Category Archives: Blogs and Bloggers

New on the mediation web: return of the king, launch of Werner Institute ADRhub

New on the ADR webAt its annual spring meeting, the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution honored premier ADR and negotiation web site Mediate.com as the institutional recipient of the prestigious Lawyer as Problem Solver Award. In a moving acceptance speech, tinged with equal parts humor, reminiscence, and gratitude to supporters, Mediate.com co-founder Jim Melamed described the changes to the mediation field he has witnessed since the launch of this site and how technology has transformed the quality and degree of conversation among professionals, scholars, and consumers of ADR. (You can listen to Jim’s classy speech on Youtube.)

Joining (or in one case, rejoining) this vibrant conversation are two contributors I am pleased to welcome.

Internationally respected New Zealand commercial mediator, barrister, educator, and writer Geoff Sharp, one of the very best of the ADR bloggers, has returned to the blogosphere with a brand-new web site. Geoff’s Mediation Cubed Blog offers the mediator, educator and student the best thinking that scholarship and praxis can offer. This membership-only site is created exclusively for the mediation community to ensure that those who join are serious participants; registration is required. (This sounds daunting, but don’t let that deter you. I’m sure if you ask Geoff nicely he’ll allow you to sign up.)

ADR practitioner Jeff Thompson, a co-host of ADR podcast series Cafe Mediate, and author of the blog Enjoy Mediation, is the creative genius behind ADRhub, the Werner Institute’s ADR portal. Open to “academics, practitioners, scholars, professionals, students, ‘newbies’ and those interested in getting involved in the field“, ADRhub offers its members web events, news, online chat, job and event postings, and much, much more. Joining is free, in the best spirit of ADR. This promises to be a great place to hang out, and I look forward to meeting up with you there.

Photo credit: Jakub Krechowicz.

New blog, Eye on Conflict, keeps dispute resolution in its sights

Eye on Conflict is the latest addition to ADRblogs.com, the world catalog of blogs about dispute resolution, negotiation, and collaborative approaches to problem solving.

Published by L.A.-based commercial mediator and “Talk It Over Radio” host Lee Jay Berman, Eye on Conflict explores ADR and negotiation, using today’s headlines as a rich source of inspiration, from the recent tragedy at Sea World to the Pink Floyd/IMI dispute. Berman’s most recent post (as of today) pays touching tribute to mediation pioneer Richard Millen who recently passed away.

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Lee Jay Berman and Eye on Conflict to the ADR blogosphere.

Women bloggers proclaim National Women's History Month

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Settle It Now Negotiation Blog, Mediation Channel, and the Blogs of all other women who are making and recording the history of the United States of America every working day, that March is designated as Women’s History Month. Every woman blogger and every male blogger whose life has been enriched by the presence of women in it is requested to issue a proclamation each March, calling upon their fellow bloggers to observe March as Women’s History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

This resolution, calling upon “the people of the United States to observe March as Women’s History Month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities” was passed by Congress in 1987 and successive years since then.  For more information about the origin of National Women’s History Month, or the activities of the National Women’s History Project, visit the National Women’s History Project.

This blog is celebrating National Women’s History Month by drawing attention to a series of posts on implicit gender bias in ADR.  The first two posts are written by me, and the subsequent five by my colleague, commercial mediator and author Victoria Pynchon:

Victoria Pynchon’s series on gender and bias:

Blog responsibly: a public service reminder for dispute resolution bloggers

I’ve been blogging about dispute resolution for over 5 years now. When I first launched my blog, you could count ADR blogs in single digits. You can still find these early adopters online – folks like my predecessors, blogging role models Bill Warters, Colin Rule, and Tammy Lenski – who continue to produce worthwhile content.

Slowly at first, then more steadily, our numbers grew. I soon began tracking them, eventually launching ADRblogs.com, which catalogs blogs from around the globe, organizing them by country and by topic. I’ve been serving as the unofficial taxonomist of the dispute resolution blogosphere since June 2006. ADRblogs.com today lists over 230 blogs from 31 countries, all discussing conflict resolution, negotiation, or various forms of ADR.

During 5 years of blogging and almost 4 years of tracking blogs, I’ve seen ADR bloggers come and go. Some, like Geoff Sharp’s iconoclastic Mediator Blah…Blah…, which flared and burned brightly for far too short a time, I miss a great deal. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which ones will have staying power, and which ones will quietly (and deservedly) fade into obscurity.

Which do you want your blog to be? If the former, it’s pretty simple. There are really only three things you need to remember:

  1. Create good content.
  2. Be social.
  3. Don’t plagiarize.

I will amplify on each briefly:

1. Create good content.

Write about what you love and know well. Share information useful to your audience. Make your readers think, change their minds, or even laugh. Don’t just copy and paste content or news you found elsewhere; tell your readers what you think about it. Be of help.

