“Pima County Jail Parking Lot” by John Levy, a photography category winner of the 2013 Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition

“Pima County Jail Parking Lot” by John Levy, a photography category winner of the 2013 Arizona Attorney Magazine Creative Arts Competition

Last fall, I wrote about the pleasure I take in Facebook’s then-new broad profile photo. I argued that it could especially be useful for businesses on that social media channel.

The question of whether to keep your message’s delivery unchanging and rock-solid, or to alter it in ways permitted by Facebook, is not an easy question. I pointed out that, as an editor on a monthly magazine, I like to visually feature a snapshot of each month’s cover story.

This is May, though, and I faced the dilemma of representing our arts competition winners. Last year, I decided to curate my own shot (see below). The result was a mass of art supplies surrounding our May issue. I still like it (though opinions may differ).

Arizona Attorney Facebook Screen shot May 2012

Arizona Attorney Facebook Screen shot May 2012

This year, though, I tried something else: featuring some of the great visual work that won our prizes.

Therefore, if you go to the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page this month, you will see that the broad cover image changes about six times throughout the month. Those changes give us the chance to display a variety of great work in the categories of photography and painting.

Our page is at http://www.facebook.com/ArizonaAttorneyMagazine

I just changed the image this morning, so it now displays John Levy’s photograph “Pima County Jail Parking Lot.”

To see all the photos, past, present and future, be sure to “Like” us on Facebook. And stop by our photos page to see what else we’ve shown.

About a month ago, I wrote about a workshop on social media I will help lead. Thank you to those who provided their general insights about the topic.

cool new facebook features

But now, in a week, is when the rubber hits the social media road. And so I’m asking for your insight again, specifically on the topic of new(-ish) and advanced Facebook features that you appreciate.

That is the topic for which I’ve been tasked at the National Association of Bar Executives, and I am trying to winnow down a list of Facebook fan page features that I think bar associations should consider and maybe adopt.

Here are a few of the features I appreciate on Facebook business pages. Have you used any of them on your personal Facebook page? And would they add to your experience of bar pages?

  • Bigger Facebook profile photos
  • Improved SEO via updated Facebook URLs
  • Better using of the “About” box & “Info” tab
  • Use of “Like” boxes to increase inbound links
  • Incorporating your blog content into Facebook
  • Adding Google Analytics to your Facebook page
  • Posting (more) multimedia on your Facebook pageFacebook Like thumbs up

Of course, it’s possible there are Facebook features you love that have entirely omitted. Let me know what you think.

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Yale Law School Library Reading RoomOver at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, reporter Sam Favate asks the question, Are you looking for a law school to fit your politics?

The rather atonal question arises because The Princeton Review has now included among its many categories the odd terms “most liberal” and “most conservative.” You can read Favate’s article here.

I may sound naïve when I suggest that I’m not sure what that means. I know the phrases never were part of my decision-making when I selected a law school back in 1989 or thereabouts.

My “blindness” on that score may rankle some readers, who instead recall law school as a time of struggling through their days as one-sided ideology was crammed down their throats. The law school they suffered was a curricular version of one political platform or another.

Sorry I missed all that. I was too busy thinking that the faculty were hell-bent on their mission to obfuscate what could have been clear. Through the fog, I completely missed the indoctrination. (Except, of course, the pedagogical imperative that we accept as normal and right the status quo—in business, and law, and public policy).

Should prospective law students select schools based on politics? Probably not—but what do I know. I think being around folks who think differently from you may be a good thing.

Recently, I read some commentary about the news sources we all select. No more must we all imbibe from the network nightly news fountain; instead, there are multiple streams from which to drink.

That’s great, but it has a downside. If we shun sources that don’t agree with our worldview, are we just insisting on being a choir that is preached to?

This fall, another media critic pointed out a common phenomenon on Facebook: As “friends” offer views that others find disagreeable or worse, people “unfriend” each other. Pretty soon, our Facebook feeds are cleansed of contrary views—especially in an incendiary presidential election year.

I don’t argue that any of us should have to weather a storm of offense in Facebook—or in law school. But a little diversity of opinion can’t possibly be a bad thing. Can it?

Do you change your Facebook page every month?

A lawyer asked me that this week, when he noticed that the Arizona Attorney Facebook page had a unique profile image.

Doesn’t everyone do that? I answered. But no, I guess not. And that’s a shame.

