Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2010-02-07 12:59:30  Run a Google search for “eDiscovery”, “e-discovery” or “electronic discovery” and you will get over 1.5 million hits. The sheer amount of ‘noise’ on the web about our industry is astounding. Just imagine how hard it is for someone just entering our field to find meaningful information and perspective. This need for clarity inspired us to create eDiscoveryJournal.com and apply the same principles that we use in eDiscovery itself to cut through the noise, to find the relevant within the noise.All these good intentions resulted in a marathon web surfing session that took me to some  unexpected places and revealed some interesting trends in the marketplace. Intelligent search requires either the right criteria or the right targets. We started our exercise on the targets. The goal was to create a search engine that only searched across the top 1,000 sites with explicit eDiscovery content. Sounds easy. Use the major search engines and criteria that are specific to our field as a base and then review the results to build a list. This is a classic review scenario and seemed simple enough. Of course, every reviewer knows that the initial tags and marks do not survive contact with the actual documents on the first day of review.Starting with a list of almost 9,000 sites, we were confident that we could find at least a thousand good sites to create our custom search engine. Hah. It quickly became apparent that the vast majority of hits had little or nothing to do with actually eDiscovery practice, service, software or content. The potentially relevant sites broke down into blogs by practitioners, specialized service/software providers, academic/governmental organizations, law firms and a scattering of actual news sites with eDiscovery areas. Many of the larger national technology providers had content buried in odd places that required extensive excavation to find. All of this to locate, score and categorize each site to increase the relevance of searches and enable you to navigate by top level categories through articles, blog posts, whitepapers, data sheets and other eDiscovery related information scattered over the web. The resulting custom search engine is far from perfect, but it does offer a focused, dynamic view eDiscovery content on the web that will grow and evolve as it is updated with new sites from our daily filtered searches.During these marathon surfing sessions, several interesting trends emerged:

  • Judging by the number of dead links and defunct business sites, we may have lost upwards of 10% of our small-medium sized service bureaus in the last 18 months. I could tell a little about them by the ‘Google-ghost’ snippets in the results windows. Most of the profiles appeared to be shops that used volume based software (i.e. they owed a click charge) and offered no real high end specialty consulting or services.
  • Many, many eDiscovery providers need to retake “Usability 101”. I had a terrible time trying to determine the basic offerings or even purpose of far too many sites. Were they selling technology, services or just putting up pretty logos for fun? Who knows. If you find a site that has been categorized incorrectly, put the blame on their home page. I do.
  • Providers think that ECA means anything that they are selling.
  • The vast majority of bloggers give up after three posts. The rest are posting less than once a month unless they have some kind direct or indirect sponsorship that drives them to write.
  • Too many providers use shell websites to redirect readers to their corporate sites. Some marketing genius came up with the idea to create a one page site for every webinar or white paper that they sponsored and give them catchy eDiscovery names like www.tamewilddata.com. I am not picking on Guidance here, they were not the worst by a long step. Nothing wrong with creative marketing, but this practice added literally thousands of blind hits to the eDiscovery noise and the same content was hosted on the provider’s main sites.
  • The resource pages for most sites listed the same 8-10 sites: Sedona, EDRM, Craig Ball, Ralph Losey, K & L Gates, etc. I cannot complain too much, as my eDiscovery Application Matrix was one of the default resource links, but it makes me wonder if one person did some work and everyone else just copied that link page.

The final result was an initial list of 543 sites that met my fairly strict requirements. That means that almost 95% of sites were only vaguely related to our industry or practice. No wonder webinars, conferences and training organizations are getting decent attendance. If you do not already know what you are looking for, your odds of finding it are pretty slim or you are in for a lot of surfing.

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