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Will the surge in legal blogs be noise drowning out the signal?

With the recent LexisNexis survey signaling a coming surge in the number of law blogs, there’s been much discussion this week as to what will become of the valuable online legal commentary and dialogue we experience from law blogs.

Media consultant and attorney, Bob Ambrogi, expects law blogs offering little value to come and go as they have in the past. Lawyers publishing such blogs will quickly lose their excitement to do so.

New York City criminal lawyer, Scott Greenfield, offered his take again this morning.

If the blawgosphere is turned into a massive and fruitless marketing initiative by over-moneyed and under-mindful law firms, big, small or solo, it’s conceivable that the noise will drown out the signal, turning off those who might otherwise be inclined to spend some time here. Nobody wants a channel showing only commercials.

There is room for new blawgs. There will always be room for great blawgs, assuming the blawgosphere isn’t crushed under a pile of crap.

To which New York plaintiff’s trial lawyer, Eric Turkewitz, replied in a comment to Greenfield:

Nah. You will never see them, as they will be islands unto themselves. Those that fail to engage others will be lost, and since engagement is counterintuitive to marketing (You want me to send my readers away?!), the vast majority will simply be pixels known only to their “writers.”

The discussion reminded me of a post earlier this summer from Gideon Gartner, founder of Gartner, Inc., the information technology research and advisory company, as to whether social networking may be bad for your health.

What might have once been called ‘intellectual networking’ seems to have been displaced by today’s ‘social networking.’ During my years living on our planet, ideas often led to deep thinking, discussions, and of course, arguments. I would often analyze these later, attempting to reach useful conclusions. But these days, a flood of brief spoken or published ideas, stated with little or no supporting evidence and followed by inane ‘comments’ from seemingly random observers with little or no stature, threaten my productivity.

If this is what we call ‘social networking’ (SN), the rapidly growing popular trend, I fear for our future. With the entire world seemingly jumping on the SN bandwagon, this may soon overwhelm us, impacting productivity to the point where society is threatened. Neal Gabler, the author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, has recently said that social networking is drowning us in information, as we have little time (or desire) to process it! Many other intellectuals, while still a minority, have reached similar conclusions, that social networking is drowning us in information, as we have little time (or desire) to process it.

SN has contributed to books being read less and less. We are too busy linking to Facebook and Twitter; LinkedIn may have marginally greater merit; Google+ is still untested and blogging continues to crowd out responsible journalists. Authors themselves may be trending towards posting rather than going through the agonizing process of book-writing, especially when publishing volume is contracting. All in all, books and magazines which are addressing the world’s social networking issues are mostly supportive as they capitalize on the rapidly growing base of social networking addicts and fans.

I am not as pessimistic as Gartner, at least as it pertains to law blogs. Law blogs are advancing legal dialogue.

Rather than limiting legal publishing to academics writing for law school law reviews and the handful of lawyers who clear the gates to write for the major legal publishers, blogs have opened the door for practicing lawyers with niche expertise to share their practical insight and commentary.

Other social media, whether it be Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, enables amplification of the deeper blogged commentary. These social media also allow greater engagement between legal bloggers so to build and nurture relationships among legal bloggers.

Legal blogging benefits the legal profession as well as the public at large. Both have greater access to the law through insight and commentary they could never have experienced before.

With the good number of law blogs we have and the surge in the number of law blogs coming we’re of course going to see a significant number of law blogs that contribute little, if anything, to legal dialogue. They’ll amount to little more than noise.

But the body of valuable legal information, insight, and commentary is unquestionably going to grow. Not only will we benefit as we do today from reading and writing blogs, but we’ll benefit in years to come from tapping into this knowledge via technology that is still evolving.

  • http://blog.simplejustice.us shg

    “Legal” blogging, in itself, benefits no one. Good legal blogging is another matter. It’s a critical distinction that needs to be stated.

  • http://www.clarkstonlegal.com Timoth Flynn

    There is always room for quality blog content. Most lawyers will not take the time to post regularly. Other voices will be shouting, “purchase my message” and will be ignored as yet another chunk of self-promotion polluting the Internet.
    It is axiomatic that a glut of lawyers will, eventually, lead to a proliferation of blawgs. Like any activity, the trick is to be that voice that exudes the high quality “give”.

  • Eric T.

    The reason most so-called blogs suck is that the writers aren’t doing it foremost for the enjoyment of writing and interacting with others, but for reasons of marketing and SEO-spamming.
    I bet, if you did a poll of long-time bloggers, you would find that a great many were already engaging in internet forums of some kind because they enjoyed it. Then they morphed to their blogs.