Changing your Facebook image for your business or product is not a no-brainer. Some may argue that keeping your brand constant and recognizable—never changing—is the most important thing. Until this past spring, I generally agreed with that.

But then Facebook got all Timeline-y up in our grill, forcing a new look onto all of us. And the result has been … pretty good, if you ask me. It has allowed us to vary that large image to relate more closely to every month’s cover content.

So now we have our magazine cover (the current one every month) as our smallish image to the left side of the screen. And Timeline opened up a broad swath of real estate to us. What could we do with that big screen-wide space?

Quite a bit, I decided.

So when you look at our current page, remember that the photo collage—materials in regard to ASU Law School—is not everlasting, but just there for the month. It relates to our cover story, which this month is a Q&A with Law School Dean Doug Sylvester.

Below you’ll find a few of our other profile images. The small photo of each cover is your hint about what the larger image “means.”

And in case you’re wondering how we create the image: It’s a mad dash in my house in the days (hours?) before the new issue “rolls out” on the first of the month.

“What do we have in the house that’s British?” I asked my beleaguered daughters as I mused on our July/August cover (about the history of legal language).

“Quick, haul out your art supplies!” I barked, as our May Creative Arts issue was about to land in the cloud.

“That huge coin bucket—where is it?” I hectored, thinking about how to illustrate our annual Top Verdicts issue.

A little staging, some bad (natural) lighting, and we had a new image for the month. It takes a village, or at least a few dragooned villagers.

Maybe all of it doesn’t matter much. After all, most people interact with businesses they have “Liked” through their own news feed; they may rarely go to the brand’s Facebook page. But I just see that page as another opportunity—to communicate our content and tone, and occasionally to interact with readers who appreciate our involvement in all parts of their brains.

Coming up this fall: magazine covers on the historic Tombstone trial and on lawyer happiness. Ideas welcome.

Here are our recent pages, which you can click to enlarge (for Change of Venue Friday fun, can you spot the barnyard animal? Comment below if you find it). Have a great weekend!

Facebook Screen shot April 2012

Facebook Screen shot May 2012

Facebook Screen shot June 2012

Facebook Screen shot July August 2012

Facebook Screen shot September 2012

This morning, I am staring at a dollar bill on my desk, trying to decipher what it “says.”

Legally speaking, it’s quite likely that it’s saying something, since the U.S. Supreme Court held that in the campaign-contribution context, that dollar is speech.

So if a greenback can talk up a storm, how is it possible that a Facebook “Like” holds no communicative value?

That was the ruling at a federal district court that had to determine whether employees were fired for exercising their free-speech rights. As the Washington Post tells the tale: 

“Daniel Ray Carter Jr. logged on to Facebook and did what millions do each day: He ‘liked’ a page by clicking the site’s thumbs up icon. The problem was that the page was for a candidate who was challenging his boss, the sheriff of Hampton, Va.

“That simple mouse click, Carter says, caused the sheriff to fire him from his job as a deputy and put him at the center of an emerging First Amendment debate over the ubiquitous digital seal of approval: Is liking something on Facebook protected free speech?”

Read the whole article here.

Risky behavior, certainly, especially given how tetchy elected sheriffs can be. But the court ruled that a simple click of “Like,” without commenting, is not speech.

The sheriff’s office is likely ecstatic. But the ruling puts that office in a strange conceptual box: The office fired people for taking a speech position contrary to the top official’s position. And the court sustained that employment decision because there was no speech involved.

Confused yet?

Oddly enough, would the court have had to rule otherwise if the employees had dropped dollar bills off at the opponent’s campaign headquarters without a note attached, rather than signal support via a digital thumbs-up?

Now, of course, the appeals roll in. As this article explains, Facebook, the ACLU and a number of amici have briefed the issue of how a Like certainly is speech.

It all makes me wonder how much the court understands social media. I wrote on Friday about a promising survey that shows judges are growing warmer to social media. But anyone who has ever worked hard for a “Like” for their business’s Facebook page understands inherently that a Like is speech. And among all the difficult-to-grasp concepts in technology, “Like” is just what it sounds.

Feel free to Like this post; I’ll know it means something.

If comments are “advertisements,” should we just go back to chatting?

Not to be overly dramatic, but the conversation may be the heart of social media, its very lifeblood.

