Category: Book Reviews


Responses to Blog Reviews of The Future of Reputation: Part I

Cover 4 120 x 176.jpgA few weeks ago, I offered free review copies of my book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (Yale University Press, Oct. 2007) to bloggers who would agree to write a review of the book. A few reviews have now come in, and they are quite thoughtful and interesting. Many engage with the book at a more substantive level than the typical mainstream media reviews, and I’d like to discuss and respond to some of them.

1. David Giacalone at f/k/a

David Giacalone,a lawyer, haiku writer, and former FTC official, has written two posts about The Future of Reputation at his blog f/k/a. His first post, a prelude to his review, is a fascinating etymology on the word “gossip”:

If you click on, you’ll see the many meanings of the word gossip. . . . The first three meanings were expected. But #3 and #4 were surprising. A gossip is “a close friend or companion,” and in Britain the term is sometimes used to denote one’s godparent. . . . Similarly, Wiktionary explained, “From Old English godsibb, where it meant “godparent”. Later it came to mean a person who is your friend or companion. Since friends do a lot of talking the modern meaning of ‘idle talking’ has stuck.” . . . . So, “a gossip” went from being a friend you would choose to serve as godparent to your child to “A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.”

In his second post, he reviews my book. David writes:

The Future of Reputation brings together the themes in useful and interesting ways, showing important connections and ramifications, and making me want to talk about them with friends (and foes) and to find solutions to the problems he raises. . . .

This book is the perfect playground and mosh pit for guys and gals who enjoy designing or critiquing statutory (or common law) legal solutions to important societal problems. Dan Solove has suggested an ample variety of potential legal changes (with lots of details both offered and lacking) to keep the wonks up late at night debating the proposals — talking them out, fleshing them out, or throwing them out. Of course, law students and professors, lawyers and legislative staffers, come readily to mind. But, you don’t need a law degree to be intrigued by the proposals in The Future of Reputation, and to have a contribution to make in the discussion this book should inspire and provoke.

David’s review isn’t without some thoughtful criticism of my book:

Dan speaks of wanting the law to “cast a wider net, yet have a less painful bite,” and of using the law to shape norms rather than imposing direct prohibitions. But, laws that create wider nets of responsibility and impose new restrictions are unlikely to be effective if their “bite” doesn’t draw some blood or leave a scar. Likewise, new norms usually only make an impression and change behavior when there is a genuine downside to ignoring their prescriptions and proscriptions.

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Christopher Slobogin’s Privacy at Risk

slobogin.jpgProfessor Christopher Slobogin (University of Florida College of Law) has just published Privacy at Risk: The New Government Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment (U. Chicago Press, Nov. 1, 2007). According to the book description:

Without our consent and often without our knowledge, the government can constantly monitor many of our daily activities, using closed circuit TV, global positioning systems, and a wide array of other sophisticated technologies. With just a few keystrokes, records containing our financial information, phone and e-mail logs, and sometimes even our medical histories can be readily accessed by law enforcement officials. As Christopher Slobogin explains in Privacy at Risk, these intrusive acts of surveillance are subject to very little regulation.

Applying the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, Slobogin argues that courts should prod legislatures into enacting more meaningful protection against government overreaching. In setting forth a comprehensive framework meant to preserve rights guaranteed by the Constitution without compromising the government’s ability to investigate criminal acts, Slobogin offers a balanced regulatory regime that should intrigue everyone concerned about privacy rights in the digital age.

I wrote a blurb for the book. Here’s what I wrote:

Privacy at Risk is a thoughtful examination of how new surveillance technologies are allowing the government to subvert the basic constitutional principles underpinning the Fourth Amendment. It is a very fine book—one that is timely, interesting, and of essential importance in light of current events. With clarity and depth, Slobogin sets forth a comprehensive and sophisticated vision for how to reinvigorate the Fourth Amendment. His book is a must-read for anybody concerned about establishing an appropriate balance between government surveillance and privacy.


Book Signing for The Future of Reputation in Washington, DC

Cover 4 120 x 176.jpgToday, I will be discussing and signing my book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (Yale University Press, Oct. 2007) in Washington, DC.

Borders Bookstore

18th & L, Washington, DC

Monday, November 5th, at 6:30 PM

Please feel free to stop by just for the discussion or signing or both.

Here is a story about the book in today’s Washington Post Express.


Belle Lettre on The Future of Reputation

Belle Lettre, the pseudonymous blogger at Law & Letters, has posted a very thoughtful and interesting review of my book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet. It is unlike most reviews that typically summarize ideas in the book and quickly react; Belle Lettre has really engaged the issues and arguments of the book at an intellectual and personal level. She also has interesting musings about blogging pseudonymously, shaming, privacy, sharing personal information, and more. From the review:

One of Solove’s take-away points is that privacy is fluid: we might violate our own privacy all the time to our friends, but we are appalled when strangers know our business. Privacy is not rigid, it is fluid–but it has not altogether disappeared either. I would call it “bounded,” that we have a certain expectation of privacy between our friends, a different type amongst our colleagues, and limited to our geographic area. The Internet takes this boundedness and destroys the borders. On the other hand, the internet expands the bounds of “public concern”—if it reaches the Internet, everyone believes they have a right to know, a stake in their interest, and a freedom to opine, snark, shame. Boundaries are shattered and expanded, but nothing is contracted. The context is everything, the readership entirely determinative of interpretation: but even though privacy has its bounds, they mean almost nothing on the Internet. Before, public stonings occurred in the town square, but that is an example of a bounded community of norm-enforcement: four corners, only a certain number of people, and only those with an actual interest-stake participated. Not so, now, with the vast blogospheric public square. The one to cast the first stone may not be the one with the highest interest-stake, but rather the one with the most vitriol with the biggest voice.


