Updated 19 June 2007. Spotting Lawyer X alone in his
office, Lawyer M decides now is as good a time as any to ask him
about the memorandum the Marketing Department sent around a few
weeks ago (News Alerts
Keep You Informed). It informed lawyers about email
alerting services for current news.
"Hey, X," M greets him. "What's
Absorbed in his work, X looks up and
mumbles what sounds like, "Nothing." But
he could have said, "Ugh."
"Busy?" M ventures.
X nods, but gives up trying to ignore
her when he realizes she succeeded in interrupting his thoughts.
With a gesture, he invites her to sit down.
M shakes her head. "It looks like you
can use a coffee break."
"You buying?" X asks with sudden
As the lawyers walk to a nearby
coffee shop, M remarks, "The memo Marketing sent out on getting news
via email has the look of your work."
"I gave them a run-down of some of
the services available," X admits.
"Problem is," says M, "I'm starting
to hate email. I get so much spam, it's hard to weed through it to
find the messages I have to read. I've even accidentally deleted
After ordering coffee, Lawyer X tells
M about another delivery option for current news
-- XML-based news feeds.
XML-based news feeds, popularly called RSS or Atom for the different
standards currently available, consist of hyperlinked headlines, and
sometimes, partial or full text stories. You need an aggregator
-- separate software or a Web
service -- to
display the feeds. It converts the XML coding into legible text you
can quickly scan.
such as The Washington Post, the
BBC and ESPN, technology news sources such as Wired News,
PC World and CNET and legal news sources such as
PRWeb, deliver news via XML-based
feeds. Federal, state and local governments also have begun
delivering news and information in this way. The
Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau makes available several
feeds, including one for research issues (Wisconsin Briefs).
provides a feed for press releases from his office. The
West Virginia Supreme Court maintains several feeds for current
judicial decisions. You can subscribe to all opinions of the court,
or to opinions in certain subject categories.
Few feeds let you filter their news content by keyword.
News feed provider,
does offer this capability. To filter news from Moreover by keyword,
format the feed address like this: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?k=keyword&o=rss.
For phrases, use this format: http://p.moreover.com/cgi-local/page?k=keyword1%20keyword2&o=rss.
To find two or more terms in the same story, format it like this:
Replace the bolded keyword with your search term. Use this
strategy to track news about companies or people. Be aware, though,
Moreover might do away with this free feature as it moves toward
commercial only access.
Three news services to enable keyword filtering since the original
publication of this article include Topix.net,
Headline News and
Trade and industry articles aggregator,
also lets you filter feeds by keyword. To do this, conduct a search
and then look for the orange XML ()
icon in the search results. Right-click the icon, and then copy and
paste the URL into your aggregator. They will now alert you to new
stories or articles that match your keywords.
Some aggregators enable keyword searching, which helps you plow
through the sources that generate a lot of content. At present,
Lawyer X prefers the free Web-based aggregator
Because you connect to Bloglines with any computer via a Web
browser, using it doesn't require the installation of additional
software. Yet the service provides many of the powerful features you
expect of a software utility. You can organize feeds into folders,
search feeds, import, export or find feeds and subscribe to mailing
lists (requires setting up a Bloglines email account). Bloglines
also supports both RSS and Atom feeds.
creating a Bloglines account --
called My Bloglines, you can begin adding the feeds you want
to monitor. Bloglines provides an extensive directory of feeds,
which you can browse or search. Other directories include
RSS in Government (19 June 2007: The site
appears to be abandoned.) helps you keep up with the release of new government feeds.
You can also find feeds by looking for the XML icon at sites you
visit. It often appears next to a feed link. Yahoo recently joined
the RSS bandwagon by highlighting feeds in search results. If a
matching Web page also has an RSS address, the Yahoo search result
displays two additional options --
"View as XML" and
"Add to My Yahoo!"
View as XML supplies the feed address, which you then can plug into
As you begin reading the
feeds, you might want to save specific news items. While some
sources archive feed content, others do not. Some feeds, such as
PRWeb, generate a lot of content
and archive it selectively. Others, such
as The Washington Post,
provide limited access to the archive.
Bloglines displays a save option following each news summary. You
can also annotate an item when you save it, although the annotation
doesn't display until you select the edit option next to it in the
Special search engines enable
searching XML-based feed content.
probably the most well known among them. (19
June 2007: Daypop left the scene for several months, but now has
returned.) It provides separate query
options for searching RSS headlines or the full content of the feed.
However, its database provides access to current items only.
(19 June 2007: In recent months, I have
Blog Search and
more useful than either Feedster or Waypath. Despite its name,
Google Blog Search queries RSS feeds.) another RSS search engine, offers a more extensive database.
Separate queries for Microsoft and Enron, for example, indicate it
contains news items dated six or seven months ago.
Feedster further enables tracking search results with RSS feeds.
Look for the RSS options at the top of your search results. If you
prefer email to RSS, Feedster recently introduced a keyword alert
service. Look for the "Get Search by Email"
link at the top of your search results.
Use it to monitor additions to the database that match your
provides yet another RSS search option. Its database appears to date
back about six weeks.
When searching feed content, keep in mind that not all feeds provide
full-text content. Some consist only of a linked headline. Others
provide a headline and the first few words of the lead sentence. An
RSS search engine can only query the content provided. Therefore, if
a feed only produces items with partial text, you cannot search the
full-text of the source via these specialty engines.
Back at her computer, Lawyer M busily adds feed after feed to her
Bloglines account. So intent is she that she fails to hear Partner
Gruff enter the office.
He clears his throat nearly
sending M into orbit.
"Partner Gruff," she
acknowledges, gathering her wits.
"Looks serious," he remarks with a nod of his head toward the
computer. "What are you doing?"
After a moment, M
responds simply, "Reading the news."
"A computer to
read the news," Gruff says shaking his head. "What's wrong with a
"It's not that there's anything wrong
with a newspaper," M begins, "But I can find out about key news
faster. I can also sift through several news sources quickly to get
to the stories I want."
On a roll, she continues.
"I can save stories about clients or research matters,
or email them. I can even get some legal information such as
U.S. Supreme Court opinions shortly after their release."
When she pauses for a breath, Gruff harrumphs, "You've been spending
too much time with Lawyer X."