Earlier this week, many of my colleagues at UM mentioned that they had heard I would be speaking here — more than ever noticed my participation any four more meaty conferences of your choice. Is it the trendiness of the topic, or the quality of the pre-conference publicity?
Brian Leiter explains why he stayed home: although invited, “I was too busy and … I didn’t really want to attend a conference on what strikes me as a topic of no intellectual interest.” Personally, I wouldn’t put it quite that harshly.
And I find the complacent elitism of this comment irritating:
The other main limitation of blogs as forums for serious scholarly debate … is that only a minuscule number of first-rate legal scholars in any field actually blog on scholarly topics; indeed, if you subtract the Chicago faculty blog and Balkinization, “miniscule” may overstate the number of leading lights in their fields who blog in their areas of scholarly expertise (you can probably count the remainder on one hand).
This seems to me to be wrong on two levels. First, in some fields, IP for example, many of the leading figures are bloggers. Second, why should one assume that the traditional measure of worth is the right one? Why not celebrate the possibility that new tools and methods of communication might allow new voices to come forward to prominence? That said, I have to admit that there is yet to be much evidence (at least among law professors) that blogs have done much to subvert, rather than reproduce or reinforce the existing hierarchies.
And I do have the feeling that there’s a lot of brain power here being focused on … less than one might wish. None of which means it’s not a fun event, or interesting in various ways. It’s nice to see old friends. It’s good to put faces to names. And it’s been entertaining to see that, at least in this crowd, there are a number of people who are far more obsessed with blogging…
Of the conference papers I’ve read so far, the ones I would recommend most strongly are Larry Solum, Electronic Paper Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship and Orin Kerr, Blogs and the Legal Academy. But I haven’t had a chance to read them all yet.
[PS. Note to my lunch companions. Among other things, this post is an empirical test of certain claims made at lunch.]