Jump to Content | Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content | Jump to Navigation

Law Practice TODAY

The Strongest Links

Web 2.0

by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell

January 2006

Wherever you go on the Internet these days, you're bound to see it:  Web 2.0.  As if we still aren't getting used to Web 1.0!  In the classic Internet tradition, even though you might be reading about Web 2.0 for the first time, some pundits are already proclaiming that Web 2.0 is over and dead. Since Web 2.0 is both a concept and a set of applications, we suggest that there may be much more to learn about and benefit from this subject and reports of its death might be greatly exaggerated.

So what is this Web 2.0?  In short, it's a set of new technologies that is making the Internet more interactive for its users.  We're already discussing the Web 2.0 phenomenon in the December Roundtable (insert link here for roundtable); we thought we'd show you some of the best links to get you better acquainted with this new way of looking, and working, with the Web.

Wikipedia:  Web 2.0 -- sure, it has gotten some bad press lately, but the Wikipedia is still one of the first places we start when we want to learn more about something.  Not only will you find a good basic description of Web 2.0 technologies, you can also explore external sources like example sites or general coverage and commentary. Many people consider the Wikipedia a classic example of a Web 2.0 application.

What is Web 2.0? -- back in September, Tim O'Reilly wrote perhaps one of the best descriptions of Web 2.0.  To make it easy to understand, he describes the Web 2.0 versions of Web 1.0 sites -- for example, Britannica Online is an example of a Web 1.0 site, where Wikipedia is its Web 2.0 successor.  This is a must-read article for anyone wanting to learn more about the future of the Internet.

Web 2.0:  The Next Wave? (Free Registration Required) -- this article by John Tredennick of Caseshare gives a good background on Web 2.0 and what it may mean for the future of the practice of law.

Top 10 Web 2.0 Moments of 2005 -- According to the author, there were ten events this year that help to further Web 2.0 technologies. They include the new site Google Base and Yahoo's purchase of Flickr and del.icio.us (see below for more).

Wikilaw -- the mission of Wikilaw is to build the largest open-content legal resource in the world.  It's the product of two law school graduates from New York, but anyone with legal knowledge can contribute.   The wiki format allows anyone to edit any page, and theoretically the community of users keeps the content accurate and up-to-date.  There's not a lot there so far, so what are you waiting for?  Get writing!  In addition to providing Wiki-Treatises on various topics, the creators also hope to start Wiki-Case Briefs, a Wiki-Law Review, Wiki-Motions, and more.

WEX is Cornell’s effort to create a legal encyclopedia along the lines of Wikipedia, but with approved editors and contributors. It has attracted a lot of interest and may be the first legal Web 2.0 app to take off.

Del.icio.us -- one of the first social bookmarking tools, del.icio.us relied on a technology called "tagging" to organize your bookmarks.  When you find a site you want to save, don't use the Bookmark or Favorites feature of your browser; enter it at del.icio.us, and you'll have access to the bookmark on any computer that has access to the Internet.  Just label the site with a few descriptive tags, and you'll always be able to find it.  You can also create RSS feeds for any tag, so you can receive new sites on any topic from other del.icio.us users.  Only one thing I (Tom) don't like about this site, and that's the inability to make your bookmarks private -- I want the ability to keep my own stash of favorite sites, but in del.icio.us all your sites are open for anyone to see.

Yahoo! My Web -- I (Tom) like this bookmarking tool better than del.icio.us, for two reasons:  first, I can keep my bookmarks private, and then access them from any computer.  Second, it's a lot easier to search my bookmarks here.  Both of these sites are good bookmarking tools, and both of them make it ridiculously easy to add new sites.  If you use the Yahoo Toolbar, you can add sites to your My Web page with just the click of a button.  And del.icio.us has a bookmarklet that allows you to do the same with its service.

Word Processing Tools -- Writely, ZohoWriter -- we are writing this article using Writely, a terrific word processing site that allows you to collaborate on documents together over the Internet.  It is fairly full-featured utility, with just about everything you need to create a document.  When you're done, you can save your document in Word, OpenOffice, or as an RTF or PDF file.  There's an RSS feed for each document, and you can also make use of "tagging" to designate your documents.  Zoho Writer has most of the same features, but the form factor isn't quite as friendly.

Backpack -- Backpack is a virtual suite of productivity tools, and they're all free.  With your home page, you can keep notes, to-do lists, and write documents. For prices ranging from $5-$19/month, you can get more pages, reminders, and the ability to upload files and images.  Backpack is terrific for planning trips, work projects, collaborating on business matters, gathering information for a research project, keeping any type of list, organize any kind of event, and much more.

eHub -- Emily Chang's eHub blog is a great place to visit for the latest in Web 2.0 sites.  In fact, Emily describes the site as "a constantly updated list of web applications, services, resources, blogs or sites with a focus on next generation web (web 2.0), social software, blogging, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, location mapping, open source, folksonomy, design and digital media sharing."  Emily's a web and interactive designer in San Francisco, and it's clear she's on the cutting edge of this new technology.

CalendarHub -- there are many calendar sites online, but we think CalendarHub is one of the best.  You can import your calendar from Outlook, Yahoo mail, or other programs, or create your own calendar online.  Use the online calendars to create reminders, grow your business, keep track of deadlines, promote a club or organization, and just stay in touch in general.

