failure. Thinking of situations from the point of view of the other person is invaluable in getting to a solution. Getting outside your comfort zone is another way to achieve this.
One of the first steps in creating a marketing plan is to think about who you are trying to reach. What type of language do you want to use, what form of media? All of these depend on who your target market is. Working in a law library my clients are intelligent, but time challenged. They want to know right off the bat how something is going to help them do their work more efficiently. My job is to help them reframe from thinking that training is a waste of time into thinking that if they spend a half hour now, they’ll save a half hour every day.
How are you reframing the problem in your life or work?
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This month Ted Tjaden is leaving our library team. He is the National Director but he is so much more. He has inspired and mentored many librarians. His door is always open to talk about knowledge management or library trends to others.
My first experience with Ted was by reputation, when he was promoting his legal research book in Victoria in the 1990s. I was new to law libraries and the microcosm of law firms as well. A lot has changed since then but passion, enthusiasm, insight that Ted shares generously with others is still constant.
Ted was a practicing lawyer and a crackerjack legal researcher. He set a service standard at McMillan. He makes research fun and sometimes it’s a bit of a treasure hunt. He has faith that you can push yourself a bit harder and find that obscure article. You learn and grow as a result. You learn that pushing boundaries is scary, exciting, thrilling and you come out on the other side with new skills and strengths.
Also at this time I asked Ted to look back at highlights of how legal information and law libraries has changed in the past 6 years. Increasingly he sees an integrated approach with knowledge management, library research, records management, and e-discovery. It makes sense for a unified and coordinated approach in a large company, as it is all internal and external information that funnels into legal solutions. This umbrella approach may be known as information governance.
There has been an ongoing debate about achieving a balance between print and digital resources in legal information. In legal information industry, the huge changes expected have been slow in coming compared to other subject areas. At this stage there is not overwhelming adoption of digital resources, as pricing models have been slow to develop as attractive options. It would be interesting to take stock in another 5 years to see, if the balance between print and digital has shifted.
Another ongoing theme is the speed of technological change is fast, and likely even accelerated with new devices like iPads, tablets and smartphones. Technology change has led to higher expectations for service. The volumes of email has grown exponentially with professionals having challenges in storing, managing and retrieving emails. Thinking about how this change affects us broadly Ted recommended a book about how artificial intelligence will affect people in the future with Kurzwell’s book called The Singularity is Near. I brought up Present Shock by Rushkoff and how it is hopeful that we can unwind our digital lives to enjoy the present moment.
Lastly free legal information is improving as there is a growing open access to legal information movement. CanLII is moving beyond statutes and caselaw into commentary with ebooks. Continuing legal education seminars are a gold mine of current information for researchers. In Ontario Access CLE has opened up free access to articles 18 months and older. These are Canadian examples, but there are American groups in the open legal information movement tools like The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction.
Ultimately change is good as we both expand our abilities and our business opportunities. On a more personal level, it is hard to imagine that Ted and his incredible energy will not be around. We wish him the best in the next phase of his life.
- Brenda Wong
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Tags: Best practices
Computer security is something we don’t think about, when computers, tablets and smart phones are working smoothly. But things can easily spin out of control.
James Lee of TD Bank Group, Technology Risk and Control Governance spoke about information technology security to some Toronto law librarians. I was struck by the human variable or social engineering ways in which security can be breached. It can be as simple as shoulder surfers, with good eyesight, who can see what I am doing on my Ipad on a crowded bus.
My interest lies in improved smartphone security. James Lee reminded us about basics, like locking phones with a password. I know not to use public wifi for banking or other sensitive information. Some wifi networks still use WEP encyryption standard, which is older and has been superceded now.
As smart phones come with preloaded apps, the convenience is traded off with data privacy issues. I might be a urban professional, so I don’t mind sharing my shopping and other consumer habits with Google Maps as my data will be be lumped into Big Data and for Google’s commercial enterprise. The compromise is worth my sharing the data then.
Lee has noticed that the Globe and Mail uses bitly for shortening URLs, so their articles will be an easier link to share. But Lee issued a strong warning that major banks wouldn’t send links using bitly link as security is not strong enough.
At home, the best laptop security involves setting up profiles for each family member, plus an administrator as a user profile. So if a situation arises, where the laptop is compromised by a hacker then individual users would have less rights than the administrator. Then less damage would result if there was a compromised user instead of a user with full administrative rights.
There is so many portable and convenient ways to store information now. But the proliferation of SIM cards, SD cards and flash drives also means they should be treated as valuable things. and one should protect them. SIM cards can be password protected too.
Finally I threw out a case of saving documents to Dropbox with 2 step authentication for password procedure. Was it a good idea or not? James Lee gave a nuanced answer in which the documents were not sensitive, then he would be satisfied with the security level at Dropbox. But if the documents included sensitive business information, then the assessment changes as Dropbox is cloud service with some risks involved. Potentially there could be problems with Dropbox’s U.S. servers falling under the jurisdiction of the Patriot Act and Dropbox management could be in a situation to release the sensitive business documents to third parties.
Ultimately James Lee stressed the need to strive for balance as we want usable technology and not technology that is so locked down that it is not being utilized. Lee believes some situations require top levels of security. In big companies, the guests are vetted at reception. Once they are past the gatekeepers, then they can plug and play in open wifi environment in meeting rooms. If guests were asked to sign in with passwords, it would off putting and increase hassles. To my mind, having open wifi with vetted guests would be an acceptable level of security.
Thanks to Toronto Association of Law Libraries organizing the talk and Goodmans for hosting the event.
- Brenda Wong
Educate yourself on digital rights issues
Lots of good information about avoiding online scams and protecting children
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