March 22, 2013
Supreme Court Action: Permits Under the Clean Water Act
The final case from yesterday’s batch of Supreme Court opinions is Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center (11-338). The case concerns the interpretation of environmental statutes and regulations as to whether logging companies require permits for storm runoff water discharged from logging roads into navigable rivers and streams. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires permits for discharges from “point sources.” The Environmental Protection Agency implemented the Silvicultural Rule defining which type of categories are point sources:
"Silvicultural point source means any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance related to rock crushing, gravel washing, log sorting, or log storage facilities which are operated in connection with silvicultural activities and from which pollutants are discharged into waters of the United States. The term does not include non-point source silvicultural activities such as nursery operations, site preparation, reforestation and subsequent cultural treatment, thinning, prescribed burning, pest and fire control, harvesting operations, surface drainage, or road construction and maintenance from which there is natural runoff." 40 CFR §122.27(b)(1).
Georgia-Pacific West has a contract with the State of Oregon to harvest timber from a state forest and uses roads to transport logs. The Northwest Environmental Defense Center sued Georgia-Pacific under the citizen lawsuit provision of the CWA alleging that Georgia-Pacific required a runoff permit for storm water discharges from the roads it used to transport logs. The CWA exempts the need for permits for storm water discharges except in circumstances where a discharge is “associated with industrial activity.” Another EPA rule, the Industrial Stormwater Rule, defines that term:
“the discharge from any conveyance that is used for collecting and conveying storm water and that is directly related to manufacturing, processing or raw materials storage areas at an industrial plant. The term does not include discharges from facilities or activities excluded from the NPDES program under this part 122. For the categories of industries identified in this section, the term includes, but is not limited to, storm water discharges from . . . immediate access roads and rail lines used or traveled by carriers of raw materials, manufactured products, waste material, or by-products used or created by the facility . . . .” 40 CFR §122.26(b)(14) (2006).
The District Court dismissed NEDC’s suit for failure to state a claim, interpreting the EPA rules as not requiring a permit. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the discharges were from point sources and not exempt from the permit scheme. The Supreme Court reversed. It considered the jurisdiction questions as a threshold for the suit and said the District Court could entertain the suit. It also noted that the EPA issued a revised the Industrial Stormwater Rule shorty before Supreme Court oral argument in response to the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. The Court stated that the EPA’s interpretation of the rule was reasonable, and as such it should receive deference. The revised regulation was consistent with past iterations of the rule. Thus the textual changes did not alter the Court’s deference to the EPA’s conclusion that a permit was not required. The Court further noted that Oregon has its own regulatory scheme which was consistent with the EPA requirements.Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Scalia joined only Parts I and II the majority opinion. He filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part as well. Chief Justice Roberts filed a concurring opinion which was joined by Justice Alito. Justice Breyer did not take part in the case. [MG]
Sign of the Times?
If enacted Texas HB 1989 would allow service of process via Facebook and that would be a first in the U.S. Bradley Shear warns "the biggest problem with service via social media is authentication. Even though a digital account may appear to belong to a litigant in a judicial proceeding, account authentication is required to ensure that the account belongs to the right person." [JH]
Friday Fun: The Constitution's Preamble
By School House Rock! [JH]
March 21, 2013
Supreme Court Action: Class Action Jurisdiction and State Medicare Liens
The Supreme Court issued one other opinion on Tuesday when they announced the Kirtsaeng case. The second case is Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles (11-1450). That case involves whether a nominal plaintiff in a class action can bind a class with a stipulation on the amount in controversy. The answer depends on whether the case can be heard in federal or state court. Knowles filed a proposed class action in Arkansas state court against Standard on issues related to homeowner’s insurance. He stipulated at the time that the amount the class would seek is less than $5 million. Standard removed the case to federal court. The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) gives federal court jurisdiction over class actions in amounts over $5 million. The District Court remanded the case back to state court because of the stipulation even though the Court found that the damages amount would exceed $5 million absent the stipulation. The Eight Circuit declined to hear the appeal.
