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Ambient information as a goad to better practices in law departments

Many in-house counsel procrastinate when it’s time to do some administrative tasks that they dislike, such as to submit timesheets, review invoices, complete evaluation forms, or enter status updates into matter management systems. Prodded by an e-mail alert, they can ignore it amidst the flood of other emails. Pop-ups on calendars spur no action. Policies online, no matter how strict and clear, fail. But if you unleash the power of “ambient information,” lawyers may be much more likely to act.

According to Wired, Aug. 2007 at 54 ambient-information techniques try to “combat data overload by moving information off computer screens and into the world around us.” One of the devices is known as the Ambient Orb, a small ball that changes color in sync with incoming data. It would glow red on the lawyer’s desk when the lawyer is late for some task.

Studies have shown that people are much more likely to act on a subtle but continuously present message than an intermittent one. Here is an entrepreneurial opportunity (See my post of Sept. 22, 2006 on other money-making ideas in this blog.).