It’s Friday afternoon, and before the LexBlog Q & A takes its weekend recess, we’ve got to wrap up what we started yesterday: our interview with Santa Clara University School of Law professor Eric Goldman. (Before you continue, make sure to get up to speed by reading part 1).
Yesterday’s post saw Eric talking about his initial exposure to blogs; today, the discussion wraps up with his take on how law professors view the blogosphere – and how they expect it to grow in the future.
1. Rob La Gatta: When speaking to other law professors around the country, have you gotten a sense of the general attitude toward blogs held by law profs? Do you think that, as is the case with lawyers, law professors are becoming more and more willing to venture into the blogosphere?
Eric Goldman: I think many law professors are aware of blogs now. Frankly, blogs are almost impossible to avoid in our community, especially blogs that discuss and gossip about the law professor business like Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports, PrawfsBlawg, and Concurring Opinion. Given the prominence of these blogs catering to the specific informational needs of law professors, plus the rich content being generated by niche-y substantive legal blogs, I suspect that many professors now read at least one blog regularly.
Several hundred law professors are now affiliated as a co-blogger at one or more blogs, and I anticipate that number will continue to increase over time (but I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the speculation that legal blogging has reached a plateau).
Eventually, in the next few years, it wouldn’t surprise me if most law professors are affiliated with at least one blog, though many new bloggers will probably join existing blogs rather than start their own. I also expect blogging to follow a typical 80/20 rule, where 20% of the law professor bloggers will be responsible for 80% of the blogging. So many law professors will be bloggers in name only.
2. Rob La Gatta: Ultimately, where do you see blogs taking legal scholarship in the future? In 2008, what do you think will be some of the most significant developments to shape this medium, specifically with regards to legal publishing?
The law professor community is actively wrestling with (and perhaps obsessing over) these questions. At the most recent law professor annual conference (AALS in NYC), several panels broached this topic, and the topic arises perennially at that conference. Everyone wants to know the answer to these questions, but there do not appear to be easy and obvious answers.
Personally, I think blogs are an excellent complement to legal scholarship. As I mentioned, they expand our options to disseminate our ideas, and there are many bloggable ideas (what Eugene Volokh has labeled "micro-discoveries") that would not be worth publishing through other options.
I think the issue gets more complicated when discussing whether blogging can substitute for other types of scholarship. I could see blogging count as a partial substitute for some scholarship, but only a bit. In the end, I expect a law professor helping to shape the discourse will want to develop lengthy, complex and heavily sourced expositions for which blogging isn’t the best communication choice.
From a technology standpoint, I think we are just at the beginning of exploring how to use online synchronous and asynchronous communications (using blogs or otherwise) to advance the scholarly dialogue. Some interesting early examples include:
- the virtual academic junior scholar workshop run annually by The Conglomerate
- mobblogging in response to the Grokster Supreme Court opinion
- blogging of academic presentations (both in real-time and after-the-fact), often with commentary added by the blogger. See, for example, Rebecca Tushnet’s blogging of the Trademark Dilution Symposium we had on campus.
I’m excited to see how else we as academics can engage each other in productive conversations using new technologies.
Interested in hearing more? Recent LexBlog Q & A posts:
- Tom Kane [1.16.08]
- Shel Israel [1.15.08]
- Cliff Mintz [1.14.08]
- Ed Poll [1.11.08]
- Carolyn Elefant [1.10.08]
Or, see our full list of legal blog interviews.