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Revenge is Tweet

We have it on no less an authority than The Wall Street Journal that Twitter is now mainstream. But it seems that some lawyers want even more proof than a proclamation from the WSJ. And their reluctance to jump on the microblogging bandwagon is bringing the legal blogosphere to the verge of a good old-fashioned flame war.

Self-anointed curmudgeon David Giacalone kicked off the debate this weekend. Spurred by a Lawyers USA article, Attorneys Flocking to Twitter for Marketing, Giacalone referred back to a year-old Time magazine piece that called Twitter a way of "simply killing time." He wrote on his blog f/k/a ... :

"If you think that constant marketing or attracting blawg visitors is at the core of your law practice (or your cyber-business), joining the Twitter revolution might make sense, as you follow dozens, scores, or maybe hundreds of other Tweeters throughout the day or hope they follow you.  But, I sure hope you’re not my lawyer (or my employee), adding yet another wave of cyber-distractions to your workday, instead of focusing on efficiently providing quality services.  For us, maintaining multiple levels of unessential multitasking is not a virtue."

That drew a somewhat vituperative response from blog evangelist Kevin O'Keefe, who wrote both in a comment to Giacalone's post and on his blog, Real Lawyers Have Blogs:

"But hey, hang to your prejudices, ignorance, and a year old article in Time magazine as reasons to tell lawyers that Twitter is not worthwhile.

"Sorry to be so blunt, but Twitter is adding a lot to many lawyers' lives. Twitter is not something to be dismissed by lawyers who are not giving Twitter a fair try."

Predictably, others around the blogosphere have weighed in with their own opinions about Twitter. Notable among them is Scott H. Greenfield, who at least tried Twitter (for a week) before condemning it in a post at his blog, Simple Justice. But before getting to Twitter, he starts with a comment about O'Keefe:

"Before delving into my experience, note that Kevin is the main twitter cheerleader that comes across my twitter screen.  He's like the energizer bunny of twitter, and uses it in pretty much the exact way that he promotes it to others.  He posts regularly, and its almost invariably about a new Lexblog client coming online, or a new post on Real Lawyers Have Blogs.  He markets. And markets and markets. Then he twits (tweets?) about marketing successes, large and small.  Kevin walks the walk as well as twits the twit."

As for Twitter, Greenfield goes on to say:

"Twitter is what Kevin says it is, and it's also what David fears it is.  It's a disconnected, never-ending stream of consciousness series of one-liners that may, or may not, add or detract to your day.  My guess is that it's a lifeline for lawyers who really want a water-cooler but don't have one.  But it's not exactly fulfilling, in that there's no assurance that you get any real or timely reaction to anything you twit. ...

"Is this worth the time it sucks out of your day, particularly when added to the time checking RSS feeds, blog posts and links, news stories, emails and anything else that comes across one's computer?  Not really.  If I'm busy, twitter is the first thing to go, providing the least benefit of all the myriad forms of hi-tech communications.  Way too many tweets of way too little value and interest."

Excerpts here fail to do justice to his entire post. He ends on more or less of a conciliatory note, writing, "David's not Kevin's enemy.  Nor am I.  Kevin, and twitter, will have to pass muster with the thousands of others who will either care or not.  We're just two old lawyers."

This week's Blawg Review #186 has more on on these "Twitter Wars." As for the undersigned, I come down on the side of the proponents. In fact, the December issue of Law Technology News will have an article I wrote in which I describe 16 ways lawyers can use Twitter in their practices. And just since submitting that piece, I've thought of several more ways. The fact is, like so many other technology tools, Twitter is what you make of it. Can it be a distraction? Absolutely, but you can manage that. Can there be a lot of noise? Sure, but, again, you can manage that by being selective about whom you choose to follow. It is not "just" a marketing tool, as both Giacalone and Greenfield seem to believe. In my article, I talk about using Twitter for knowledge management, competitive intelligence and current awareness, to name just a few. No single technology is the be-all and end-all. But Twitter is a tool I'm glad to add to my chest.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 17, 2008 at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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