2. Be social.

I’ve said this before: ADR is fundamentally about conversation. So is blogging. If you, an ADR professional who blogs, aren’t going to link to other blogs and participate in the conversation online, why are you blogging? My old friend Geoff Sharp in an email to me once called it “the paradox of blogging” – you confidently send readers away to other sites to encourage them to return. If you want your blog to sink below the surface of search engine results, then don’t link. It’s that simple. By the way, linking is just one way to converse – remember to comment on other blogs. Contribute to the discussion.

3. Don’t plagiarize.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but unfortunately some folks are still not getting the message. If you use another blogger’s content as a source or inspiration for your writing, give them credit by a) naming the blogger; b) identifying their blog; and c) linking back to their post. Do not pass off someone else’s content or ideas as your own. The best ADR bloggers I know care about their writing, putting time, thought, energy, and, yes, heart into their posts. For me personally, blogging is an expression of my identity as lawyer, mediator, and writer; it is my own voice speaking out of these ones and zeros. Use your own voice, please, when you blog, not someone else’s. (While ADR bloggers are generally nice folks, some of us won’t hesitate to use our BATNA: filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act infringement notification.)

Looking for role models? The following are but a few examples of bloggers who make the ADR blogosphere a great neighborhood to hang out in, consistently honoring these principles:

By the way, in the spirit of neighborliness, allow me to extend a very warm welcome to these promising new additions to ADRblogs.com:

Beware of the app: a warning to ADR bloggers and their readers on Facebook

Numerous news articles and blog posts have commented on the dark side of Facebook – its disregard for users’ privacy, the opportunities it affords for cyberbullying, and its vulnerability to spam, phishing exploits and malware.

I’d like to alert my readers, particularly those of you who blog, about a Facebook trap to avoid.

I regularly check search engines for mention of me or my blog, something that all of us should do routinely, not as an exercise in egotism but as good business sense, as my colleague Tammy Lenski has written.

During a search yesterday on Google I learned that Mediation Channel was listed as one of the “NetworkedBlogs on Facebook“. I clicked on the page to learn more, since I hadn’t requested the listing. A link on the page read “Pending confirmation. Help us confirm the author.” When I clicked on the link, the following choices appeared:

How do you like to verify ownership of ‘Mediation Channel’?
- Ask friends to verify you (easy, but takes a little time)

- Use our widget to verify ownership (instant, but some technical skills required)

Hmmm. Sites that enable you to claim ownership of your blog -– for example Google Analytics, which analyzes web traffic — typically require you to enter a specific snippet of code on your site, something only you as the site owner with administrative access would be able to do. It’s the sensible and secure way to confirm blog ownership.

The NetworkedBlogs app on Facebook, on the other hand, amazingly allows anybody to verify that they own a blog, whether they actually own the blog or not, by asking a handful of their Facebook friends to vouch for them. Basically anyone could claim ownership of my blog, or yours, for purposes of NetworkedBlogs on Facebook. That’s just nuts.

How nuts? Very: I decided to test what would happen if I asked a Facebook friend to verify. I clicked on “Ask friends to verify”, and then, when my friends’ profile pictures appeared, I selected my dog’s Facebook profile (yes, he has one – doesn’t yours?). My dog is a good sport in that way and a willing participant in these kinds of web experiments.

NetworkedBlogs promptly sent my dog an email asking him to verify that I own Mediation Channel. In order for my dog to confirm or deny that I own my blog, he had to allow NetworkedBlogs access to his account, something I don’t think he particularly wanted to do. (Unless it’s an app that involves bacon or chasing squirrels, he’s just not interested.)

This is wrong in so many ways. Let’s consider them:

  • Unscrupulous people with the assistance of unobservant or equally unscrupulous friends could claim your blog on Facebook.
  • Anyone, even if they’re a dog, can verify ownership of a blog in the wacky world that NetworkedBlogs inhabits.
  • If you ask your friends for help in verifying ownership of your blog, you’re asking them to allow an app they probably don’t want have access to their accounts – which seems awfully unkind to your friends.

If you decide to go the widget route, you should know that NetworkedBlogs does not believe in hidden code or discreet badges. You will be presented with a choice between two wincingly hideous and ginormous widgets to stick in your sidebar to prove you have administrative access to your blog.

NetworkedBlogs describes itself as an app that allows you to “[p]romote your blog on Facebook and to discover new blogs… Join the fun, add your blog, and connect with others who read and write about subjects you like.” Join the fun? I don’t think so.

On the internet, NetworkedBlogs neither knows nor seems to care that you’re a dog. This is one app to avoid on principle – and avoid inflicting on your Facebook friends.

The editorial staff of Mediation Channel confirms that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.

What makes a great mediator? 2nd episode of Cafe Mediate podcast series has answers

In the second episode of ADR podcast series Cafe Mediate, conflict resolution and ADR marketing expert Tammy Lenski, London-based international business mediator Amanda Bucklow, New York City detective and conflict resolution professional Jeff Thompson, and I sit down together to consider the question, “What makes a great mediator?”.

