My old pal, Kevin O’Keefe, built a business around the blawgosphere during its heyday called LexBlog. He worked hard at it, and pushed lawyers to see the virtues of blawging, a word reflecting the intersection of law and blogging which enjoyed some serious interest for a brief and wonderful time. That time is largely past, and I remain one of the few lawyers who have yet to realize that I should hang up my blog and move on.
But Kevin’s still at it. There are, somewhere out there floating in the mist, thousands of law blogs. You won’t know they exist, as they’re mostly marketing tools, quickly abandoned when lawyers come to the realization that they don’t bring them fabulous fame and wealth. Writing takes effort and desire. Most people just don’t have the chops or interest in doing it. Some suck at it. Some aren’t nearly as fascinating as they think they are.
And then there are the alternatives, twitter, facebook, snapchat, which requires no intelligence and takes no effort. Twitter was initially touted as “microblogging,” which was ridiculous but reflected our willingness to forego thought in favor of ease. Ease won by a landslide.
So what’s to be done when your business is based on a moribund concept like blogging?
Every company talks about being real, open and authentic and nobody does it it, my company, LexBlog included.
Being real, open and authentic requires a company letting the outside world know what makes the company tick, what they’re working on, what they’re learning, what they’re struggling with and so much more.
This message, communication and engagement obviously has to come from the company’s team members – its employees. It sure can’t come from marketing, communications and PR – that would be lipstick in this situation.
Being “authentic” has been a problem for LexBlog since the beginning. Lawyers would pay a pretty penny to have Kevin’s gang create their bespoke blog, and then waste it all by posting insipid marketing crap that no one would ever read. It was uninteresting. It was uninformative. It was just shit thrown against a wall as if random letters on a screen was all it took to become a blogging god. After a while, when lawyers realized their ROI was in the red, they would buy content from Bangalore or walk away.
In an effort to reinvigorate the platform, Kevin is borrowing from some old-time gurus, names most of you won’t recognize as their cool, cutting-edge thoughts are now endearing only to grandma.
The inspiration for donuts comes from blogging – as it was and still is – a conversation. Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) and Shel Israel (@shelisrael) authored the book, Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, eleven years ago.
Donuts? That’s Kevin’s new idea. It’s the LexBlog version of what he urges the rest of us to do.
A blog works best as it enables a company to capture this historical “team diary,” enables indexing on Google for shared research, easy subscription via RSS and email and social sharing by the team and the public across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
So a blog it is for LexBlog – donuts.lexblog.com. Everyone of my teammates will have the capability of openly sharing what they’re working on. Tech, editorial, products, sales, support/success, operations and accounting, all are in.
Lead by example. Show, don’t tell. But why “donuts”?
Why donuts? We love donuts so much, that we name all of our products after our favorites.
I love donuts, too. Particularly the maple bacon donuts from Voodoo. But I also know that donuts can be too sugary, too sweet, too cloying, as in Krispy Kremes. Being real isn’t necessarily tasting good. Not everyone is going to enjoy your flavor, your thoughts, your taste. And Kevin, who understands as well as I do that a lawyer can just as easily destroy himself online as win the applause of the crowd, tries to remind people to temper their authenticity with being “smart.”
No one is going to question each other for sharing too much. God knows, I am open as all get out about what LexBlog is working, what I’m excited about and where we’re challenged – on the road and, when I make the time, online. Let “being smart” be your guide.
That’s the rub. You can be real or you can be smart. If smart happens to align with real, then you’re one of the fortunate few, but you can’t force both to happen at the same time if they’re not naturally aligned. And much as I hate to be the mean curmudgeon (not really), not all lawyers are all that smart. In fact, some are dumber than dirt, and many are disingenuous about it.
Some years ago, I praised the criminal law blawgosphere for being more vital, more real, than any other legal niche. My blawgroll was filled with real lawyers talking about real law stuff. I was proud to be part of this crew. They’re mostly gone now, with the occasional post here and there, but nothing consistent. Some have grown bored. Some have suffered personal setbacks. Some have gone SJW. Some have turned out to be psychologically unstable, intellectually dishonest, or worse.
And through this, I’ve kept plugging away at this, whether anybody comes to read it or not. I’ve been real whether I wanted to or not, because I didn’t know how to be otherwise. I pissed off many people in the process, but I always understood that would be the case and, frankly, don’t care. As Popeye said, “I ams what I ams.” No one makes anybody read SJ. You think I suck? So what?
I hope Kevin’s on to something. I suspect people will tire of cute and insipid quips and will return to the days when actual thought and illuminating commentary were available online. It’s time for a fourth wave of blogging where real lawyers write about real stuff for real. But it won’t be all donuts. You can only take so much sickly sweetness.