Spreadsheets -- NumSum, JotSpot Tracker -- like word processing, spreadsheets are often a normal part of a lawyer's daily routine.  While neither of these sites will replace Excel and its over-abundance of features, they definitely help you collaborate or share information with others, in a spreadsheet format.  Of these two, we prefer NumSum, because it allows you to perform simple calculations; with JotSpot Tracker, you basically just cut and paste your spreadsheet online -- useful, but not very interactive. 

Voo2Do -- we've covered the word processing and spreadsheets, now it's time for the To-Do lists.  There are a number of good To Do list sites (see The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005, below), but Voo2Do seems to be the most advanced.  In addition to the basic to do functions, you can also segregate your tasks by project, keep notes, set and keep track of deadlines, and more.   You can even prioritize your tasks, and note the amount of time each task took to complete. Tasks can also be added by e-mail. I (Dennis) know a number of people who like the TaDa Lists for this purpose. The To-Do list apps illustrate the effectiveness of lightweight, highly-focused Web 2.0 apps.

Rollyo is a service that lets you create your own small search engine that runs only on the sites that you specify. When you find that Google or another search engine isn't helping you find what you want because it returns to many results or when you think that you saw something on one of a few possible sites, you can use Rollyo to create a highly-focused search engine. For example, Dennis created a legal technology search engine that searches his favorite legal tech sites .

Blummy is a new app that allows you to create your own set of your favorite Web 2.0 tools and turn them into a little drop-down menu in your browser. Very cool.

Kiva is a microlending site that Mitch Ratcliffe suggests might be the best Web 2.0 app yet, because of its potential social impact. From your desktop, you can become a micro-venture capitalist and make small loans to small businesses in developing countries.

The Best Web 2.0 Software of 2005 is the best single article listing useful Web 2.0 applications and ranking the best ones. It's a great starting point and Dion Hinchcliffe deserves a big thank you for this one.

The Wired GC on Law 2.0 - The Wired GC has become a thought leader in pushing the business thinking about Web 2.0 into the legal profession. His posts on Law 2.0 can be found at this link.

rethink(ip) and Rob Hyndman are two weblogs that frequently discuss Web 2.0 issues. You might also check the Web 2.0 category archives on the Between Lawyers blog for links and discussion of Web 2.0 topics.

Paul Kedrosky's Web 2.0 Presentation -- is a short, succinct PowerPoint with audio presentation that will introduce you to the basic business concepts that have emerged around the term "Web 2.0." He also analyzes some trends that we all would be wise to consider carefully.

Flickr -- in a short time, this site has developed a reputation as the best photo-sharing site on the Web.  It's very simple to upload your photos and display them in a virtual photo album, post them to your blog (if you have one), and share them (publicly or privately) with anyone.  Flickr also takes advantage of "tagging," so you can just type in a descriptive word -- " London," for example -- and you'll instantly see the public photos of every picture that has the " London" tag.  It's a great image search tool.

Read/Write/Web is where Richard McManus does a great job of covering Web 2.0 developments, including a weekly "best of Web 2.0" list. Note that he likes the technology behind Web 2.0, but, as his recent post called "Web 2.0 is Dead. R.I.P." suggests, he thinks the term "Web 2.0" might have outlived its usefulness.

Web 2.0 Conference - The 2005 Web 2.0 Conference sparked the current interest in Web 2.0. The conference site makes speaker materials and presentations available for downloading. Audio of the sessions will be available here.

The Rise and Rise of Web 2.0 - Matthew Hurst posted a chart that graphs the increase in mentions of Web 2.0 in 2005.

Five Reasons Why Web 2.0 Matters - Dion Hinchcliffe's article sets out in plain language some of the big picture elements of the Web 2.0 phenomenon and cuts through the hype.

Less as a competitive advantage: My 10 minutes at Web 2.0 - s Jason Fried is a Web 2.0 developer (BaseCamp and other tools). His remarks on the idea that "less is more" capture the ideas of Web 2.0 very well. Highly recommended.

Keep Up with Web 2.0 Developments -- want to keep up with the latest Web 2.0 sites? Just visit (or better yet, subscribe to) the Web 2.0 pages at Technorati and del.icio.us. Consider them an example of self-updating web tools.

Back to Top

About the Author

Dennis Kennedy is a technology lawyer, legal technology consultant, and well-known blogger based in St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author and frequent speaker, Dennis has written extensively on the technology of electronic discovery and co-authors the "Thinking E-Discovery" column at DiscoveryResources.org. His website and blog are well-regarded resources on legal technology and electronic discovery topics. He is a member of the Council of the ABA's Law Practice Management Section and the Webzine Board.   He podcasts with Tom Mighell about legal technology, with a focus on the Internet, in The Kennedy-Mighell Report.

About the Author

Tom Mighell is Senior Counsel and Litigation Technology Support Coordinator a Cowles & Thompson in Dallas.  He publishes the Internet legal research and technology weblog Inter Alia , and is the current Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2008.  He and Dennis Kennedy talk about legal technology, with a focus on the Internet, in The Kennedy-Mighell Report .