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August 16, 2011

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Orin Kerr

I suspect Tyler's point about skillset is part of the explanation, but I would broaden it to include both skillset and interest. Blogging is a different world, and a lot of people who like the world of law review articles wouldn't like the world of blogging.

Consider the difference between writing law review articles and blogging about law. For law review articles, one article a year is considered productive. A law professor who writes one article over a year needs one big idea; often can delegate some of the research to a research assistant; often can put together a draft and show it to many people and get the benefit of comments before workshopping it; sometimes can get the benefit of workshops and more comments before submitting it; and then generally has the benefit of student editing during the publication process. There isn't much feedback once the article is published, either positive or negative.

Blogging is different. A regular blogger might post every day, or at least a few times a week. That requires a small new idea every day, or at least a few small ideas a week; it requires the author to do all the research and writing; and it requires the author to post without having anyone else look at it. Feedback is immediate, both positive and (sometimes brutally) negative.

Kim Krawiec

I suspect that you're right, Orin -- a different mindset as well as a different skillset. I think there's a testable hypothesis in there, no? Law professors who regularly blog should publish more articles and shorter articles than otherwise similar law professors who don't blog? Though I suppose it's possible to be an active law blogger who considers the law review environment so unpalatable that he or she doesn't publish at all. I guess my prediction would be that that's rare -- if you don't publish where would you get ideas about which to blog?

Orin Kerr

My guess is that if you consider the group of law professors who blog, and who were lawprofs before they blogged, that group disproportionately consists of law professors who before they started blogging tended to write a lot of articles and ones that were shorter than average.

frankcross

It's definitely a different mindset. And it may be so for many reasons. To me, blogging has to be too contemporaneous. I.e., respond to an event shortly after it happens. But I don't have a great deal of confidence in my opinions until I have done a fair amount of research and listened to various opposing arguments. That takes a good bit of time and delays any blogging.

Alfred Brophy

Yes; that's exactly what I'd say Kim! You read my mind. As I started to read your post I was thinking, "BLOGGER's DISEASE." Some people are too smart to blog. That or they have lives unlike the rest of us who're blogging from a hotel room in Lexington, Virginia at 8:30 on a Tuesday when they should be home with their family. Or, better yet, when (switching to first person now) I should be getting ready for an intense day in the archives ... reading over notes, making sure I don't have to make yet another trip.

Now, taking up the substantive point. I agree that blogging is a way to get known -- but I think it's entirely likely that one will be known for the wrong reasons (superficial analysis; light commentary and the like).

I think the procrastination piece of this needs a separate entry.

Kim Krawiec

I understand that, Frank. I struggle with the timing thing quite a bit myself. I've finally accepted that I'll simply never have reactions out as quickly as most of the other bloggers. I'll have to be content with trying to say something different, or react to their reactions, or have the good fortune to be interested in topics that others just aren't paying that much attention to, but that they're willing to read about if someone else talks about them. Happily (for me, at least) the legal blogosphere does seem willing to support a variety of styles, including those of us who are a bit slower in deciding what we want to say.

Kim Krawiec

Hah! Perhaps, not reading your mind, Al, so much as having heard you say that on several occasions.

Matt

"...blogging from a hotel room in Lexington, Virginia at 8:30 on a Tuesday"

AM or PM? (Or does that even matter in such a context?)

Stuart Buck

My guess is that if you consider the group of law professors who blog, and who were lawprofs before they blogged, that group disproportionately consists of law professors who before they started blogging tended to write a lot of articles and ones that were shorter than average.


Before Eugene started blogging, I don't know if his articles were shorter than average, but he was extremely prolific on his listservs, much more so than today. I guess that was his form of blogging back then.

Alfred Brophy

Very funny, Matt -- I think it doesn't matter if it's AM or PM. And Stuart--I remember Eugene as a very active participant on H-Law way back in the mid-1990s -- I think there's a cool blog post to be written about the intellectual origins of the Volokh conspiracy that looks back at some of his H-Law posts. How's that for turning a blog into a form of scholarship? There's even a "research agenda"!

Kim Krawiec

So, it looks like we’ve generated at least two research projects from this comments thread: (1) a publications comparison of bloggers and non-bloggers, and (2) the intellectual origins of the VC. Who’s going to take them? It’s almost enough for the start of a blogging symposium.

Jonathan Zasloff

I think that for many politically-oriented law profs, the rewards are more internal and therapeutic, i.e.:

PERSON (often my wife): Jonathan, why do you spend your time blogging?

ME: Because it beats screaming at the television when cable news is on.

Kim Krawiec

Yep. And, even for those, such as myself, whose political engagement tends to run to the "wow, we had an election?" variety, blogging can be therapeutic. Blog posts making fun of the academic life or certain personality types can be a great way to let off steam, without people even realizing you're doing it.

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