It was a dark and stormy night
Ronald Dworkin famously compared judicial interpretation of legislation to the writing of a chain novel. I recently noticed an attempt by a few blogosphere types, led by Orin Kerr, to apply the same model to legal scholarship. The combined article is being blogged; its current text reads:
Intellectual property is neither intellectual nor property. Or at least that’s what some people think; in reality, a moment’s reflection will reveal that this is completely wrong. More correctly, a moment’s reflection will reveal that the courts consider this completely wrong. But they, too, are quite wrong. It was a dark and stormy night.
(And you thought that the discussion highlighted in Dave’s research-agenda post was unorthodox . . . ).
It’s a fun little goofy idea. And, of course, there are areas in which open-source and collaboration can work really well. An easy example is the analysis-of-multiple-states’-laws-about-X piece, where one professor can write on one state’s laws while another professor covers another state.
But a sentence-by-sentence open-sourcing of an article seems problematic. It just seems too easy for one or more of the participants to try to insert funny or incongruous sentences. And just one out-of-place sentence could destroy the continuity of an argument. Help! I’m being held prisoner in a fortune-cookie factory.