This lively transatlantic conversation focused on the qualities that distinguish the effective practitioner. Listening to these seasoned colleagues left me inspired and thinking how fortunate I am to be able to count these talented conflict resolvers as my friends – thanks to Tammy, Amanda, and Jeff for such a thought-provoking discussion.

Each month ADR podcast series Cafe Mediate (motto: “where conversation, not caffeine, is the stimulant”), will feature conversation among ADR practitioners about topics relevant to the business, practice, and future of our field.

Future editions will explore issues such as certification and professionalization; debunking ADR myths; and training and education of mediators. I hope you’ll tune in. In the meantime, click here to learn more about “what makes a great mediator“.

Mediation Channel celebrates 5 years of blogging

This past Sunday my blog turned 5.

Two years ago I explained what blogging means to me. Those words still ring true:

It is the collegiality, the friendships that have sprung up across geographic distances. It is the pleasure of mutual discovery, of interests shared. It is the sparks struck and the ideas that ignite when viewpoints collide.

And so it remains.

Thank you so very much, readers, for your support – thanks to those of you who’ve been there since early days and to those of you who’ve just tuned in. I’m sure looking forward to continuing this conversation.

Cafe Mediate: 1st episode in new ADR podcast series covers value billing

Cafe MediateCafe Mediate is the latest brainchild of mediation marketing and conflict resolution expert Tammy Lenski, who publishes two popular blogs, Conflict Zen and Making Mediation Your Day Job. Cafe Mediate (motto: “where conversation not caffeine is the stimulant”), a new monthly podcast series, will feature lively discussion among ADR professionals about topics relevant to practitioners, from the pragmatic to the provocative.

The inaugural session just aired. This transatlantic conversation brought together me, Tammy, and international business mediator Amanda Bucklow, who is based in England and blogs at the top-drawer Mediation Times, to talk about an issue of great interest to conflict resolution professionals: value billing.

Listen in to the podcast at “Value-based fees in the mediation and ADR world“.  If you use an RSS reader (for further instructions, see this video Tammy helpfully created), you can subscribe to alerts at CafeMediate’s main page.

Thanks to Tammy for inviting me to join in and to the extraordinary Amanda as well – I enjoyed the conversation and am already looking forward to the next one.

Mediation Channel named as 2009 ABA top 100 law blog

ABA Journal Blawg 100What an honor to learn that the American Bar Association Journal selected Mediation Channel as an “ABA Journal Blawg 100” – one of the 100 best legal blogs in 2009 – garnering a spot under the “Practice Specific” category.

Readers are invited to vote for their favorites in each of 10 categories. If you’d like to show your support for Mediation Channel, cast your vote here. Thanks so much, readers. The ballot box closes on December 31.

Only connect: the advantages of reading or writing blogs for the ADR professional

The joys of reading and writing blogs for the ADR professionalFour times each year, the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution publishes Dispute Resolution Magazine, covering trends and news that affect ADR practitioners and scholars. An article I wrote about blogging appeared in the Summer 2009 issue. The folks on the magazine’s editorial board have kindly given me permission to upload it to share it here with you.

This article, “Only Connect: The Impact of Blogging on the Field of ADR“, describes how blogging has changed the way ADR professionals do business, share and debate ideas, and build meaningful personal connections across (and despite) time zones.

Here’s an excerpt:

In his 2006 book Conversation: A History of a Declining Art, author Stephen Miller evoked a golden age of discourse that England enjoyed in the 18th century. The seat of that renaissance of conversation was the coffeehouse, where wit and aphorism flourished. Men gathered to warm themselves with a dish of coffee, transact business, gather news, enjoy the latest gossip, and of course converse.

Although the British coffeehouse has largely faded from public memory, a spiritual descendant has emerged possessing many of its ancestor’s most distinctive attributes: the blog. Like its 18th century predecessor, the blog is simultaneously marketplace, library, and public square, with a wealth of views and ideas clamoring for consideration, attracting businesspeople, scholars, thinkers, writers, celebrities, and ordinary citizens.

ADR professionals and scholars perhaps would have felt at home in the 18th-century coffeehouse. We and the coffeehouse share similar virtues: ours is a field that promotes and pursues the exchange of ideas and information. It is fundamentally about conversation. And, like England in the 18th century, the ADR field is enjoying its own renaissance in discourse, one that flowers lushly online, thanks to the phenomenon of blogging, drawn to its capacity for bringing people and fresh thinking together…

For ADR bloggers and our readers, the phenomenon of blogging has dramatically affected us and the way we practice in three key areas: the business of ADR, the dissemination and discussion of information and ideas, and professional networking. I invite you to explore them with me…

The article also names some essential blogs to follow. Space constrained me, preventing me from adding all that I would. Here’s a far more comprehensive list of 24 outstanding alternative dispute resolution blogs to read regularly.