The Supreme Court reversed the District Court, holding that a stipulation at the pre-class certification stage binds no one in the class. The Court said that stipulations are indeed binding on the parties who make them. At the same time, the stipulation in these circumstances is merely contingent at this stage. The District Court Judge has the power to consider the amount in controversy as if the stipulation was non-binding. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
There were two cases decided on Wednesday. The first of these is Wos v. E.M.A. (12-98). The Court considered the anti-lien provision of the federal Medicaid statute as it conflicted with a North Carolina statute that requires up to one-third of any recovery by a beneficiary for tortious injuries to be given to the State as reimbursement. E.M.A was born with serious birth injuries and North Carolina paid part of her care through the state Medicaid program. Her case was settled for $2.8 million. The state judge placed one-third of the judgment in escrow under the North Carolina statute. E.M.A. sought relief in federal district court that the escrow was in conflict with the federal anti-lien provision. The District Court judge agreed with North Carolina precedent that the lien and its amount were reasonable. The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding the ruling conflicted with the statute and Supreme Court precedent.
The Supreme Court held the federal statute pre-empts North Carolina’s recovery statute. The Court said that under its precedent in Arkansas Dept. of Health and Human Servs. v. Ahlborn, 547 U. S. 268, 284, the federal statute set a floor and ceiling for state recovery of expenses. The figure of one-third of the recovery is arbitrary as it could take part of the recovery that was not designated for medical expenses paid by the State. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court and was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, Sotomayor, And Kagan. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas.
I’ll file a post on the second case from Wednesday, Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, on Friday. [MG]
A Belated "happy birthday to you", Mark Giangrande
LLB's long-time co-editor, Mark Giangrande, turned 60++ on March 16th (or is it +++?). Here's a music video clip of one of Mark's favorite bands. [JH]
Top 25 Law Schools Whose Grads Earn the Highest Starting Salaries in the Private Sector
For its ranking of law school schools whose graduates earned the most in the early stages of their private sector career, Forbes turned to Payscale. According to Jacquelyn Smith's The Law Schools Whose Grads Earn the Biggest Paychecks:
Payscale combed through the profiles of its 35 million unique users who supply compensation information on its website to find which law school grads make the most. They looked at starting salaries of graduates from 98 popular law schools and found roughly 31,000 of them in their database who had reported salary information, including 9,100 working in the private sector with less than five years of experience.
With that methological insight in mind, Payscale's reported salary data are "current median salaries (as of the first quarter of 2013) for recent law school graduates who in almost all cases finished law school within the last five years. The median work experience for this group is two years, and their median age is 29." Smith's article lists the top ten schools ranked by starting median pay and includes mid-career medium pay in the private sector. No surprises; all are elite law schools. But if you take the time to view the entire Top 25 law schools here, you may find a couple of surprises. For example:
Forbes Ranked 21: University of San Francisco School of Law (US News 2014 Ranked 144)
Starting Median Pay (Private Sector): $81,600
Mid-Career Median Pay (Private Sector): $150,000
Forbes Ranked 23. Santa Clara University School of Law (US News 2014 Ranked 96)
Starting Median Pay (Private Sector): $80,700
Mid-Career Median Pay (Private Sector): $189,000
Hat tip to Staci Zaretsky's The Best Law Schools For Getting Rich Quick (ATL). [JH]
ATL Survey: What factors do you believe ought to be included (and ignored) in a hypothetical new, improved approach to ranking law schools?See Brian Dalton's ATL post, What Would a More Relevant Law School Ranking Look Like? You Tell Us, for background on the issues and a link to the brief survey questionnaire. [JH]
March 20, 2013
Opposing CISPA This Week
A coalition of Internet advocacy organizations and individuals launched a week of action to lobby against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), HR 624, yesterday. Participating organizations listed by EFF include ALA and ARL. For details on how to participate, see Stop CISPA: A Week of Action to Oppose Broad Cybersecurity Legislation. See also EFF's analysis at CISPA, the Privacy-Invading Cybersecurity Spying Bill, is Back in Congress.
