The Harvard Bloggership Conference in a Nutshell
I have returned from the bloggership conference at Harvard Law School. This conference has already been blogged about (big surprise), with Ann Althouse and Larry Solum live-blogging it and Michael Froomkin, in grand meta fashion, blogging about those blogging about the conference.
I thought I’d contribute to all this blogging by translating the conference into “blog” (the punchy to-the-point language of blogging). You can get everything you need to know about the conference from this post — absolutely free of charge. It’s as if you had gone to the conference yourself — only better, because I’ve saved you hours of time and engaged in extensive analysis to bring you the key points. [Warning: The summaries below are caricatures. Plenty of more serious commentary about the conference has already been done -- see the links above and below.]
Paul Caron: “Who are we? Why are we here?” Answer: we’re bloggers, and we’re great. [And we're here because of the free grub at Harvard.]
Doug Berman: Blogging brings us to the people; it is less hierarchical than normal scholarship — and it’s fun.
Larry Solum: Blogs are short, open source, and without mediation.
Kate Litvak: Blogging is akin to a “bugged water cooler” conversation; we should get a grip because blogging ain’t that revolutionary.
Paul Butler: The blog “is slapping legal scholarship in the face” and it brings power to the people.
Jim Lindgren: Why should we want to know whether blogging is scholarship?
Ellen Podgor: Everybody is right.
Gail Heriot: Blogging is fun and makes the academy less cloistered; 40% of law review articles never get cited — not even by their own authors — ouch!
Orin Kerr: The problem with blogs is tyranny — yes, tyranny — which is the result of the fact blogs are in reverse chronological order rather than focused around the best and most lasting posts.
Gordon Smith: Blogs connect you into the network.
Randy Barnett: Blogging can seduce you away from scholarship [don't be seduced to the dark side young Skywalker], but blogging can help advertise your stuff.
Michael Froomkin: We should blog more about law review articles we like. [But can we find enough?]
More below the fold.
Glenn Reynolds: Bloggers are not likely to be sued for libel [because they're mostly poor schmos], but that might change.
Eugene Volokh: Many laws protect free speech above and beyond the First Amendment.
Eric Goldman: Bloggers should be afraid . . . very afraid — co-bloggers can be liable for each other’s posts. [In other words, don't trust your co-bloggers -- got that Kaimi, Dave, and Dan?]
Besty Malloy: The law must do a better job protecting anonymous speech.
Daniel Solove: We have a romantic conception of the blogger, envisioning someone like Eugene Volokh, when many bloggers may be more akin to Jessica Cutler who blogged about her sex life. [Solove had so many profound things to say, but unfortunately, I wasn't paying much attention.]
Larry Ribstein: Blogging can help you be a public intellectual.
Ann Althouse: Stop asking questions; stop making rules; just blog.
Christine Hurt: Blogging without tenure has some risks, but they are outweighed by the great benefits, such as networking and getting known in the academy. [You might not get tenure, but you'll know a lot of people with tenure who will feel sympathy for you.]
Howard Bashman: Blogs are great publicity.
Peter Lattman: Journalists read and learn from blogs.
Charles Nesson: Ok, get the hell out of here and crawl back into your caves. . .
And that’s a wrap. It was great to meet bloggers in person rather than in pixel. It was an interesting conference, although there were no paradigm-altering insights. Nobody is prepared to give up writing law review articles in lieu of blogging, although Orin Kerr resolved to write only 18 articles per year rather than 20 to make time for his blogging.
Basically, here’s what we learned:
1. Law review articles are long; blog posts are short.
2. Blogging is fun.
3. Blogging can be scholarly, except when it’s not.
Conference papers are here.
UPDATE: Beyond the live blogging linked to above, there are a lot of good recaps about the conference sprouting up around the blogosphere. If you want a more serious discussion about what people said (beyond my silly caricatures), be sure to check out Roger Alford’s terrific compendium of quotable quotes; Doug Berman’s historical reflections on the conference; Eric Goldman’s thoughtful recap; Orin Kerr’s reply to Larry Solum’s critique of his talk; Tim Armstrong’s very detailed summary of the conference presentations; and Michael Froomkin’s comprehensive collection of links to discussions about the conference.
Finally, I want to note that in all seriousness, this was a terrific and interesting conference. Paul Caron deserves a round of applause for bringing us together to reflect upon the role of blogs in legal scholarship. It is definitely very worthwhile to take time to think about what we have been doing and how we should be blogging in the days to come.