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June 19, 2013

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Anna Ivey

Thanks for the shout-out. If you found volume 3 interesting, check out volumes 1 and 2, where we also did some out-loud brainstorming in the Introductions about the role of legal blogging, and why we choose to showcase the best of the best in the Journal of Law (in its sub-journal The Post, in particular). All available online here:

http://journaloflaw.us/5%20The%20Post/The%20Post%20home.html

By the way, the Journal of Law is an all-volunteer labor of love. If you come across excellent legal blog posts that you'd like to nominate for consideration, please send them to us at post@annaivey.com. We're eager to showcase a range of legal disciplines and views.

Orin Kerr

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." -- Yogi Berra

shg

Are you asking about law blogs or law professor blogs? They are not the same.

Shag from Brookline

A variation on Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "Old lawyers never die, they just blog away."

Glenn Cohen

Congrats to Michelle as well!

Jonathan H. Adler

Relevant to what? Some blogs clearly influence broader discussions about legal education. Some blogs are cited by courts. Some influence broader public debates about law and policy. Etc.

Jacqueline Lipton

Maybe we should all be tweeting instead. Or is that outmoded too?

Seriously, though, I blog about stuff I wouldn't necessarily write scholarship about. And much of what law profs blog about is related to the profession and teaching etc, and not things we're necessarily going to publish in law review articles.

So I'm not sure the exact point of the question. I know in the early days of law prof blogs there was concern that profs would be blogging rather than writing scholarship, but that didn't pan out. What other forums are there for geographically dispersed profs to share ideas about teaching, challenges facing law schools, administrative issues etc on a regular basis? List-serves are more unwieldy, although can be useful for recent developments. And conferences can be expensive and difficult to fit into a schedule. I'm not saying blogs replace those things, but I'm happy to be able to blog and to read blogs and I can't imagine why we would think they're no longer useful or relevant.

Michelle Meyer

Thanks Al (and Glenn) for the shout out.

To Jonathan's question, Relevant to what?, I would add: To whom? and Compared to what? For instance, is law blogging (still) relevant to hiring/tenure/promotion committees? I trust not (unless -- perhaps -- you're so famous that you bring your institution acclaim through blogging). (Though the case for that isn't quite as strong as you might imagine. I have to laugh a bit at the concern that legal scholars would abandon writing law review articles for blogging. What, exactly, is the difference, except that the latter is open access, read by orders of magnitude more people, much more timely, and mercifully shorter? If the comparison were to peer-reviewed publications, that would be a different story, but alas . . . . Indeed, during a recent interview at a medical school, it became clear that law review articles would not count for tenure -- or much else.)

On the other hand, is law blogging (still) relevant to getting legal scholars' views (especially about breaking law stories) quickly aired to a larger audience (and receiving often thoughtful feedback on those views)? Absolutely. It's true that law blogs now have some competition, in different ways, from law reviews' online supplements and from Twitter. But the three have different strengths and weaknesses such that none makes the others obsolete, and in fact they often interact with each other, and with traditional writing forms, in value-adding ways.

Focusing on Twitter, on one hand, my Twitter feed is both much faster at breaking news (about, e.g., an FDA warning letter or a recent court decision) and much better tailored to my idiosyncratic needs and interests (because I can carefully curate it by deciding whom to follow) than any blog. On the other hand, 140 characters is obviously limiting. And so it's not surprising that many of my tweets and the tweets I read contain links to blog posts. The blog post that Al mentions in the OP, for instance, was inspired by a question someone posed to me on Twitter.

Another reason why Twitter, blogs, and more traditional writing continue to coexist is that they serve different sub-audiences, owing either to those sub-audience members' relative levels of (dis)comfort with the three forms or their purpose in consuming them. For instance, although I opted not to do it, I was invited to appear on HuffPoLive for a segment on Maryland v. King because their reporters/producers had seen my tweets about the case immediately after the decision was issued (faster than I was able to blog about it). They're probably especially tech savvy given the format of HuffPoLive, and they had a very short deadline, both of which may have made looking for instapunditry on Twitter a good choice for them. Given their format -- a 20-minute segment shared by the reporter/producer and 3 or 4 panelists -- the 140-character sound bites I was tweeting about the case may also have been a better indication to them of my fit for the segment than a blog post, much less a law review article, chapter, or book. On the other hand, I was interviewed about the same case by the perhaps more staid, less tech-oriented ABA Law Journal because that reporter -- who was writing his own article about the case and, presumably, had both the time and inclination to delve deeper -- had seen my blog posts, as well as a book chapter to which I had linked in them. I doubt anything I could ever have said on Twitter would have inspired him to contact me.

So it's true that competition from Twitter, law review online supplements, and other digital fora may well edge out redundant blogs/blog posts (see, e.g., http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/are-blogs-outdated-the-times-eliminates-several-and-explains-why/). But blogs continue to serve unique purposes and reach unique audiences, and those that survive the Darwinian struggle with competing media are probably the stronger (more "relevant"?) for it.

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