August 2, 2005

Blogging: is it serious or fun?

Stephen Bainbridge is saying that blogging -- for lawprofs anyway -- is just for fun. He's reacting to Douglas Berman who's asking the dauntingly somber question: "How might we improve blogs as an academic medium?" Well, jeez, Doug, if you're going to phrase it like that, you're going to propel me all the way over to hedonistic side, where I don't even want to be.

Berman's regular blog is "Sentencing Law and Policy," so you can see where he's coming from. He's in that part of the law blogosphere where each blog is dedicated to a particular area of legal scholarship. He asks how we can transform blogging into "a more respected and trusted academic medium." He doesn't say, but I suspect his answer is that lawprofs need to dedicate their blogs to their specific areas of professional expertise -- like Sentencing Law and Policy. No more politics and photographs and idle thoughts about music and TV.

No wonder Bainbridge responds with "Yuck." He calls blogging a "hobby," a nice break from professional obligations.

If I had to pick, I'd go with Bainbridge, but in fact, I reject both the work and play models. Blogging means much more to me than either concept expresses. Blogging is life -- in writing, in public. It's not a job or a break from a job. It's everything you might think about. Blogging is art.


SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
goesh said...

Lo! If I could'st but work my will
like a veritable nymph on the pill
would'st the uncouth have their fill
of verse and meter and prose n'er shrill
verily to forgo the Blogsphere's usual swill
Fie! Like a strumpet's fingers at the till
most bloggers be'th naught but a politician's shill
-LDM (lonely donut man)

Sissy Willis said...

With a flash of ankle to RLS:

The world is so full of such bloggable things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Sissy Willis

John A said...

Some blogs may be "an academic medium" (Sentencing Law and Policy), others almost entirely frivilous (Fark), but the ones to which I return are written about whatever happens to interest the blogger at the time.

During my time as a computer programmer, I read Computerworld and other profession-oriented publications. I still do read some. But that does not mean I wanted everything - or even most - of what I read to be "academic", any more than the world of magazines is entirely about computers without Model Railroader, Reader's Digest, Time and Newsweek, or even Bride.

I read Volokh Conspiracy at least three times a week, it is almost entirely about legal issues, and I can certainly imagine it as a resource for scholars - but I do not read it as a textbook, and hope it never becomes more than "extra-curricular" reading for law students since I would probably then find it unintelligible.

There is a place for "academic" blogging. Let those that wish to do such so state at their masthead, and be judged by their peers, as The New England of Medicine does. If that is not satisfactory for Berman, he's forgotten how to be a student or other living being.