September 16, 2005
Chicago Discovers Blogging
Posted by Gordon Smith

The University of Chicago Law School has always been a place with institutional chutzpah, so I am not surprised that Dean Saul Levmore thinks that the Law School can take this blogging thing to the next level. In his annual letter to alumni, Dean Levmore writes:

Several of our faculty are experimenting with "blogs," which is to say thoughts, or journals, made available on the internet. We intend to expand these blogs in order to communicate ideas -- and see them improved with readers' responses.

I love it when non-bloggers write about blogging. This sounds almost like science fiction: "thoughts ... made available on the internet." And there is that familiar Chicago chutzpah: "We intend to expand these blogs ... and see them improved." We intend to expand them? Yes, the Law School is moving into blogging:

Our plan is to experiment with a faculty blog, perhaps by asking a different faculty member to post some thoughts for a one- or two-week period before turning over the lead to a colleague. This point-person would ensure that there is frequent new material on our Law School blog, but ideally other faculty members would regularly post as well, so that we might have a kind of public Roundtable.

This is the "improved" blog? It sounds more like a half-baked marketing gimmick. [Well, that wasn't very nice. For second thoughts, see footnote 5 below.]

If a University of Chicago Law School blog is a good idea, why doesn't it happen spontaneously? The costs of entry into blogging are very low, so experimentation is easy, and the faculty already includes a number of experienced bloggers.

The underlying assumption of the project is that blogging is a mere extension of other activities that faculty are already good at: writing books and articles, giving lectures, making comments at scholarly presentations, etc. Although there may be some connection between these activities and blogging, good blogging is different from scholarly writing, and I am doubtful that any faculty could produce an interesting blog with people doing serial stints of one or two weeks.

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