Anyone who has ever launched a Facebook page, blog, Twitter handle or Pinterest board knows that what they really seek is engagement, a dynamic involvement by readers and other posters.

To social media, the comment is a nutritional daily requirement.

But what if that comment were both sustenance and a poison pill that could undermine your entire site?

Lawyers who have created their own websites or Facebook pages should be interested in the evolution of the following important question: Are comments “advertisements”?

A ruling by an advertising standards board—in Australia—ruled that the two are essentially equivalent, at least on Facebook pages of companies that sell products.

Here is how a recent article on the topic opened:

“A ruling that Facebook is an advertising medium—and not just a way to communicate—will force companies to vet comments posted by the public to ensure they are not sexist, racist or factually inaccurate.

“In a move that could change the nature of the social networking site forever, companies could be fined or publicly shamed for the comments that appear on their Facebook ‘brand’ pages.

“Last month the advertising industry watchdog issued a judgment in which it said comments made by ‘’fans’’ of a vodka brand’s Facebook page were ads and must therefore comply with industry self-regulatory codes, and therefore consumer protection laws.”

Read the whole thing here.

A few factors suggest to me that lawyers need not be too concerned about this quite yet.

First, there’s been no such ruling stateside, so this may be an outlier.

Second, the reasoning underlying this ruling applies to products. There may be such a thing as legal products, but a law firm Facebook page is more along the lines of communicating its services, a different thing entirely.

Third, we already know that posts and comments may cause legal problems, and so we look out for that.

Finally, most firms get substantially fewer comments from readers than, say, Target or (ha!) Chick-fil-A. The process of reviewing recent posts for appropriateness likely doesn’t take very long.

But all of us who enjoy that give-and-take with readers should be aware that comments may take on even more legal significance in the future. Keep those comments coming—at least as long as they’re not advertisements.

 

Mentor event at the Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

Mentor event at the Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

 

Instead of writing some drowsy recap of last Thursday’s Mentor Committee Kickoff event, I decided simply to list my notebook’s main points:

–>  Great event, great people, great discussions, great connections, great food, great vendors. Free.

Congratulations to the State Bar of Arizona and the affiliated groups that staged the event. (Read more about it here and here.) And keeping with the list theme that busy people like so much, here is the evening by the numbers:

    • 226 attendees (plus those many I saw stroll in without signing in and getting a name badge)
    • 4 vendors
    • 3 hours complimentary valet parking
    • 1,500 appetizers
    • 7,200 ice cubes
    • 1,000 conversations
    • 10/20/11: Networking event by the Bar’s YLD/Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Sections
    • 11/17/11: Networking event by the Bar’s YLD/Mentor Committee/Sole Practitioner and Small Firm Sections

    I’ll provide more detail on those evening events as we get closer. But put them in your calendar now.

A few more photos are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

And while you’re there, why not click Like? Every little click brings me much joy—and it lets you participate in a page dedicated to the Arizona legal community. So share the page with friends and colleagues—show us some love!

Many people (my family included) were pleased to see the return of the hit TV series Glee this week. (I wrote about Glee before.) There is a lot to like about the show, but their adept handling of “mashups” may be one of their signature strategies.

Because this is Change of Venue Friday, let’s muse a bit on why we like mashups so darned much.

First, a definition, for those unfamiliar with the term. The mashup is a combination of two unlike things, yielding a result that may be surprisingly harmonious and enjoyable.

You know, peanut butter and chocolate.

We all—lawyers included—like the mashup. Perhaps that’s because it exemplifies the best moments in life itself, those times when aspects of living collide and let us see things in a brand-new way.

So ever-present is the mashup that there is now a universal symbol of the process. It was developed by a creative type named Zohar Manor-Abel, and it looks exactly like it means—many into one—just like our own “E Pluribus Unum” nation.

The logo is open source, so you can use it freely. How mashup-able is that?

The iPad is another example of a mashup, or at least technology that encourages us to mash, mash, mash. Their most recent TV ad shows how you can gather your world and all its disparate elements into this black rectangle.

Facebook also is a master of the mashup. Where else do we entertain all of our friends, with all of our “friends,” and add in news items, retail pitches, blog meanderings and comical waste-of-time games like Farmville? Facebook is all about the mashup.

But those mashups also can be odd.