How to Get a Free Copy of The Future of Reputation

future-of-reputation-1.jpgAre you a blogger?

Are you interested in the issues of Internet gossip, rumor, privacy, anonymity, and free speech?

Are you interested in writing a short book review?

If so, I’m offering you a free review copy of my new book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet.

My book is about blogging, and I discuss how information spreads rapidly throughout the blogosphere – with both good and problematic effects. Obviously, I want to try to harness the good side of the blogosphere’s power, and that’s why I’m trying this experiment. The purpose of my book is to spark a discussion about the issues, and I cannot imagine a more appropriate way to do so than in the blogosphere.

If you’re interested in reviewing the book, please send me an email with your address, a brief description of your blog, information about your readership and visitor traffic, and a link to your blog.

If the response is overwhelming, I may not be able to send a book to everyone. My publisher only supplied me with a limited number of free review copies, so once they’re gone, you’re out of luck. Preference will be given based on the following factors: the promptness of your request, the relevance of the issues you blog about to the issues discussed in my book, and your visitor traffic. In other words, if you primarily blog about albino panda bears, or if you are the only reader of your blog, I won’t be too keen on depleting my precious stock of review copies for you.

Please note that I’m sending copies in exchange for your writing a review — so whether you like the book, love it, or hate it — I’d like you to air your candid thoughts on your blog.

So please email me a request soon, while supplies last!


Reactions to The Future of Reputation in the Blogosphere and Elsewhere

Cover remix 2b.jpgHere are a few reviews and discussions of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet:

* Mark Williams reviews the book at MIT’s Technology Review

* John Tierney discusses the book and online gossip at Tierney Lab blog at the NY Times

* Kathleen Fitzpatrick has review at

* Taran Rampersad has this review at his blog,

* Frank Pasqaule reviews the book at

* David Freeman has this review at Pajamas Media


Christopher Eisgruber’s The Next Justice

book-eisgruber-next-justice.gifIn the mail: Professor Christopher Eisgruber’s (Princeton University) new book, The Next Justice: Repairing the Supreme Court Appointments Process (Princeton University Press 2007). From the cover jacket:

The Supreme Court appointments process is broken, and the timing couldn’t be worse–for liberals or conservatives. The Court is just one more solid conservative justice away from an ideological sea change–a hard-right turn on an array of issues that affect every American, from abortion to environmental protection. But neither those who look at this prospect with pleasure nor those who view it with horror will be able to make informed judgments about the next nominee to the Court–unless the appointments process is fixed now. In The Next Justice, Christopher Eisgruber boldly proposes a way to do just that. He describes a new and better manner of deliberating about who should serve on the Court–an approach that puts the burden on nominees to show that their judicial philosophies and politics are acceptable to senators and citizens alike. And he makes a new case for the virtue of judicial moderates.

Long on partisan rancor and short on serious discussion, today’s appointments process reveals little about what kind of judge a nominee might make. Eisgruber argues that the solution is to investigate how nominees would answer a basic question about the Court’s role: When and why is it beneficial for judges to trump the decisions of elected officials? Through an examination of the politics and history of the Court, Eisgruber demonstrates that pursuing this question would reveal far more about nominees than do other tactics, such as investigating their views of specific precedents or the framers’ intentions.

Written with great clarity and energy, The Next Justice provides a welcome exit from the uninformative political theater of the current appointments process.

Sounds interesting.


Gordon Campbell’s Missing Witness

book-campbell-missing-witness.jpgIn the mail: Gordon Campbell’s debut novel, Missing Witness. From Booklist:

Sixty-four-year-old lawyer Campbell sent the manuscript of this novel, unsolicited, to Morrow, the publisher bought it within a week. That will come as no surprise to readers of this suspenseful legal thriller, which has drawn comparisons to the early work of Scott Turow. Campbell brings to it a deep love of the law and a great feel for his Phoenix setting. That’s where recent law-school grad Douglas McKenzie takes his first job, passing up an offer from a blue-chip firm for a chance to work with legendary defense attorney Dan Morgan. The hard-drinking, chain-smoking ex-marine asks Doug to help him with a huge murder case when he learns Doug has a family connection to the defendants. A rich cattleman’s son has been shot, and the murderer is either his glamorous wife or his emotionally disturbed 12-year-old daughter. The many finely detailed courtroom scenes crackle with tension as the driven Morgan, frequently hung over and so nervous that he sweats through his suit, makes his arguments with passionate conviction. A page-turner that is also a fascinating primer on the law.

Gordon Campbell’s bio on the book jacket indicates he is a lawyer as well as the husband of U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell (D. Utah).


American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II

book-muller1.jpgProfessor Eric Muller (UNC Law School), who guest blogged here and who regularly blogs at Is That Legal? has recently published American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II. From the book jacket:

When the U.S. government forced 70,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry into internment camps in 1942, it created administrative tribunals to pass judgment on who was loyal and who was disloyal. Muller relates the untold story of exactly how military and civilian bureaucrats judged these tens of thousands of American citizens during wartime. This is the only study of the Japanese American internment to examine the complex inner workings of the most draconian system of loyalty screening that the American government has ever deployed against its own citizens. At a time when our nation again finds itself beset by worries about an “enemy within” considered identifiable by race or religion, this volume offers crucial lessons from a recent and disastrous history.

Eric has studied and written about the Japanese Internment extensively over the years, and his book looks fascinating. He’s currently blogging about the book at PrawfsBlawg.