October 28, 2003

LawTech Guru Blog Is Netlawtools' MVP Site for October

Ah, the power of Movable Type TrackBacks, which is how I discovered the news. Thanks Jerry.

As a tribute to Jerry Lawson, and other early blawg visionaries who inspired me, I thought I'd pass along this anecdote and some personal observations on why blogging is breaking the rules of convention and is wildly succeeding:

For as long as I can remember, a Google search for Jeff Beard always returned and ranked the same-named Vice President of Business Development at Targus at #1. I always presumed it was because the Targus site was so heavily linked to, given that they sell so much tech-related gear. So his page on the site probably inherited Targus' status in Google's link-voting and ranking model. Thus it was one of my goals to see if I could stage a little Google "coup" and displace him someday. Not through any search engine trickery, mind you, but on merit (i.e., content) alone. Call it a personal challenge if you will.

Well, "someday" came much, much sooner than I ever expected. In the first week after going live with this blog, Google ranked me at #5 for the phrase Jeff Beard. Somewhere between 5 - 6 weeks, Google moved me up from #2 to #1, and moved him down to #2. I actually did nothing on a purely technological level to boost my rankings, other than to submit this site to Google and a handful of other search engines via the normal "submit" method. Socially speaking, however, now that's another matter altogether, which I'll come to in a minute. I don't know if the top position will be maintained or not, but it definitely and instantly convinced me about the sheer power of blogs, as this was most definitely an example of "disruptive technology" in action. No, in case you're wondering, it's not the ego thing (although I have to admit it's pretty cool) for why I mention this, but instead, it was the incredibly short period of time it took for the desired change to occur that impressed me.

This never would have happened if I set up a traditional web site -- how could a small web site of legal technology articles and tips compete with Targus in the search rankings? Instead, I have the pleasure to thank Jerry and several other visionaries for their influence upon my decision to blog. Between the ABA Techshow 2003 blog presentation by Tom Mighell and Sabrina Pacifici, Dennis Kennedy's and Jerry Lawson's great Internet Roundtable article series on LLRX, and Jerry's provocative article about Ernie The Attorney's blog link count, I was sold.

However, perhaps the most important thing I've learned since I've started blogging is this: When it comes to "web presence", compared with traditional web sites, blogging is not necessarily technologically superior, even with all the extra content management, trackback, and RSS feed bells and whistles. A number of web sites are using content management systems, talkback comments, forums, and RSS news feeds. Those are just the enablers, the means to an end in building the bridges. You can build all the bridges you want, but people won't travel them unless they want to or feel compelled to in some manner.

Thus the real revelation, at least to me, is that blogging is socially superior in effectiveness on the web, in terms of the reaction that it causes in other web presences, which in turn link to, feed, and reward the originating blogger for his or her contributions. Thus the blogosphere is a huge, special social and viral network, and that is what some traditional web users and designers are having difficulty understanding -- because that is not technical in nature at all, and they can't get their heads or hands around it.

For example, Jerry posted the MVP award on his blog, and his blog automatically pinged my blog. While Jerry hadn't e-mailed me, I found out about his post from my blog the next day (my blog also sends me e-mail notifications of comments and TrackBacks as well). Technological means? Okay, yes. But the result was social -- meaningful communication. Also consider Rick Klau's impressive and effective networking success with his political blog endeavors.

At least that's my take on it from today's perspective. Call it lessons learned about the human experience, if you will. We are indeed social creatures, and blogging just seems to break down a number of barriers and makes it easier to cross those bridges.

Topic(s):   Blogging Tips
Posted by Jeff Beard