On Facebook, I have a “friend” who once, a generation ago, was a friend. We haven’t spoken in years, but about a year ago he located me (damn my unique name) and I’ve been be-“friended” ever since. But in the past few months, his posts have started to send me around the bend. They are focused almost entirely on the evils of building a mosque anywhere in the New York tri-state area. He even changed his profile picture from his face to be the Twin Towers pre-9/11.

All pretty harsh, angry stuff. Not “gleeful” at all.

Cold Stone: Pretty sweet mashups

But then two days ago Facebook’s functionality caused a mashup that made me smile. As I scanned my feed, I saw my friend’s looming towers next to the update, “Sinclair Jabberwot likes Cold Stone Creamery.”

(I hope there’s no one really called Sinclair Jabberwot.)

Cold Stone and mosque-bashing—kind of takes the wind out of your reactionary sails, doesn’t it? But that’s a mashup world—sometimes hate-filled and lovable all at the same time.

The other night I encountered another mashup. I belong to a trade group called the Society of Professional Journalists, and on Wednesday they held an evening seminar on a reporting topic—social media, of all things.

The SPJ puts on great programs, but they’re often an odd conglomeration of types. The other night was no different. A mix of coiffed on-air talent sat cheek-by-jowl with writers, photographers and affiliated industry people.

As I participate in programs like these, I sometimes feel that there’s an interior monologue of dueling worldviews:

  • TV newspeople: “Does anyone have a way to get pâté stains out of Porsche upholstery?”
  • Ink-stained wretches: “Does anyone have the number for AHCCCS? My kid has a boil.”

But the other night, when the topic was social media—mashup’s own downtown—the groups meshed.

At Arizona Attorney Magazine, mashups may be less evident: We’ve got our legal beat, and we tend to stick to it. But they still exist. Engaging readers means sometimes mixing topics and themes to reach people who are busy and toil in niches. That’s why we recently ran articles on environmental law and law practice, and even on legal history—something that no one practices daily, but may enjoy.

Enjoy the mashups in your own life—and enjoy the weekend.

The Geosocial Universe, by Jesse Thomas of digital creative agency Jess3

Rankings of all kinds serve a few purposes—sometimes competing ones. 

An infographic (don’t you love that term?) making the rounds this week shows in pictorial fashion the relative size of social network usage. It also points out how much of each social media channel is accessed by mobile devices.

This is a fascinating and useful way to communicate information. The graphic is clear and compact, and attractive, to boot.

But it can cause anxiety—much of it needless.

For instance, when I look at it and see Skype as the biggest piece of the pie, I have to wonder what I’m missing. You see, my name is Tim, and I am Skype-free (“Hello, Tim”).

In fact, my narrow view of Skype’s capabilities is challenged every time I talk to my 14-year-old daughter about it. I initially thought of Skype as a cool way jet-setting international types avoided long-distance call charges. You know, VOIP with a French accent.

I also thought it was purely video-chatting. But after I shared my clueless commentary, Willa just rolled her eyes, spoke with short words, and informed me it’s much more than that. In fact, I could use it without video.

I was chagrined, but also a little disappointed. After all, Facebook is nice and all, but Skype had seemed oh-so-Jetsons to me. I could use it as audio-only? Not so madcap after all.

But back to the infographic.

As you gaze at the relative pools of channel users, you have to wonder: Am I on the rising or declining wave in my channel? Should I allow my leaky raft to drift toward the siren songs? “Gowalla wants you.” “Foursquare means you’ll never be square again.” Their numbers are small, but are they growing, or are they yesterday’s coolio idea?

Can you hear me now?

And then, I take a deep breath. I remember that choices in channel are driven by choices in goal and mission. I remember that I have only so many hours and brain cells. And I remember that no stinkin’ social media channel is going to head off my squareness factor.

Now if only the Jetsons and I could get my Skype to work in my hovercraft.

More about that cool graphic is here.

Arizona Attorney is the monthly magazine published by the State Bar of Arizona that is mailed to (and maybe read by) all Arizona lawyers.

We are already on the Web (http://www.myazbar.org/AZAttorney). You also can fan us on facebook (http://tinyurl.com/ksgly5) and follow us on twitter (http://twitter.com/azatty).

That’s all fun and informative, but we established this blog to communicate even better with readers and others.

Our upcoming mission: Our editor, Tim Eigo, will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (http://www.nanowrimo.org). It all happens in November, so stop in to follow his progress.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,169 other followers