I started blogging thirteen years ago, as of last Tuesday. What’s changed?

Blogging was not about writing articles then. Blog posts, usually pretty short, often referenced what others were writing. So much so that a ‘trackback’ feature displayed on your post the posts from other blogs which linked back to your post.

By referencing what others were writing we were having a conversation. The conversation was often between people with niche expertise. As such, there was a lot of collaboration and learning taking place.

In my case I was learning from other bloggers what this blogging thing was all about. By reading, networking and writing I was learning an awful lot. Enough so to establish myself as a person of some knowledge when it came to blogging for lawyers.

People watching this dialogue among those viewed as thought leaders could identify trusted and reliable authorities, perhaps a professional who could help them in a time of need.

People, whether they blogged or not, got to know bloggers and learned to trust them.

With sharing, citing (linking) and dialogue, the focus was not on content marketing to demonstrate how smart you were. The focus was not on distributing your content in an effort to garner traffic to your blog and ultimately your web site.

People hired legal bloggers as their lawyer because they were viewed as trusted and reliable authorities as a result of being “in the discussion,” not because people were attracted to a website by those measuring subscribers and web traffic.

Bloggers were givers, not takers. The goal was not to draw attention to ourselves. The goal was to share with others what we were reading on the web, offering our thoughts on why we shared what we did. We often added our insight.

Thus the term, “blog,” an abbreviation of the term “weblog,” which described the activity of logging one’s activity on the web.

There were also bloggers as a source, as Dave Winer, perhaps the founder of blogging and publisher of Scripting News , characterizes bloggers. Bloggers were intelligence agents on niches reporting on what was not otherwise reported by the mainstream media.

Others were sources in the form of intelligence agents by finding and “funneling” relevant items for others. Dave Donoghue, who’s published Chicago IP Litigation for a decade, is such an example by cherry picking cases from the federal district and appellate courts and summarizing them for others.

Bloggers tended to be driven by individuals. We got to know bloggers, even those covering things professionally, as people. We cited bloggers. Today we have group blogs by law firms where five lawyers are listed as “the bloggers” on a two paragraph post.

Blogging was our only voice to the world. There was no Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. When I wanted to invite folks to join me for beers when on the road (Beer for Bloggers), I did so on my blog.

When we wanted to discuss someone’s blog post other than on our own blog, we commented on their  blog. Law blogs, other than those who really offered opinion and commentary, never generated a lot of comments, but comments are now virtually nonexistent. Discussion of blog posts, if it takes place at all, is on other social media today.

Perhaps the biggest difference was the personality shown by bloggers. Look at this picture of Perry Mason with the caption, “Hmm, I should have a blog” which ran on my blog for its first 6 months. IMG_0544

I cleaned things up a bit when I started LexBlog in early 2004, but you get the point.

Here’s to the next thirteen years.

  • I try not to be the old curmudgeon ranting about the good old days, but I do think something has been lost in the transition to social media. It consumes time and attention, but it rarely has any depth and it never leaves anything with permanence. More often than not, it’s just preaching to the choir, with whatever issues developed left solely to the memory of those present.

    Someone told me today that my blog had been cited in the materials at an ABA seminar that was just held. On a whim, I tossed my blog’s domain name into WestLaw. It showed 47 citations in law reviews: http://www.litigationandtrial.com/files/2016/11/LitigationAndTrial-Citations.pdf If my blog was a law review, it’d be in the top half of law reviews for citations.

    Lawyers are writers and writers need to write and to be read.

    If that sounds stupid and obvious, it’s because it is stupid and obvious — the question is why more lawyers don’t act on it.