Are Modern Bloggers Following in the Footsteps of Publius? (And Other Musings on Blogging by Legal Scholars...)
Gail L. Heriot
University of San Diego School of Law
Berkman Center for Internet & Society - Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship Conference
San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-50
I don't think it's particularly useful to ask whether blogging by legal academics constitutes legal scholarship. That's quibbling over a term. What's important is whether this is an activity that law schools ought to encourage their faculty to engage in. Because it facilitates what I call the public intellectual model of the legal scholar, I tend to favor blogging. For a long time many legal scholars have been writing mainly for each other about ideas whose bearing on the issues of the day is tenuous at best. Scholarship that has no audience outside those who produce is more often than not bad scholarship. There is a need for someone in the legal academy to write about contemporary legal issues in a style that is accessible to the general public (or at least to the legal profession) and that brings to bear some of the genuinely useful insights that modern legal scholarship has produced. Other mass media - television, radio, newspapers, and magazines - have proven inadequate to the task. The blogosphere is the first medium that permits an informal and yet sophisticated discussion of legal issues and holds out the potential for directly affecting the public debate. At the same time, I feel uncomfortable writing an essay that endorses blogging too enthusiastically. Is it possible that I'm having so much fun blogging that I am fooling myself about its importance? It's hard to judge when you're a tenured academic who is permitted to do whatever she thinks is best. We're an over-indulged breed.
Date posted: April 21, 2006
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