Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Solum on Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship
Lawrence B. Solum, University of Illinois College of Law, has posted his paper Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship. It appears in the Washington Law Review. Hat tip. Here's the abstract: Does blogging have anything to do with legal scholarship? Could blogging transform the legal academy? This paper suggests that these are the wrong questions. Blogs have plenty to do with legal scholarship - that's obvious. But what blogs have to do with legal scholarship isn't driven by anything special about blogs qua weblogs, qua collections of web pages that share the form of a journal or log. The relationship between blogging and the future of legal scholarship is a product of other forces - the emergence of the short form, the obsolesce of exclusive rights, and the trend towards the disintermediation of legal scholarship. Those forces and their relationship to blogging will be the primary focus of this paper. The transition from the "long form" to the "short form" involves movement from very long law review articles and multivolume treatises to new forms of legal scholarship, including the blog post, the idea piece, and the use of collaborative online authoring environments such as wikis. The transition from exclusive rights to open source requires publication in formats that provide full text searchability and the use of copyright to insure that scholarship can be freely downloaded and duplicated. The trend toward disintermediation reflects the diminished role of traditional intermediaries such as student and peer editorial boards and the growing role of search engines such as Google. These trends are the result of technology change and the fundamental forces that drive legal scholarship. Each of the three trends, the short form, open access, and disintermediation reduces search costs and access costs to legal scholarship. Reducing costs has other important implications, including the facilitation of the globalization of legal scholarship and the reduction of lag times between the production and full-scale dissemination of new scholarship. Each of these important trends is facilitated by blogs and blogging, but the blog or weblog is only one form that these trends can take. Blogs express and facilitate the fundamental forces that are already transforming legal scholarship in fundamental ways.