In the past few months I’ve talked to people about the website concept that I described here; you can see a prototype of the site here. It’s intended to be a sort of portal where users share documents, sound recordings, presentations, pictures, movies, etc. I got the idea after noticing that lawyers would rather let their pleadings, research, etc. rot than let someone else get use out of it. Yeah, that’s a model for success …
Now, obviously the Internet is already chock full of resource sharing sites like YouTube (videos), Scribd (documents), SlideShare and Thumbstacks (presentations); but they don’t emphasize community or take advantage of a shared knowledge-base. They just let you post stuff and see what other people have posted. Plus, none of them emphasizes member comments or ratings. My site would highlight community, shared knowledge, and shared ratings about everything — judges, court facilities, software, hardware, reference works, research services, etc.
Sadly, it seems nobody is interested in helping make that vision a reality. And it just so happened that this morning one of the people I had discussed this idea with suggested that I keep trying and not give up. I told him that I appreciated the thought, but it would be hard to stay optimistic.
The whole episode got me thinking about the difference between doing stuff and talking about stuff. As I told my colleague, I can hardly count how many times a business venture fell apart and knocked me on my ass. But that just makes my point. I’m still at it, because I prefer to go out and try rather than stand on the sidelines and take potshots.
Case in point — Avvo, the portal that attempts to do for our industry what Zillow and Expedia did for real estate and travel. I have a running dispute with bloggers like Robert Ambrogi [and to some extent Carolyn Elefant and Denise Howell] on this point. I have defended Avvo as one step in the right direction (though by no means the only one), while other bloggers just keep on whining about it. But the fact is that sites like Avvo represent the kind of disruptive technology we need to foster if we are to nudge the legal market in the direction of genuine competition and even (gasp) efficiency.
So why not Avvo? If the experiment fails then so be it. We pick up and move on, being better for the experience. But to push for the untimely demise of the idea or dance on its grave says more about these detractors than it does about the site itself.