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Blogs, Blogging, Blawging, and the New Scholar

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3 Responses

  1. Doug B. says:

    Rick: I indirectly answer many of these questions in this piece on blogging and scholarhsip: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=898174

  2. Frank says:

    1. Why blog?:

    First, I am trying to get down research notes for future projects. It’s important to me to write something every day, and blogging gives me a chance to do that. Even if most of the posts don’t end up being published in a longer work, they at least focus me on something that is (I hope) of lasting interest. Second, the blog allows one to call attention to exemplarily good or bad academic work in law and the social sciences. We live in an era of information overload, and good blogs ideally filter it. Finally, blogging lets a professor keep in touch with various parts of the legal community. You have an audience who can give you fascinating perspectives on your teaching and writing.

    With many eyes, all bugs are shallow. Similarly, if a commenter calls me out for a bad argument, I can drop it or reconsider it eventually.

    2. Structure of day: No, blogging happens in the margins, usually inspired by reading something provocative.

    3: Blogs read: I follow about 100; I have SAGE readers on Firefox at home and work. If the first few sentences catch my attention, I’ll read a post. The only thing I read consistently, every day, is bookforum.com; not necessarily all the articles he links to, but I find at least one or two each day that are great.

    4: Maximizing pageviews: I really try not to think about this. To me, the whole joy of the blogosphere is that you are not pressured to keep to some formula of audience maximization that a profit-driven MSM must conform to.

  3. Why do you blog?

    Why not? It’s a fun way to stay engaged with current events and get instant feedback on my ideas and scholarship.

    I’ve also had some interesting online exchanges with Richard Epstein, William Stuntz, and others. I’ve had exchanges with others before in various scholarly papers, but the blogging exchanges have allowed for more immediate back-and-forth.

    How do you structure your day to include time for blogging?

    Good question. I don’t. I just blog whenever I get the itch. And I’ve figured out that the only way that Frank Pasquale can blog so much is that he secretly has a team of 100 staffers working for him.

    If you post as frequently as Althouse or Leiter (and there are a lot of you out there), how do you find time to anything else?

    I recall that somebody once said: “You can get a blog, or you can get a life.”

    How many blogs do you read and do you use a feed?

    Yes, I use a feed, but I also visit a number of my favorite blogs as well. I read about 10-20 blogs with regularity; and another 20-40 blogs on occasion.

    What is the connection between your scholarship and your blogging? Do you workshop new and quarter-baked ideas on your blog? Or do you keep potential article ideas away from the blog?

    I often blog about my scholarship both before and after. Several of my blog posts about online shaming and gossip became fodder for my book, The Future of Reputation, and some blog posts on data mining and the balance between liberty and security were worked into my forthcoming article, Data Mining and the Security-Liberty Debate, 74 U. Chicago Law Review (forthcoming 2008).

    After my scholarship comes out, I often like to blog about it. For example, I’ve responded to several book reviews and blog commentary about The Future of Reputation. I responded to Ann Bartow’s critique in Pennumbra of my article, A Taxonomy of Privacy.

    I also like being able to write short book reviews, such as this critique of Richard Posner’s Not a Suicide Pact and my recent review of Lawrence Friedman’s Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets.

    I often blog about topics and issues that I plan to write about at some point. I rarely telegraph that I plan to write a paper about a particular topic, but I do blog about issues that I’m intending to write about in the future.

    When thinking about blog posts, do you consider whether they will generate more page views or comments?

    I rarely blog about something because I think it will get page views. But I do think that there are different ways to write any particular blog post that might generate greater interest and comments. If I write a short provocative blog post that poses a question, it typically (though not always) will generate more comments than a lengthy expository blog post that doesn’t pose a question. Humor almost always generates more attention.

    I try not to let concern over audience response influence the topics I blog about, but I will try to write posts in a style that will be engaging to my audience.