Monitoring LexMonitor

There has been a fair amount of comment on LexMonitor, Lexblog’s law blog aggregation service in the last few days since its soft launch.

Aside from straightforward reports of its launch and what it is, there have been some who have been quick to trash it – either the whole concept or because of current failings. For example, in the first comment to the ABA Journal’s report of its launch:

Just what we need … another wholly unnecessary, unrequested fish-net trawling the oceans’ aggregation of blogs where the crap fish dominate and cover the real prize fish.

At the other end of the scale, there have been those like me and like-minded Steve Matthews and others who have enthusiastically congratulated Lexblog. It is not that we think Lexblog has got it right: there are certainly many criticisms one can level at its current implementation. But that misses the point. We see a guy (Kevin O’Keefe, president of Lexblog) who is passionate about the usefulness of blogs for the legal world and has built a very successful business around that, who has a keen grasp of the potential of the developing technologies for the legal profession and who (with editor Rob la Gutta) is not afraid to put his new project up there for us to knock down. For, though there has been pre-launch testing and feedback, that is not sufficient; only by exposing it to the masses will he find out if it might fly. And by garnering early feedback from all quarters, good and bad, he’ll be able to tweak it to perform more like what we want. That’s how things work on the internet.

The most considered review I’ve seen to date is from Scott Greenfield on Simple Justice. He’s highly critical critical of several aspects of the current service, in particular the inclusion of blogs that have no value:

I have a problem with the pipeline getting clogged with crap that will make people turn away from the blawgosphere because it appears to offer nothing useful and serves only self-promotion. This will harm businesses such as Kevin’s as well, and it’s in his interest to get his customers on track as well as produce content that serves a purpose. LexMonitor has the potential to do so, but doesn’t.

But – and this is an important but – he does go on to say in the comments “I meant the feedback constructively, and I’m glad you took it that way. I think your concept is good and helpful. Now let’s tune up the execution and you’ve really got something.”

So, let’s view LexMonitor for what it is – a work in progress. It may fly, it may not; but without innovators like Kevin and team we won’t get the legal web we want.

I’ll be reviewing it myself fully when I’ve had more time on it.

3 thoughts on “Monitoring LexMonitor

  1. You got it Nick. Innovation isn’t perfect, and websites need to get into production before you can truly know what you have. The tech industry gets this, but there are a lot of people in the legal industry that don’t; yet.

    Beta is still beta. Every new offering is going to come this way. A new fact of life…

  2. Nick:

    I think your point is well taken. When a site like this is launched it takes time to work out the kinks, and those being overly critical just aren’t aware of how complex applications like lexmonitor are.

    But, I think it is important to point out that Kevin himself isn’t always so understanding either. A few years ago our company tried to do something very similar to lexmonitor and was summarily bashed by Kevin.

    The similarities to our previous effort are stunning, yet Kevin has not addressed why he has had such a change of heart on most every single one of his positions from 2 1/2 years ago.

    I really think lexmonitor has potential, and I actually do wish Kevin luck. Consider this comment simply as on open question and a bit of sour grapes.

  3. Nick C:

    We’ve had a lot of discussion here on using feeds without permission in the last few posts on RSS and LexMonitor and it’s interesting to read the conversation back in Feb 2006 which I missed at the time.

    We’ll have to let Kevin speak for himself, explaining if he has had a change of heart or if he justifies it as a service more akin to Technorati etc (the argument he used then). One does have to draw the line somewhere and there seem to be widely differing views on where this should be.

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