Law bloggers may stop blogging and law bloggers are, of course, going to die. But there is no reason their blog should not live on.
The question of what happens to a law blog over time arose yesterday when leading legal tech blogger and attorney, Bob Ambrogi mentioned on Facebook that someone just asked him if he had a succession plan for his blog. Not that his demise is imminent.
Attorney Carolyn Elefant, also a prominent law blogger responded that she often wonders where old blogs go to die.
Does the content float around forever? Does it just stop? Or by that time will there be bots that will be writing posts in our respective styles for eternity.
Law blogs needn’t go anywhere. They’ll remain “on the shelf” much like content in books, law reviews or archived periodicals do.
Of course, we’re talking blogs where lawyers offer information, insight and commentary. A national and international dialogue advancing the law at a faster clip than ever before. A dialogue that’s been democratized by not requiring admission to law review or submission to legal publishers acting as intermediaries.
We’re not talking something called a “blog” whose sole purpose is search engine optimization (SEO) to draw traffic to a website and often penned by ghostwriters who are not lawyers. Those “blogs” will go to the national archive for lame advertising, which already holds thirty-five years of law firm yellow page ads.
There is of course the hosting and maintenance cost of archiving law blogs, but that will be negligible in time. I could see LexBlog indexing all law blog content at some point. We’re already “storing” blog content for firms who are canceling blogs or suspending publishing on a particular blog for a time.
It wouldn’t surprise me if LexisNexis and/or Thomson Reuters were already archiving law blog content via the content they are collecting on RSS feeds from the blogs. The Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the World Wide Web enables one to find all websites from 1996 forward.
Look at Google Books, a service that searches the full text of books and magazines so that knowledge is available to everyone. Google scanned (without consent of the publisher), converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), and stored in its database all of this content.
Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig says:
[Google Books] could be the most important contribution to the spread of knowledge since Jefferson dreamed of national libraries. It is an astonishing opportunity to revive our cultural past, and make it accessible.
Look to Google Scholar as another example of archived knowledge. A freely accessible search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature across an array of disciplines. Google Scholar includes most peer-reviewed online academic journals and books, conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents.
Knowledge advances through writing, research and dialogue. Law blogs play a big role in this. There is probably more legal commentary on food safety law, bitcoin law, privacy law, China law, FMLA law, CFPB law and countless other areas of the law on blogs than with traditional legal publishers whose content is locked in libraries and behind paywalls.
Don’t look at the need to use existing blog designs when archiving. We’re just talking text and any media included in a post.
We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in publishing technology, curation, user interfaces for consuming content and artificial intelligence. Where things will be, even five or seven years from now, is anyone’s guess. But the archiving of today’s knowledge so as to be seamlessly retrieved in the years ahead should not be a big undertaking.
The World Wide Web, and the Internet in general, is a collection of dialogue and information. It’s arguably our body of knowledge over the last fifteen or twenty years. Sure, there will be cynics who dismiss the web, blogs and social networks as lot of junk, but we’ll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Good law blogs will be included in the wheat and live on in legal knowledge.