December 02, 2009
Bloggership Redux
Posted by Gordon Smith

Orin Kerr is rethinking blogging as scholarship. Orin and I were on that same panel at the Harvard Bloggership Conference a few years ago. He argued that blogs were not well suited to contribute to the scholarly debate, and I disagreed (see "A Case Study in Bloggership"). Orin thinks "the legal academic culture has changed [in that] legal blogs have become an acknowledged and accepted part of the world of legal scholarship." While I agree that blogs are being cited more often in law review articles than they used to be, this does not seem to me like a fundamental change in circumstances, but rather a fulfillment of the promise of academic blogging.

Orin believes that "advances in the technology widely used by legal bloggers have facilitated the changes," and he is particularly interested in the role of comments. VC gets a lot more comments than we get here, and I suspect that informs our different perspectives, but I just don't see comments as the driving force behind bloggership. As noted in my essay linked above, we were doing citable work on The Conglomerate way back when, and I suspect that the change in citation rates has more to do with the fact that more law professors are blogging, and we are blogging more often about law. See Christine's post about this phenomenon. Christine was actually longing for the old days:

Back then, we used our blogs for rants, raves, reviews, and ramblings.  Grammar pet peeves, funny things in faculty meetings, annoying airline ticket representatives -- all bloggable.  Now, we have Facebook and Twitter.  And now I walk around all day thinking "will that make a catchy status update?"  So, I rant and rave on Facebook/Twitter, and not so much here.

Steve Bainbridge has a very similar perspective:  

I ... believe that blogging about corporate law and governance can be a useful companion to my scholarship. On the other hand, I'd be bored to tears by a blog that was only about corporate law. So, as I've said before, I like mixed blogging. Mixed blogging is recreational.... It's a hobby.... Mixed blogging is fun. But is it scholarship?

Some of it. And I like it that way, too.

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