May 5, 2004

You should blog about that ... and ping!

It was Nina who encouraged me to blog in the first place, but it's my across-the-hall colleague Gordon Smith, our entrepreneurship guru, who's gotten me to pick up the entrepreneurial aspects of blogging. I would have found some things eventually on my own, like Sitemeter and Technorati, but other things, like pinging and Trackback, I would probably have ignored. Today, I'm told, I've got to learn to ping! I should blog about doing law review, because JD2B is picking up on his post on law review, and then I need to ping. But I don't wanna blog about law review, and pinging is too mysterious. What is it, like linking, but backwards, parasiting off the site you're linking? Well, what did you even say about law review that was unique and not just the conventional wisdom? I ask, which leads to a conversation in which I say enough odd things about law review that I am then assured I should blog about that. And ping! But can I ping on Blogger? Well, there's Haloscan, which Gordon pronounces in the corporate style (like Halliburton, emphasis on "Hal," like the computer in "2001"). Isn' that "Halo-scan"? I say, emphasizing the "halo," dragging religion into the conversation.

Our colleague Anuj Desai walks in and joins the conversation and takes note of my Instapundit link from last night. "Oh! You're on Instapundit!" He joins the talk about law reviews and wonders how long law reviews will be around, how something new will replace them. I say, "Blogging," and Gordon and Anuj restate the theme of this conversation: you need to blog about law review. I tell Anuj he should blog, but then remember he won't blog until after he gets tenure. Anuj wonders who will be the first person to get tenure without writing for law reviews, but by publishing only on the web. "Blog your way to tenure," I say, and am once again told to blog about that. Are conversations getting like this, where you say a few good things and then you have to stop and talk about relocating, making this conversation fodder into blogfodder.

I made "blogfodder" one word in a Google-related entrepreneurial move. But why? Why do these blog-related things that aren't so much about saying something you want to say, but making a game out using various devices to propagate your message? We discuss that. Because it's fun to play a game, and there are all these services that let us keep score and try to think up new strategies and see how they play out and convince your colleagues to try them. I say in a few years will look back on this and laugh that we had to pay attention to all these different services like Haloscan and the like. It'll be like years ago when we had to figure out Gopher and Archie and (am I just remembering a weird dream?) Veronica.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, because this has been misread at least once, Anuj's reference to "publishing only on the web" was not necessarily or even much at all about blogging. He was referring to other on line alternatives to law journals, such as this, which could replace paper formats. My reference to "blogging" was essentially humor. I certainly don't think the lawprof blogs of the sort I have count for scholarship, though an occasional post has scholarly substance; it is really more like a notebook of ideas, some of which could be expanded upon and some of which is complete in itself. I'm the lawprof who went to art school: to me the blog is like a sketchbook. Some things in a sketchbook are just things you do to keep the pen moving, to see if something happens. Other things become the basis for a year's worth of paintings. Some things you rework into something else or tear out. Blogging is just a great format. If I thought this counted as scholarship, I wouldn't be publishing on Blogspot, I'd use the UW server, now wouldn't I? But since blogging is just a format, it could be adapted to any sort of use, and it isn't beyond me that someone could have a blog journal that would be a creditable piece of scholarship.