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Networks of blogs may be the future of legal publishing

November 17, 2007

Jeff Jarvis has an interesting post on how Glam, primarily a network of women’s blogs a year and half old, has overtaken decade old iVillage, which has always been the largest women’s site in the U.S.

Jeff explains how:

Glam finds the good blogs and creates a relationship. It features good content from them on Glam and also sells ads on the blogs, sharing revenue with and supporting those bloggers. It now has about 400 publishers creating about 600 sites…some mak[ing] multiple six figures a year……

So Glam is a content network. But they don’t create all the content. They curate it. So we should curate more as we create less. That’s another way to say what I’ve said other ways: Do what we do best and link to the rest .

Glam supports its network by selling advertising across the entire blog network. By providing such a platform Glam encourages others to produce more.

Jeff also discusses another blog network I’ve been following, ScienceBlogs. ScienceBlogs is self described as a community of 40 selected science bloggers, set up as an experiment in scientific communication.

The science bloggers do not have independent blogs in the sense of their own design, name and url ala lawyers on the LexBlog network. Their blogs are on the ScienceBlogs designed template and platform. But again it’s ads being sold across the network of blogs that generate significant revenue for scientist bloggers.

LexBlog is launching a daily review of law blogs and journals called LexMonitor. So a network of high quality lawyer blogs is something I give a lot of though to.

Good law content on carefully defined niches in the law is being produced faster than people can consume it. Even sophisticated users of RSS feeds and newsreaders are challenged, let alone the vast majority of the public that remains at a loss when told they can subscribe to blogs, searches, and tags. Aggregating such content into an environment with editorial controls and community rewards may allow the masses to make meaningful use of such legal content.

In addition, taking on the large legal publishers such as LexisNexis and Thomson West as well as law review publishers requires a strong business model. Legal blog publishers certainly enhance their reputations as authorities through blogging. But it may not be enough to encourage them to produce more. Plus, with an independent source of revenue, legal scholarship could be produced by non practicing lawyers and law professors. Tasteful advertising across a network of legal blogs that passed editorial muster may strengthen the business model.

Interesting that Glam was driven by the question, WWGD? (what would Google do?) Google earns about 30% of its revenues from O&O sites (owned and operated by Google) per Samir Arora, CEO of Glam. The majority of Google’s revenue is derived from advertising on non Google O&O’s. Glam earns about 30 percent of its revenues through its O&Os.

Legal publishers like LexisNexis appear to distrust Google and its business model of indexing content, making it freely available and surround it with advertising. As Steve Matthews and others know I’ve been opposed to advertising on lawyer blogs, but perhaps there’s an opportunity for new media legal publishers. Not to get rich off others’ legal content, but to support an open and vibrant community of legal blog publishers.

I welcome your thoughts.

Note: Michael Arrington argues that Jarvis’ post is misplaced Glam exuberance. I’m not arguing Web 2.0 silly valuations for a legal blog network, just that it’s an interesting concept worth following.
Update: Jeff Jarvis’ Glam redux at the UK’s Guardian, ‘To grow into the future media need a group hug.’

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