Muller On Mixed Lawprof Blogs
Eric Muller has a nice post today discussing the future of blogs that mix law with more personal material. He doubts Larry Solum’s thesis that these mixed blogs will ultimately fade away. (Solum suggests that mixed blogs will be taken less seriously by academic administrators, and will thus receive little support.) Muller also notes that “highly successful “mixed” lawprof bloggers all blog from, and to a readership primarily on, the political right.”
I think that there is an important place for mixed blogs. I don’t personally sit down to read blogs with the same mindset that I approach the newest issue of the Yale Law Journal. When I’m reading blogs, I usually have set aside less time and I’m sometimes multi-tasking. If I come upon a particularly thick or thoughtful post, I often make a mental note to return later when I can fully focus. This doesn’t mean that I only get something out of breezy posts. But I like to read my blogs like a newspaper – mixing up more serious stories with lighter fare. Even the Wall Street Journal offers some pop culture candy with their otherwise serious menu. Does that make people take the WSJ less seriously?
As for why law profs blog, and thus the future of mixed blogs, I think that getting scholarship credit is only part of the story. There is the pleasure of writing in a more colloquial style. There is the benefit of having other scholars actually read your ideas, albeit briefly. And there are the happy faces of law school administrators who discover that blogs can do more to promote a law school than than a truckload of glossy mailings. When you enter the academy, you often think that your job is to write and teach. But as many deans will explain, the law school benefits most of all when you are “out there” – at conferences, meetings, and, yes, on the web. Blogging may not get you tenure. But it may get you a lot of good karma with the powers that be.