September 17, 2005

"'Blogs,' which is to say thoughts ... made available on the internet. "

Gordon Smith has fun reading some sentences, which is to say thoughts, written by the dean of the University of Chicago Law School. The dean, Saul Levmore, writes:
Our plan is to experiment with a faculty blog, perhaps by asking a different faculty member to post some thoughts for a one- or two-week period before turning over the lead to a colleague. This point-person would ensure that there is frequent new material on our Law School blog, but ideally other faculty members would regularly post as well, so that we might have a kind of public Roundtable.
Gordon asks:
If a University of Chicago Law School blog is a good idea, why doesn't it happen spontaneously? The costs of entry into blogging are very low, so experimentation is easy, and the faculty already includes a number of experienced bloggers.
It strikes me as weird to send out a letter to alumni saying the faculty is going to start a blog experiment. Since anyone, any minute, can start up a blog, it's not like planning a new law school building. Do the blog, and if it works our well, call attention to it. But saying hey, we're going to have a blog, is not just lame, it's risky.

And why capitalize "Roundtable"? That, in itself, bespeaks an unbloggish pomposity.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the University of Chicago Law School has a journal called Roundtable and a long tradition of using the name Roundtable for various scholarly efforts.


Troy said...

It's like when your parents start doing or trying something "cool". It feels like it (whatever "it" is) is being sapped of its coolness -- forced. Like the dean started dressing and talking like Snoopp Dogg or Fitty-Cent.

Menlo Bob said...

This is how sausage is made in Universities. Announce your intentions, have a meeting and discuss, form committees, endless discussion, political infighting.

Ron said...

It's like when the most uncool mayors or governors announce 'coolness inititives.'

"Unbloggish Pomposity" would be a good name for a band.

Are there blogs for bands on tour? From within the band I mean... If you had any coolness left Lord McCartney would do that on his upcoming tour...

aidan maconachy said...

Sounds like a trap to me.

The dean and co-conspirators are likely keen to create public space where they can collect incriminating evidence on faculty people they would like to boot. Blogs tend to provoke unguarded remarks and seduce people into interchanges they might later regret.

I can see it now ... a special "blog detective" on computer duty in the offices of the dean ...

"Oh look, Henderson has revealed faulty logic in presenting his arguement, and he dropped the "F" word a few posts back."

Academics beware!!

Adam said...

Actually, there's a reason it's capitalized:

"Continuing the vision of our University’s founders, The University of Chicago Law School Roundtable is a journal of interdisciplinary studies devoted to works from both legal and non-legal scholars. The Roundtable’s goal is to create a legal journal broad enough to provide a forum for a wide range of topics, yet unique enough to stand out among the sea of law journals already in existence.

"Our name reflects a proud tradition. For several decades, "The University of Chicago Roundtable" was a nationally broadcast radio program that engaged the energies and intellects of a broad range of extraordinary scholars from throughout the University of Chicago. These scholars included Enrico Fermi, Saul Bellow, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Mortimer Adler, Edward Levi and Milton Friedman, among others.

From the late-1970s into the 1990s, this tradition evolved into "The University of Chicago Law School Roundtable," a faculty discussion series that met three times a week over lunch at the Law School. . . . "

John A said...

" perhaps by asking a different faculty member to post some thoughts for a one- or two-week period before turning over the lead"
I can see this quickly becoming a job requirement, which may well effectvely kill it off in a matter of weeks or more certainly make it completely useless.

Ann Althouse said...

Adam: So they are entitled to be pompous then.

John A: You bring up a topic that I've heard in response to my blogging. People at the law school who don't blog tend to resist thinking it's good — they never say "I love your blog" or anything like that — because there is a fear that it will become a requirement. I've heard that fear openly expressed, by other lawprofs as soon as they heard about my blog.

Simon Kenton said...

"You hear them moanin' their lives away,
Then you hear somebody say,
'Thass the soun' of the profs,
Bloggin' on the Round ... Table.'"

Saul Levmore, "Greatest Hits"

Menlo Bob said...

I'd say Simon has a pretty good voice.

Mary said...

Sounds to me like Smith and Althouse are trying to body check the new players with fresh legs just coming off the bench getting into the action. Why not wait until they actually get in the game, nearer the action, before you try to challenge? (oops-- sports analogy. But honestly, my fashion/makeup comparison would make less sense...)

If this was an internal communication, dean to alumni, which Smith may have received in that capacity, why criticize Levmore's attempt to stir interest and communicate directly? I thought you bloggers were all about the opening doors and access via a new medium. Maybe Saul is trying to LEAD at his school and amongst his colleagues, and not just wait for the lone talent on staff to go it alone. Which is still cool if they do... You're right if this experimenting fails, it could be lame to send advance notice. But if not, credit Saul then for trying to set the bar higher, or even set it up at all?

And for what it's worth, Saul is pretty cool as a person. (Taking liberties here with the address:) Had a chance to meet him and Prof. Gary Barnett too, at one of those law school pre-prep classes. Didn't help so much with substantive pre-prep, but it was cool to hear lectures from noted people in the field. He was 49 then, I believe, but came across cool for his age [sic] and seems young to have that job. Maybe UC likes a risk taker?

Skate it out, you academic bloggers, I'd say. It's a big sheet of ice out there. :)

Mary said...

Meant Prof. Randy Barnett, not Coach Gary Barnett. My bad...