While not currently listed as participating in the week-long campaign by EFF -- the list is being "updated on a daily basis throughout the week" -- AALL has stated its concerns about CISPA in a formal statement here. [JH]
Sunlight Foundation Evaluates Online Public Access to Legislative Information for All 50 States and the District of Columbia
During Sunshine Week last week the Sunlight Foundation released a "transparency report card" that graded how accessible state legislative information was available online to the public. "Most state legislatures are generally behind the technological curve, and that has negative implications for government oversight," wrote Gabriela Schneider in Editorial Memo: How to Improve State Legislatures’ Transparency. She added:
To their credit, many states have embraced the web for decades and do disclose legislative data, but their technological progress has stalled. At the same time, a cottage industry of expensive pay-services has sprouted to make state legislative data more useful to those who can afford it.
James Turk explains that the transparency report card is a byproduct of the work performed to produce Open States. [LLB post] He identifies the six criteria used to evaluation each state: completeness, timeliness, ease of access, machine readability, use of commonly owned standards and permanence. For more about the methodology, see Open States: Transparency Report Card.
To view your state's grade, check out the Sunlight Foundation's first but hopefully not last Transparency Report Card. [JH]
Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare
The Tallinn Manual (Cambridge UP, 2013) has no official standing but as an advisory manual it may be an important reference work for military attorneys grappling with cyber attacks. In Rules of cyberwar: don't target nuclear plants or hospitals, says Nato manual, Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent for The Guardian writes:
The handbook, written by 20 legal experts working in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the US Cyber Command, says full-scale wars could be triggered by online attacks on computer systems. It also states that so-called "hacktivists" who participate in online attacks during a war can be legitimate targets even though they are civilians.
From the Cambridge UP blurb:
Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare
The Tallinn Manual identifies the international law applicable to cyber warfare and sets out ninety-five 'black-letter rules' governing such conflicts. It addresses topics including sovereignty, State responsibility, the jus ad bellum, international humanitarian law, and the law of neutrality. An extensive commentary accompanies each rule, which sets forth the rule's basis in treaty and customary law, explains how the group of experts interpreted applicable norms in the cyber context, and outlines any disagreements within the group as to each rule's application.
March 19, 2013
Supreme Court Action: Kirtsaeng Case Holds First Sale Doctrine Applies to Foreign Made Books
The Supreme Court decided Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (11-697) this morning. The case concerned the application of the first sale doctrine to books and other materials manufactured outside of the United States. Supap Kirtsaeng imported Wiley’s textbooks manufactured in Thailand and resold them in the United States. Wiley sold the same textbook at a much higher price. Wiley asserted rights under §602(a) and §106 of the Copyright Act which gave exclusive rights to the publisher and allowed controls on the importation of those foreign made goods. Kirtsaeng argued that the first sale doctrine codified in §109 altered those rights. The District Court would not let him assert the first sale doctrine as a defense as it concluded the doctrine did not apply to foreign made goods. The Second Circuit affirmed that decision.
The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the doctrine does indeed apply to foreign manufactured goods. The Court examined words of the statute, “lawfully made under this title,” and concluded that there was no geographic limitation on the application of the statute. Other courts have adopted the geographical limitations on the application of the Copyright Act, though the Court said a common sense reading of the statutory text belies that:
In our view, §109(a)’s language, its context, and the common-law history of the “first sale” doctrine, taken together, favor a non-geographical interpretation. We also doubt that Congress would have intended to create the practical copyright-related harms with which a geographical interpretation would threaten ordinary scholarly, artistic, commercial, and consumer activities. See Part II– D, infra. We consequently conclude that Kirtsaeng’s nongeographical reading is the better reading of the Act.
The Court examined the dictionary meanings of the words, the history of the Copyright Act, the historical development of the first sale doctrine and concluded that Congress did not have geography in mind when it wrote the present version of the Act.
The Court specifically mentions the possibility that libraries may be restricted in loaning books that were manufactured outside of the United States, per the American Libraries Association brief. Other amici raised similar issues for foreign-made goods with microchips containing copyrighted code embedded in them. The Court noted that while there haven’t been harms to consumers so far, that could change if the decision went in favor of Wiley. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Ginsburg dissented and was joined by Justices Kennedy and Scalia. Justice Scalia declined to join Parts III and V-B-1 of the dissent ostensibly because those parts referred to legislative history.
