Bay Area Blawgers

Tonight I went to a meet-up of Bay Area Blawgers (a blawger is a law blogger). Why did I go to this, when I normally don’t do blogger meet-up kinda stuff and don’t know much about law? Well, the get together was just a little down the road at Santa Clara University. And the shindig was coordinated by Eric Goldman. I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy reading Eric’s blog for coverage of web legal issues.

I came in just before things started and happened to luck into sitting by several neat people. On my right was Mike Masnick of Techdirt fame. If you don’t browse Techdirt from time to time — dude, you need to read fewer SEO blogs and broaden your horizons. :) Mike and the writers at Techdirt provide an independent take on news items. Mike’s got a long memory (like Danny Sullivan, but with general news), so he does a good job of putting news items into perspective. In my experience, Techdirt does a deeper level of analysis than most sites, so when Techdirt rakes Google over the coals for something, I tend to give that critique more weight.

To Mike’s right was Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. My advance planning for the meet-up consisted of wearing my EFF T-shirt, so all that hard planning paid off. Kurt polled the group on interesting questions about the DMCA (“How many of you have gotten a DMCA takedown notice?”). Afterwards, he talked about the info on this page where you can register as an online service provider with the U.S. Copyright. It’s a one-page form and an $80 fee. We also talked briefly about Google’s decision to anonymize our logs data after 18-24 months. I still hope to circle back around to that topic at some point (I’m a fan of the decision).

On my left was Colin Samuels. Colin is the general counsel for Accela, which makes government software. Colin told a good story about how he learned the ropes of white-hat SEO and built his reputation up enough to be the #1 Colin Samuels in the world, handily beating a Colin Samuels who skis. :)

Other tidbits:
- I didn’t realize that Sun’s general counsel is a blogger.
- We discussed whether it was better for a law blogger to mention legal cases that could be negative for a firm (it definitely bolsters your credibility as a blogger). We also talked about the pros and cons of anonymous blogging, and a little bit about online bullying.
- Chris Hoofnagle was there. I hadn’t seen Chris since the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference in Berkeley in 2004. Which reminds me: I want to hit some non-SEO conferences this year. Maybe Defcon or SIGGRAPH.
- One of the more entertaining people there, Kevin Underhill, runs a legal humor blog. That’s right, the law can be funny:

In a long-awaited and dramatic decision, the Supreme Court held today, unanimously, that in the context of the Guam Organic Act’s debt-limitation provision, 48 U.S.C. section 1423a, Guam’s debt limitation must be calculated according to the assessed valuation of property in Guam.

Like we didn’t all see that coming. In your face, Supreme Court of Guam!

I think a good time was had by all. Thanks for pulling so many blawgers together, Eric.

21 Responses to Bay Area Blawgers (Leave a comment)

  1. AGREED!

    TechDirt is a must read blog for CIOs of Telcos and Webmasters of Web Hosting & ISPs

    It does a good job or compiling related news items and adding achival posts to place current news into perspective..

    This blog and TechDirt are usually within a few places of eachother on the Technorati popular 100

  2. Nopoky Meiout

    “Google’s decision to anonymize our logs data after 18-24 months.”

    Why 18 months, why not 1 month? or 1 week? Or immediately after you’ve derived the metrics you wanted? I know they said it was to comply with various worldwide laws but they’ve simply taken the worst of the worlds laws and blanketted it over everyone. I bet most of that 18 month old data could have been anonymized a lot sooner.

    Let me flip that over.

    Suppose Google operates in USA/EU and in Bongo land, and Bongo land requires everyone be poked in the eye with a sharp stick. Google announces a policy: “we will only poke people in the eye with a sharp stick once to comply with worldwide eye poking laws, we are so totally not evil dude!” Isn’t that just a maximalist eye poking policy pretending to be a minimalist one?!

    It appears to me, an outsider, that Google has an increasing trust issue, and really this is so far far short of what is required.

  3. Matt, according to his talk, why would one want to register as an online service provider with the U.S. Copyright?

    I find some of these ideas intriguing, and wish to subscribe to their newsletter.

    Agreed on the techdirt, I’ve been hooked forever. Even got them to link to my blog from the “counting crows” story yesterday. Great site.

  4. “In my experience, Techdirt does a deeper level of analysis than most sites, so when Techdirt rakes Google over the coals for something, I tend to give that critique more weight.”

    That TechDirt article discusses Google’s decision to (mostly) drop support for the SOAP API … so are there any plans to reverse that decision?

  5. Rekrap

    You have an EFF t-shirt? You deserve big e-hugs. Kudos to you sir!

  6. David

    What no Pamela Jones?

    I’m mortified :( .

  7. I guess http://www.dumblaws.com didn’t prove the law was funny? ;)

    It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of lawyers are bloggers. Legal sites are becoming more and more competitive with each other, and lawyers are spending increasing amounts of money on them (some of it on me! WOO HOO!) Blogging is nothing more than an extension of the competition.

  8. alek, I don’t know of any change on that issue. I just wanted to point out a topic where Techdirt gave Google a rough time.

  9. Matt,

    While I do appreciate the promotion, I am but a lowly Assistant General Counsel at Accela. I am the top-ranked Colin Samuels here, however! It was great to finally put faces to blogs last night; we all owe Professor Goldman a debt of thanks for pulling us all together in a non-virtual manner after all this time! Take care.

    Colin

  10. Markus

    Hello Matt, I was wondering how to get in contact with you? I’ve found a killer new spam method that is targetting some major sites and taking over the google serps. I wanted to give you a heads up before this goes mainstream.

  11. Thanks Matt for introducing some Blwags, subscribed to the feeds.

  12. Do you read the Bob Loblaw Law Blog?

    R.I.P, Arrested Development…

  13. Harith

    Markus

    “Hello Matt, I was wondering how to get in contact with you?”

    Matt mentioned previously how to send him a private message :)

    Post your message on this blog using ANOTHER EMAIL than the email you use now when posting on Matt’s blog.

    At the top of the message you write:

    ***DON’T APPROVE THIS MESSAGE***DON’T APPROVE THIS MESSAGE***

  14. Harith

    Markus

    And btw. Talking about spam. You may wish to read this update. Seems our good friends at WebSpam Team in Europe including Brian White have been doing recently a great much needed job ;-)

    An update on spam reporting

  15. Yep true!

    Well these are really wonderful moments to meet up with people of your kind.

    Manish Pandey

  16. You forgot to mention that Eric Schmidt is giving a keynote at Web 2.0 expo http://www.web2expo.com. Nice to see Todd Friesen is also presenting. Should be good.

  17. Nel

    Great article Matt!
    I find some of these ideas intriguing, and wish to subscribe to their newsletter.

  18. Ars

    I red some part of Eric’s blog too. I can say that it has very good articles about legal issues. If you have time read it, you will not regret.

  19. Doesn’t suprise me at all about the lawyers, two of my friends are lawers and have just gotten into it.

    Cheers, ToNy!

  20. just bumped into the site today and thanks for pointing out some interesting blawgers :)

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