April 10, 2006

Stanley Fish has a blog...

And he's blogging about Scalia. Don't you want to link to it? But you can't! The NYT has put Fish in an aquarium: on TimesSelect, which makes him irrelevant in the great oceans of the blogosphere. Sigh.

You know, over the months that TimesSelect has limited access to its key writers, I've started to skip over columns as I scan through the paper in the morning, making quick decisions about which articles to read. Maybe Maureen Dowd said something provocative, but if I can't engage with it by blogging about it, I don't even take the trouble to find out what it is.

But this Stanley Fish blog is just crazy. It's a blog. But you can't link. By having blogs, the Times seems to want to say we're cool. By making them unlinkable, it's saying we're clueless. But maybe they want their subscribers to stay out of the linked-up blogosphere and wade around in the Times blogs. Stay here, in our safe domain -- our clean, well-lit aquarium -- with our approved bloggers. Of course, we riffraff bloggers, in wanting to link, are trying to send them more readers and to get a lively conversation going.

Please, don't send us more readers. Don't talk about us.


So what did Fish say about Scalia? (Limited link.)
Antonin Scalia is the most theatrical of the present Supreme Court justices. (He’s also the best stylist, but that’s a subject for another day.)
What, he picks out clothes and designs new hairdos for the other justices? I'm so ready to watch that reality show.

Oh, I know what you mean.

Anyway, the longish column of a blog post is about Scalia's well-chewed theory of interpretation. Here's a taste, which I've picked out for a particular reason -- see if you notice it:
If the Constitution’s meaning is fixed and unchanging, asks Paul Greenberg, a columnist for the Joplin Globe in Missouri, how do you explain the fact that it has been “subject to different interpretations over the years?” Easy. Justice Scalia’s thesis is not that the Constitution’s meaning will be perspicuous and agreed on by everyone. His thesis is that the Constitution has a meaning. The history of its interpretation is a history of successive efforts to specify what that meaning is....

Is Justice Scalia saying (a third question posed by blogger Wayne Besen) that “American jurisprudence has not evolved in two centuries?” No, he is identifying the jurisprudential goal, which is to figure out what the Constitution means.
Notice? He didn't provide links! He even quoted a specific blogger and didn't link to him!

What can you say about this purported blog? It's not linkable, and it doesn't link. It's also a longish column, essentially an op-ed, on a well-worn topic. It's called "Think Again."

Perhaps the Times could think again about what a blog is.


Simon said...

I had thought that blogs without comments sections were missing the point of blogging, but this one seems to take it to a new level. It not only doesn't link but can't be linked, which really means that it's not so much a blog and more a series of press releases that happen to use a blog-type publishing platform.

Dave said...

As I've said before, the New York Times doesn't understand the web, or the imperatives the web places on its business.

One would do well to short its stock.

Ann Althouse said...

Yet they just put a big effort into redesigning their website. Clearly, they are trying. They must have considered the options. I actually don't think they are clueless. I think they understand everything but have made a desperate choice in a desperate financial situation.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Sipp: Thanks. Yeah, aqua ... it's so obvious....

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

In the interest of accuracy, Paul Greenberg is the editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His column is syndicated, and it appears throughout the country. He was the editor of my hometown paper (the Pine Bluff Commercial) when I was in high school. He is a conservative libertarian, sort of, I guess.

Ann Althouse said...

Columbia: Yeah, but "Joplin Globe" sound ever so much more cluelessly Southern.

37383938393839383938383 said...

The NYTimes is clueless. The links it does have in its articles are random and pointless. If a film was shot in New Jersey, do I really need a link to a map of New Jersey in the film review?

But the NYTimes also wants to increase readership of its print edition. That is why it limits its blogs to paying viewers. It doesn't just do that in the U.S., it also does that internationally with the IHT.

kmg4 said...

Why Alito does not tilt the court tot he Right, but merely restores balance to it.

Smilin' Jack said...

Is Justice Scalia saying (a third question posed by blogger Wayne Besen) that “American jurisprudence has not evolved in two centuries?” No, he is identifying the jurisprudential goal, which is to figure out what the Constitution means.

If that's the goal, what's the timetable? When will we know what it means? Have we made any progress in the two centuries since it was written? I.e. do we understand it better than the people who wrote it?

I wonder if the Founders would laugh or cry at Scalia.

Anonymous said...

"I actually don't think they are clueless."

At the end of last week their stock was under $25. A year ago it was around $35.

And CriticalObserver is right that their links are "random and pointless." Ann, don't you agree on this point?

The Guardian has a competing model to TimesSelect, "Comment Is Free." Have you seen it?

There is a podcast about Comment Is Free that the Times would be advised to listen to: "Newspapers in the age of blogs" with Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian.

My recommendation is that you just ignore TimesSelect and move on.

Andy Levy said...

As I say here, the desperation of old media has a definable scent: it's the musty smell of "we were here first" mixed with the flop sweat odor of "we really don't understand what's happening." The networks trumpet their decisions to feed their newscasts over the interweb as if it will make any difference, not realizing that the same people who aren't watching their shows on television also won't be watching them on the 'net. Why? Because they don't have to. Why would you want to get the news in that format if you've got alternatives? In the time it takes a night news show to cover five stories, I can ready thirty stories that give me a wider and deeper perspective on what's happening.

More at the link, including a quote from this post.

-The Cranky Insomniac

Fitz said...

This observer finds the unwillingness of the times to both link and require registration for comments to be a manifestation of its penchant for elitism.

It’s simply not exclusive if you don’t exclude someone.
Blogger Wayne Besen is not our kind dear.

Tom T. said...

The Times needs a blog like Stanley Fish needs a bicycle.

(Sorry; couldn't resist).

Fat Man said...

"The NYT has put Fish in an aquarium"

Good spot for him. I hope they remember to change the water regularly.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that the answer to Harvard's BB monopoly is to find some jurisdiction that requires BB citations (not that hard to do), and then post the current BB online as Fair Use. To some extent, this is similar to the West page number situation - you needed to cite to the West publication, but could only do so by buying a West (or later Lexis) publication or service. There, of course, West didn't really add any original expression, so really didn't have a copyright in its pagination. But its claims were backed by millions in sales, so it was able to extort some blood anyway.

I do think that posting the BB online would be Fair Use if a lot of jurisdictions require their format, which, as is well known, is pretty arbitrary in many cases.