It’s been just about a year now since my career change and I’ve just recently perfected my “elevator pitch” type answer when people ask me what I do for a living.  Ready?  Here is it:  I work for non-profit organization that produces open legal educational materials and develops technological solutions for legal education and the legal community.

Kinda classy sounding, no?

But let me break that down for you a little.  What this means is that I work with and within the following communities:

  • Legal Education/Law Schools
  • Library and Information Delivery Services
  • The American Legal System
  • Academic Publishing

All of these systems are either completely broken or going through a time of upheaval such that it’s becoming apparent that they either need to change or be thought of as broken as well.  I have to be honest, it feels many days like I am at the Epicenter of Suck.

That sounds more pessimistic than it is.  Really.

On some episode of “The Simpsons“, Lisa Simpson remarked “The Chinese use the same word for crisis and opportunity.”  and Homer replied, “Yes…crisistunity.”  I feel like that’s where we’re at with these communities/systems.   They’re connected in many ways and there are common solutions out there that can fix them.  Unfortunately, there’s no one magic bullet and any solutions will require the participation of many disparate groups.

Like Lisa Simpson, I like graphs.  I make a lot of graphs.  It just is the way my brain understands information.  I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the interconnectivity of the problems and solutions of these worlds that I live in.   I was trying all sorts of models, mainly in Venn diagram family.  However, in talking about it with my boss, he mentioned that he looks at it like a subway map, so I tried that and that’s the general model of what I have here. The “stations” are worlds/systems that have problems and the “train lines” are common solutions that will either solve or ameliorate some of the issues those worlds have.

I am not happy with the way this map has turned out, really.  There’s for sure  more outer/secondary stations to be added from the big four and more solutions.  And probably more connections that I’m not seeing.  And knowledge management might be a solution not a station?  So that’s why I’m blogging about it…I feel like there’s possibly a kernel of a good idea here, but I’m not quite at it.  I hope that maybe someone will take the idea and run with it with the ultimate result that I’ll better understand what’s going on.

If you have any changes or suggestions, let me know.


  1 comment for “Crisis-tunity

  1. Paul E. Merrell
    April 30, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Re: your subway map image

    I think your image along with accompanying text does a passable job of describing what you perceive as an attempt to illustrate a portion of your present working environment. I think it’s useful as a snapshot in time of your thinking, but I see no path forward in it. It is truly a snapshot in time. It’s not a subway whose cars are moving in any direction.

    I’d be interested in seeing what you might do to combine that perception with a a path forward toward the Digital Public Law Library of America that you propose in a later article, “Disrupt My Industry. Please.” I.e., where is disruption needed? In broad strokes, what changes do the disruptors need to make at each location in your image to connect more lines to more locations?

    How might the Epicenter of Suck be transformed into something better?

    — Paul E. Merrell, J.D.

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