I’ll have more to say about this decision in the next day. For further information, read my LLB posts The Deeper Implications Of The Pending Kirtsaeng Case and The Kirtsaeng Oral Argument. [MG]
Lobbying for More Than Just UELMA
We all know the intent behind UELMA. Authentication, preservation and permanent public accessibility to the most basic state-level digital primary legal resources, namely "state constitutions, session laws, codified laws, and administrative rules with the effect of law" by state actors designated as "official publishers” to carry out the provisions of the Act in those instances where state governments are delivering such legal materials in electronic formats. After that it is game on because UELMA does not affect any contractual relationship between an official state publisher and a commercial publisher, nor does it affect copyright claims.
Is UELMA flawed because of what it leaves unaffected? Of course not. The Uniform Laws Commission could not venture into contract and copyright laws. However, as folks lobby for UELMA adoption (current status available on the ULA site see also AALL's 2013 bill tracking report) they may want to take a look at what is happening in California.
California was the second state to adopt UELMA. SB 1075 was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on September 13, 2012. If my always faulty memory isn't up to its usual tricks, I believe the Act takes effect in 2015. However state copyright claims and state publishing contracts with a commercial vendor remain an issue.
Lobbying for Creative Commons licensing in addition to UELMA. Recently California Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-42nd Dist.) tossed AB 292 into the bill hopper. It calls for applying a Creative Commons License to the California Code of Regulations to allow any individual, at no cost, to use, distribute, and create derivative works based on the material for either commercial or noncommercial purposes because the California Office of Administrative Law holds an exclusive copyright on the CCR. I doubt Assemblyman Nestande would mind if I republish his office's press release in full. So here it is:
The agency responsible for reviewing and approving new regulations, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL,) holds an exclusive copyright over regulations that are created with taxpayer dollars. All taxpayers already fund the activities of government, including the creation of new regulations. Restricting access to these regulations requires taxpayers to pay twice for the same government activity. Because all taxpayers are bound by the law, businesses are compelled to pay for complete access to the regulations that bind them. The cost of purchasing access to the regulations can vary from $30 to more than $3,000, depending on what sections of regulations are needed.
AB 292 will provide that the full text of the California Code of Regulations shall have an open access creative commons attribution license, allowing any individual, at no cost, to use, distribute and create derivative works based on the material for either commercial or noncommercial purposes.
While OAL is required to post a copy of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) on its Web site, it makes this version prohibitively difficult to navigate, and restricts access with the following restriction: “no part of this Web site may be reproduced, duplicated, copied, downloaded, stored, further transmitted, disseminated, transferred, or otherwise exploited without Thomson Reuters’ prior written consent.” These restrictions require businesses to purchase complete access from Thomson Reuters, from which OAL derives a share of the profits.
When the Legislature enhances the profitably of an activity, it incentivizes that activity. By allowing OAL to profit from access to taxpayer funded activities, the Legislature is inherently making a statement that California needs more regulations. By giving a profit motive to approve regulations, it incentivizes the approval of more regulations.
Allowing OAL to profit from the sale of access to the regulations it has the authority to approve creates an inherent conflict of interest. OAL currently uses its proprietary copyright to issue an exclusive license to Thomson Reuters in exchange for a $400,000 annual license fee and 7% of all royalties. As more businesses are covered by new regulations, more businesses need to purchase access to those regulations from Thomson, and OAL derives a larger profit. This makes it difficult to be truly objective when approving new regulations, if it directly benefits from expanding the state’s regulatory burden.
Due to the restrictions OAL sets forth on access to state regulations, search engines such as Google cannot legally access and index the CCR. In addition, developers cannot create user-friendly applications for smartphones and tablets that would allow the public to easily access, manipulate, and share regulations. This in turn can limit innovation and transparency.
Additionally, because of these restrictions to the CCR no individual can legally reproduce the text of a regulation. This prevents covered entities from freely sharing and discussing new regulations. Even a petition to repeal a regulation would violate OAL’s copyright if it quotes from the text of that regulation. This hindering of political speech is counter to an open and transparent government.
