Times They Are A-Changin’

Das britische Anwalts-Blog The Time Blawg hatte gestern einen interessanten Artikel zu paper.li im Programm.

Sie erinnern sich, paper.li ist ein Newsletter-Dienst, der Links auf Twitter aggregiert und als Webseite darstellt. Ich benütze den Dienst für das “Antitrust Daily” und habe mich mit seinen unbestreitbaren Nachteilen einstweilen arrangiert.

Meine Bitte steht, wenn Sie das nicht gut finden, dann lassen Sie mich’s bitte wissen.

Der Artikel im The Time Blawg ist ordentlich recherchiert; lohnt sich, da vorbeizusehen. Interessanter fand ich aber die Kommentare (z.B. den). Dienste wie Paper.li kommen und gehen, man mag sie oder nicht. Im Hintergrund der Diskussion schwelt aber ein grundlegendes, kulturelles Thema. Wie geht man als Anwalt mit dem Web 2.0 um?

Ich habe dort eben gepostet:

We have a paper.li over at the ABA Antitrust Section http://bit.ly/ed2TbR as a showcase for what the Section and its Committees do on Twitter. Using social media is fairly new to the Section, but the Section now has 13 Twitter accounts http://bit.ly/hNkga6, so we thought a paper.li might be a good idea to show the added value Twitter has for people working in the area. The “ABASAL Daily Digest” is built over a Twitter list of the Section’s and the Section Committee’s Twitter accounts.

I have a paper.li for antitrust/competition law at http://bit.ly/gUfRSP. I started the “Antitrust Daily” using the customize option (first with all of Twitter, then a list of attorneys/journalists) plus a Twitter search query but it turned out that paper.li does not handle long search queries well. I now use a list of Twitter accounts who tweet only or also on antitrust and related topics. The noise vs signal ratio is not ideal but OK.

This is a long way of saying that not all paper.lis out there are by and for bloggers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with bloggers promoting their blogs. We are talking about the Web 2.0, right? But in my view, the real value of paper.li is where it disseminates information on particular topics or areas of interest. If you take out the social media garbage and the lifestyle tweeting, there is actually very limited content on Twitter for certain areas of the law.

Antitrust/competition law is one of those. I guess one of the reasons is that people simply do not see Twitter as a relevant source for that kind of content. I am hoping paper.li may help to change that perspective. If some don’t like it, they don’t like it. Others do. One can’t be everything to everyone.

On the technical side of things, I don’t understand why a discussion on the merits of paper.li should turn into a WP policy discussion (“benign” – I’d like to see that conversation with the folks over at WP). One shouldn’t confuse the respective roles which Twitter, Smallrivers and CMS installations like WP have in all of this.

People pour their content into one big bowl. That bowl is called Twitter. There currently are 110 million tweets per day in the bowl. So Twitter lets people filter. That’s done by following, lists and/or searches. However, the fact that user A decides to see only what users B to K put on their timelines does not change the 110 million tweets-in-the-bowl fact. The bowl is there, and it’s open. It is visible to the Internet world outside of TW, and it’s searchable for Google.

Twitter does more, its API hands out ladles and spoons to others for them to make use of the bowl (although that is changing, read http://rww.to/hIY1hY). That’s what TW says in its ToS, and that’s what that venture capital campus outfit in Lausanne is doing. Smallrivers has one of those hundreds of spoons, or perhaps in this case a ladle, but Twitter is still the big bowl, and there is still no change to the fact that what people pour into that bowl is (almost) entirely their business.

How anyone could think that putting content on a website gives rise to a right or moral claim for them to have control over others linking or not linking to it is beyond me (always assuming of course that outgoing links are in compliance with the laws of the country, the anchor text is OK, etc.). When the toothpaste is out, it’s out.

I haven’t looked at this from a legal angle but I feel that the various discussions about paper.li and the like serve as a helpful reminder that Web 2.0 tools are better not used with a Web 1.0 mindset.

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