Everything Lawyers Wanted To Know About RSS Readers (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

The icon for adding an RSS feed

OMG. Acronyms are not just for texting your BFF.

Members of the legal profession know well how to create a glossary of complicated acronyms for various official filings.

Remember that case where the ACM (“Association for Computing Machinery”) sued the GBF (“Gravitational Biology Facility”), but the jury verdict went to the opposing side—totally NMP (“not my problem”). Still, your boss asked to see you ASAYGB (“as soon as you get back”). What a BDATO (“bad day at the office”).

An unabbreviated word of caution, however. A California judge went so far as to reprimand lawyers for the egregious number of acronyms used in their appellant’s opening brief. Judge David Sills of the Fourth District Court of Appeal criticized the lawyers for “descending into an alphabet soup of jargon-based acronyms,” according to the Legal Pad blog (via ABA Journal).

“Judging by the briefing in the case before us now, nobody got the hint. Unfortunately, there are no rehab clinics for acronym addicts,” Sills wrote in his opinion (via the ABA).

“Consider, for example, this sentence, committed on page 32 of the appellant’s opening brief:” Sills continued, “‘In June 22, 2000, CARB adopted an SCM for AIM coatings.’ Huh?”

Huh, is right. Acronyms sometimes make a simple idea or statement seem unjustly intimidating.

Take, for example, RSS feeds. Or, RSS readers. Although blog articles (like this one) are always encouraging professionals to use them, what is an RSS, really?

It’s time to explain.

RSS stands for “Rich Site Summary.” RSS is a format for delivering regularly changing web content, such as news-related sites, blogs and other WWW (“world wide web”) content.

There are three major advantages to using RSS feeds (see, What is RSS):

  1. You use one source to stay informed on any subject that you deem interesting.
  2. You save time by retrieving the latest content at one site, as opposed to looking up each site individually.
  3. You maintain higher levels of privacy because you don’t need to input your personal information to sign up for an online or e-mail newsletter.

RSS readers allow individuals to skim pre-screened headlines (e.g., re: news, fashion, law) to pick and choose—filter, if you will—the vast space that is the Internet. Then, you can narrow in on only those subjects that matter.

With RSS readers, a lawyer can stay informed without sacrificing those precious billable hours.

To get an idea, try out some of the most popular RSS readers, including Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows – integrates with Outlook), My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader (via What is RSS).

Google Reader is also available for your smartphone. Here is a great video tutorial of how it works (via Real Lawyers Have Blogs).

However, like overusing acronyms, don’t let overwhelming RSS feeds overrun your life. Unplug, desync, and disconnect once in awhile.

Keith Lee, author of An Associate’s Mind Blog, writes, “It was almost with dread that I opened my RSS Reader on Monday morning. There were 300+ new blog entries, news stories, infographics, etc. waiting for me. There was a sense of obligation about the whole thing.”

“With social media, blogging, etc. many people seem to think that a person needs to remain ‘engaged’ and stay on top of things 24/7 in order to be doing it properly,” laments Lee.

The solution? It may have two letters, but it’s not an acronym. When technology starts to get the best of you, don’t be afraid to just say “no.”

And, now you know.

-WB

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