Finally, access to statutes and regulations should be consistent across all of California government. Unlike OAL’s copyright over administrative law, the Legislature holds no copyright over the laws it creates. Legislative Counsel covers the cost of making laws and is available to every taxpayer because this is a proper and legitimate role of government.
By making the CCR free and readily available to the public, we are creating a more transparent government and easing the burden on businesses that must purchase access to the regulations that bind them.
In those instances where states claim copyright ownership of primary legal resources, UELMA lobbyists might want to look to AB 292 for model language to include or at least submit as companion legislation. Such language should also eliminate any commerical publisher's copyright claims to section heading texts in codifications of otherwise public domain primary legal resources if created by the publisher. This way any individual could at no cost easily use, distribute, and create derivative works based on the material for either commercial or noncommercial purposes.
End note: Granted potential separation of powers issues abound but I would push further for Creative Commons licensing of state publications. For example the Ohio Judicial Conference, an independent statutory entity within the judicial branch of government, claims copyright ownership for Ohio Jury Instructions. Lexis has the contract to publish OJI in print. List price is a whopping $544. Compare that to other state agency authored pattern jury instructions pricing.
Granted Lexis OJI includes some editorial enhancements -- "explanatory Committee Notes, references to Ohio Revised Code sections, cases and other materials for your own research," is updated at no small expense, and even includes a CD (not yet, if ever, to be replaced by a "free" eBook). But for a print version, Lexis OJI is the only game in the Buckeye State.
For online distribution of OJI, the Ohio Judicial Conference currently limits licensing to three vendors. At the moment they are Lexis, West and Casemaker. Why not more? To create a bidding war? Isn't it time to stop an "independent statutory entity within the judicial branch of government" from milking this cash cow?
I have no doubt that watchdogs in other states can find similiar examples at many, if not most, branches of state government. [JH]
Reminder: Registration for AALL's eBook Webinar Due by March 21
Sue Polanka is presenting an AALL sponsored webinar on eBooks. Note well that registration is due by Thursday, March 21st.
E-books: Opportunities, Obstacles, and Trends
Date: Wednesday, March, 27, 2013
Time: 11 A.M. (Central Time)
Fee: AALL Members - $30; Non-AALL Members - $60;
Site Registration (one per physical location) $150
Register by March 21
E-books are a moving target, presenting many opportunities – and obstacles. Wherever you are in the e-books evolution, do you know how to move forward? Are there best practices for the future? Please join e-books expert Sue Polanka, a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, award-winning e-books blogger, and columnist for a discussion on the growth, challenges, and trends of the e-book industry. Topics to be discussed include licensing and managing content across locations, business models and their impact on access and budgets, locally hosting versus proprietary platforms, and managing content in a mobile environment. Get a jump start (and a leap ahead) into the ever-changing world of e-books.
Program participants will:
• Explore different business models and degrees of accessibility
• Examine budgeting for collection building versus access-only materials
• Compare locally hosted content with content on proprietary platforms
• Determine criteria for evaluating e-book vendors
• Gain tips and ideas for moving forward with your own e-book offerings
March 18, 2013
Court Rules Gag Provisions On NSL Letters Unconstitutional, Enjoins Their Issue
Judge Susan Illston of the District Court for the Northern District of California declared unconstitutional parts of the statutes that authorize NSL letters and the requirement that the recipient stay silent about them. The case comes from a challenge to the FBI’s authority in a letter sent to an unnamed telecommunications company. The Electronic Frontier Foundation helped in representing the petitioner.
Judge Illston reviewed Supreme Court precedent on prior restraint issues and the case of John Doe, Inc. v. Mukasey, 549 F.3d 861 (2d Cir. 2008). In that case, the Second Circuit found violations of the First Amendment but interpreted the circumstances of the case along with the language of the statute essentially maintain the status quo. Judge Illston was having none of it, concluding “that the NSL provisions suffer from significant constitutional defects which cannot be remedied in this forum.” She enjoined the Government from issuing NSLs and enforcing the nondisclosure provisions in this or any other case. The order was stayed for 90 days to give the Government time to appeal to the Ninth Circuit. That is almost guaranteed.
