Friday, August 04, 2006

Is the Economist's analysis of economists who blog also true of law professors who blog? I have no idea

Here is an article from the Economist this week on economists who blog. Is this also true of law professors who blog? I haven't the faintest idea, but wish I did.

Part of what I do on a blog is just plain old self-promotion. The last four posts I put up are all drawn from a new essay I just finished, and I'd like to get it around more widely than it would get merely published in some law review. I don't really know who reads this blog, or how many of the readers care about academic stuff, but I figure it can't hurt to let people know the draft is available at SSRN. (Here, by the way. Everyone should read it. Your children should read it. Excellent bedtime story. Instant soporific. Your life will not be complete without it. Did I say you can download it here?)

I also really like the idea of open source legal scholarship, and blogs help contribute to that. Not everyone has access to Westlaw or Lexis - some people because it's too expensive and others because they live far away and others because they aren't legal scholars. All those people are important target audiences for my weird, not necessarily traditional legal scholarship work. A blog helps me connect with that audience, even just a little bit. Just as legal scholars essentially construct their own "law review" of sources for each project, each search, they conduct - who looks at the table of contents for a law review anymore? - a weirdly interdisciplinary scholar like me seeks to construct an interdisciplinary audience, one that includes people from different fields, disciplines, places in the world, and many of whom are not scholars at all. A blog helps, however slightly, in putting together that audience.

(Although, as I've noted before, a review of the site meter statistics for this blog suggests it has a high readership among undergraduates looking for term paper help and, quite possibly, term papers.)

Ultimately, legal scholars who really want to connect with an audience via a blog do best by banding together - group blogs are better value for time spent as far as most readers are concerned. The group helps create a discussion and a debate, an online community. Individual blogs like mine tend to be more like a scrapbook, whatever crosses my mind from moment to moment. And a certain amount of entertaining myself in the intellectual downtime.

1 comment:

Mark G. said...

I agree with you that ideally the group blog approach may be best. But it brings its own problems, what with some authors being far more engaged than others, and other authors having divergent ideas concerning the blog's focus, style, etc.

In the Civil War neck of the blogosphere we've stumbled upon an alternative. We now have a constellation of about 20 blogs. Most are individually maintained, but they regularly interact with one another. It strikes a nice balance between the freedom of the individual blog and the synergy of the group blog.