Interview with Michael Whitt Q.C. on his new Flipboard Magazine

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Bennett Jones consistently tries to find new ways to inform, engage and provide clients with interesting content that may be of interest to their area of business. With an ever-increasing use of mobile technology, finding information on the go is a real benefit to our clients. With most of our clients in that mobile space, we set out to take advantage of Flipboard‘s new magazine creation abilities as a way to provide curated content to our clients, and network at large.

This Flipboard initiative is well-timed, and pairs nicely with our new responsive web and mobile sites.

Michael Whitt, Q.C., was an obvious choice as our initial Flipboard magazine curator. He is a Patent Agent, Trademark Agent, and Co-Head of our Information Technology practice. Michael’s Flipboard magazine, “Bennett Jones Technology,” launched on April 25th, 2013, and we asked Michael about the experience of creating the magazine and his initial thoughts on the idea.

Why a Flipboard Magazine?

When I was introduced to the app and the idea of Flipboard, it seemed like it streamlined what I already do, to some extent — when I’m reading the news or news feeds which are relevant to my practice and clients, I’ll often send a link to something of interest to another lawyer or a client or friend because of their interests or because there is some relevance to what they are doing or planning. Using the app, a very similar effect is achieved with much less aggro.

It also seems like an interesting wrinkle on the “content consumption” side of mobile device use, seems to work well across platforms and device display size, and provides access to a number of other mobile-related content types (LinkedIn, etc). More and more of what we read (and write, and edit) is being done on tablet and similar devices, and is not necessarily tied to our desks or desktops — and this is even more pronounced amongst my clients. So this seemed like an opportunity to try something interesting.

Plus, a couple of our internal folks who I really trust came in all excited about this new app, so of course I got excited about it too! 

How do you think curated content benefits your clients?

We’ll see, but to some degree why my clients rely upon me is partly because of what I pay attention to. Part of why I pay attention to particular things above other things is that it relates to what I do, what I am interested in, what I’m involved in for clients and others, and where I think things are getting interesting in technology, intellectual property law, commercial law, technology start-ups and financing, healthcare and devices, and ICT, network, AI and etc. Those perspectives drive how I think about things. It is a sort of virtuous cycle of attention.

If a sample of what I’m paying attention to is of interest to clients, and may provide them with insights into things I think are important, then that kind of curated content may be of some utility or interest.

On the other hand, knowing I’m the curator may provide some audiences with a clue that the content won’t be of any interest at all! (smile)

Do you think curated content by professionals is a direction we are headed with mobile technology?

I think it is an interesting thread. This app and system provides an interesting and friction-free (or friction-reduced) way of providing curated or selected content for voluntary consumption. There is very little cost of any sort to the curator. This may encourage some human intervention in the organization of truly enormous amounts of information being produced, reproduced, repurposed, and developed and presented for access to the public via pervasive networks. It is formatted for the content consumer in a nice, consistent and tasteful yet standard “magazine” presentation. I think this is interesting.

I’d like to try using it for a while, seeing whether the focus of what I inject into a “magazine” changes, or perhaps whether more than one “topical” magazine might be better (maybe one for legal/IP and one for technology/interesting ideas?) I think it is better to look at this as another interface experiment or as a test of how a frictionless curating experience may make for better/different content collections. Whether any readers are interested is maybe the true test.

I don’t want to get too excited about this, because the act of choosing and curating is so much different from creating or writing articles or content, or giving advice or guidance. We’ll see how this turns out.

There isn’t much doubt, though, that we are only beginning to understand how to deal with truly overwhelming amounts of content so that the content we actually choose to consume is relevant, interesting, useful, etc. I get excited about this type of Web 2.0 sort of stuff, as well as some of the big-idea, big-data search and analytics ideas that are changing the way we interact with large content collections.

There’s also something about very high resolution displays, pervasive high capacity network connectedness, very capable mobile devices, and content that makes me think that the dynamics of content choice and delivery are about to change (again), and in a very significant way.

You can subscribe to Michael’s Flipboard magazine here.