Have you ever been conducting Internet research, ventured into the reader comments that accompanied a perfectly ordinary article or blog, and been shocked at the level of incivility exhibited by some readers? I’m not referring to pointless, silly, off-topic, dissenting comments (or the ever-present spam), but rather the kind of comments that make you cringe and suddenly regret wasting your time by spending it in the company of so much litter. Such comments are especially jarring when embedded in an otherwise engaging and generally thoughtful discussion. Some readers, apparently empowered by anonymity and with too much time on their hands, feel compelled to use online comments to vent their innermost hatred for, well, pretty much anything. It’s not new, but it is a disappointing trend that detracts from what otherwise serves as a productive forum for sharing information and opinions; one that is often helpful to researchers. As a result, many online publications have stopped allowing comments, appointed moderators, or now require readers to register before posting comments. Despite all the noise, I still value the occasional comment that leads to a great resource or an elusive answer. The rest just keeps boredom at bay.
Bar association Web sites often provide resources for free to the public (members get access to even more). The American Bar Association offers free podcasts and audio recordings in the multimedia section of ABANow, the Web site of the ABA’s media relations division. A lot of the material is promotional, but I like this podcast on one of the hottest topics in ethics right now, social media use by lawyers, entitled Beyond the Ethics of Web 2.0—What’s Now, What’s Next, What If. Download the podcast here, or listen to the recording on your computer.