Blog as a Bugged Water Cooler
10 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2006
Date Written: April 27, 2006
This essay is prepared for a symposium Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship, held at Harvard Law School on April 27, 2006. It makes three brief points. First, before we ask whether blogs are transforming legal scholarship, we need to put things in perspective. When compared to the impact of other recent developments (availability of data, influx of Ph.D's into the legal academy, long-distance co-authorship, internationalization of legal scholarship and faculties, shift of practitioner-oriented writing to practitioner authors, and so forth), the impact of blogging looks rather pale.
Second, I address a popular argument that blogs, like water cooler conversations, affect legal scholarship in many indirect yet important ways - by creating forums for early-stage work. I suggest that blogs are more accurately analogized to bugged water coolers (gathering places that are clearly and openly outfitted with powerful microphones) and ask how the availability of a bugged water cooler may change legal scholarship.
Finally, I argue that a successful forum for early ideas must have one of the two properties: privacy or well-specified rules punishing the silence of participants. Bugged water coolers have neither and thus are not likely to succeed in transforming legal scholarship.
Keywords: blog, scholarship
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