The Right Coast

March 20, 2006
National Law Journal article on law prof blogging
By Tom Smith

Interesting article. (Hattip to JPC.) Of course, one cannot let go unchallenged Prof. Litvak's remark that blogging "has nothing to do with scholarship," further proof, if any is needed, that one should never say silly things to a reporter. It has lots to do with scholarship. The only question is, can one list ten things it has to do with scholarship in less than 120 seconds. So . . .

1. gives you a chance to try out new ideas and get criticisms fast
2. helps you break down writer's block
3. raises your profile so people will actually download and read your articles, see Barnett, Leiter, many other examples
4. gives you a chance to write things and clarify your own ideas. You may discover in writing you have less or more to say than you thought.
5. gets people to send you emails on stuff you should read
6. for some people like Dick Posner, they blog as fast as they write articles anyway so why not just blog and let the rest of us enjoy their insights faster
7. sometimes what you have to say will fit in a longish post but is still very much worth saying, so why bother to dress it up with a bunch of stupid footnotes, which are mostly for the benefit of students who are not the intended audience anywayl.
8. many more people read blogs than law review articles anyway. 40 percent of law review articles go completely unread; if your blog is unread you can quit without wasting so much time
9. A lot of so called scholarship is inferior to a lot of blogging. When Volokh posts something on the first amendment or Bainbridge says something about boards of directors they are drawing on a deep well of knowledge that comes out in the post. They create a public good much more valuable than another article by someone who will know less than they do even after months of research
10. Lots of people much more distinguished than Litvak blog and do think it has 'something to do' with scholarship.
11 . in case 10 doesn't really count, blogging is a conversation, which brings network effects to bear on the usual marketplace of legal ideas at a much faster time scale. Blogging is efficient!

(typed but not proofed.)

OK, I took more than 120 seconds, but I was typing fast and continuously, with no pausing for cogitation. How many reasons can you come up with that blogging has "something to do with" legal scholarship? Remember, no pausing to think.