Google and Open Source Feeds: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
There's more going on than Google just eliminating Reader. For example, TechCruch reports that Google has killed its RSS subscription extension for Chrome. And then there is Feedburner. Google acquired the RSS/Atom feed management company in June 2007 for $100 million. Pocket change for Google. TechCrunch's Frederic Lardinois writes:
I always assumed Google would keep Feedburner on life support for as long as it could, but the fact that they are shutting down Reader shows that they are willing to make these unpopular moves and close products that form the basis of a larger ecosystem (I’m sure the teams at Reeder, Feedly and other Google Reader-based services are scrambling right now). I can’t imagine that Feedburner will live through many more of these spring cleanings given that it is Google’s last RSS-focused product that’s still standing.
For more, see his post, The Google Reader Shutdown Is Yet Another Nail In Feedburner’s Coffin (NB: TechCrunch's own feeds use Feedburner's feed management system.)
By far, the best article I have read about the strategic business changes underway at Google is Felix Salmon's Did Google just kill RSS? (Reuters think piece; hat tip to Mark's post) Salmon closes his analysis and commentary with some thoughts about RSS (let's add Atom):
RSS has been dying for years — that’s why Google killed Reader. It was a lovely open format; it has sadly been replaced with proprietary feeds like the ones we get from Twitter and Facebook. That’s not an improvement, but it is reality. Google, with Reader, was really providing the life-support mechanism for RSS. Once Reader is gone, I fear that RSS won’t last much longer.
Others have a more optimistic outlook. Some view the demise of Reader as reinvigorating innovation and competition in open source feed desktop apps and sync platforms. Only time will tell. [JH]
One, Use Google Reader? Two, Think the Company Cares? Three, Want to Sign Change.org's Keep Google Reader Running Petition?
1. I don't. 2. I have my doubts. 3. I did sign Change.org's Keep Google Reader Running Petition which has over 120,000 supporters.
Here's the text:
A few years ago -- years, wow -- Google Reader was one of my go-to social networks. It was an accidental one. I was using it for its intended purpose -- aggregating and reading a lot of web content in one place -- but it turns out, a lot of other people were doing the same thing. A lot. Many of which shared interests and when you added the amazing (amazing!) share and comment features, Google Reader blossomed into a wonderful experience for many of us, core to our day-to-day consumption of content online.
Unfortunately, you decided to kill those "extra" functions. I'm not here to ask you to reverse that (you should, though). In doing so, Google Reader's day-to-day value declined, and I, like many, ended up using it less often. Instead of hitting the bookmarklet I have on my Chrome install three, four times a day, it's now a once a day (okay, once every other day more often, recently) experience.
But it's still a core part of my Internet use. And of the many, many others who are signed below.
Our confidence in Google's other products -- Gmail, YouTube, and yes, even Plus -- requires that we trust you in respecting how and why we use your other products. This isn't just about our data in Reader. This is about us using your product because we love it, because it makes our lives better, and because we trust you not to nuke it.
So, please don't destroy that trust. You're a huge corporation, with a market cap which rivals the GDP of nations. You're able to dedicate 20% of your time to products which may never seen the light of day. You experiment in self-driving cars and really cool eyewear which we trust (trust!) you'll use in a manner respectful to our needs, interests, etc.
Show us you care.
Don't kill Google Reader.
In addition to links provided in Mark's post:
For commentary, see also Rupert Goodwins' Killing Google Reader is like killing the bees: we'll all be worse off (The Guardian's Technology Blog) He observes that while Google Reader's user population may have been on the low side, many professionals in the content creation business relied on it for current awareness. Web journalist Laura Hazard Owen is one of them, Google Reader, please don’t go — I need you to do my job (paidContent).
For Google Reader alternations, see also Christina Warren's post on Mashable. Do note her words of caution:
Our only fear with recommending some of these services is the long-term viability of these platforms. ... After being burned by Google Reader, it's hard to trust that these other services will be around for the long haul.