Here is another post about blogs but this one is different. First, a question for readers and second, some thoughts about knowledge management implications. 

Last week I met with librarians at a large law firm. They asked if I knew of any enterprise aggregator software. Aggregator software lets individuals automatically collect new posts from multiple blogs in a single interface. It also aggregates other “RSS” (Really Simple Syndication) content, which includes many sources, for example, major newspapers.

The aggregators I know are for individual use – are there any for the enterprise? With an enterprise edition, the library or other department could maintain some subscription lists centrally. If anyone knows of enterprise aggregator software, please let me know (here).

This question got me thinking about the potential benefits of enterprise aggregators. I envision folders centrally managed (firm-wide, by practice, or by opt-in) to present relevant blogs and ones individuals manage, some private and some partially or fully public within the firm. With this model, interesting KM possibilities emerge:

  • Lawyers can share subscription lists easily.
  • Subscription choices can be used, among other sources, to infer both lawyer expertise and interests.
  • Lawyers could nominate posts for firm- or practice-wide posting (to, say, a portal, with or without vetting).
  • Users can save posts of interest, either for private or broader re-use.
  • Firms could deliver valuable content more easily.

Delivery of other content seems particularly appealing. Many firms already invest heavily in update services and circulate these to lawyers, digitally or in print. In an RSS world with enterprise aggregator software, some of the challenges and overhead of this process would be easier.

And new opportunities could open up. For example, it might be possible to deliver alerts about new work product. Right now, in large firms, lawyers have no easy way to be aware of their colleagues’ new work product. Were new documents properly tagged (including RSS classification), notification would be automatic. Of course, most lawyers won’t tag work product but a tool such as RealPractice, which automatically identifies and classifies useful work product, might eventually also automatically RSS-tag. [Full disclosure: I recently formed an alliance with Practice Technologies, Inc., the developer of RealPractice; press release here.]

I am not certain about all the “moving parts” required to achieve these benefits but with Microsoft incorporating RSS in Longhorn (see Jeff Beard’s excellent explanation or the recent eWeek article), the infrastructure for this vision is fast emerging.

Comments anyone?