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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Should Law Schools Subsidize Blogging? For SSRN's sake?

Larry Solum notes the arrival of his future colleague and prawf Larry R.'s interesting new piece up at Legal Theory Blog and SSRN on the law and economics of blogging.  In the piece, which is short, and therefore recommended, Ribstein observes how beneficial blogging has been for the law schools of those professors who blog  -- and, if I recall, Ribstein mentions specifically the high performance of Texas (Leiter), UCLA (Volokh and Bainbridge) GMU (Bernstein, Zywicki et al.), and GW (Kerr and Solove) -- in the SSRN tournament rankings.  He therefore poses the valuable (if rent-seeking) question: whether schools should be subsidizing the production of blogging. 

Questions:

Which schools, if any, are underwriting any of the costs associated with blogging (whether in terms of research assistance, which would be valuable for a blog like Larry Solum's, which performs incredibly valuable service to the profession, but also is highly administrative in nature, or fees for webhosting, or more generally, the time of the profs)?  If none, why aren't they?  Is it possible that the blogs have already generated sufficient rewards to the bloggers in terms of name recognition (among law review editors and other profs, if not others)?

Second, how dangerous is reliance on the SSRN tournament as an indicator of anything? Someone the other day said that SSRN can tell whether it's one person downloading her articles a lot, or whether the downloads are dispersed.  Classic deterrence strategy: this is like whipping and hanging effigies far away from the crowds.  Who cares if SSRN can detect violators as long as people believe SSRN can detect them? 

Putting aside the question of manipulability, should we be worried about the effects of the Tournament on scholarship?  Could it encourage introductory pieces just to court favor with a wider audience? Unlikely in reality, but possible on the margins of reality where some professors live :-)      

Update: Just a point of clarification.  Though Larry Ribstein's paper suggests there may be a causal connection between Brian Leiter's blogging and Texas' strong performance in the SSRN tourney, Brian indicated to me in a followup email that Bernie Black is the main driver of Texas' SSRN output: the numbers don't lie. Thanks for the tip Brian.   

Posted by Administrators on April 12, 2005 at 05:18 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Should Law Schools Subsidize Blogging? For SSRN's sake?:

» Blogging as academic publishing from Ideoblog
Prawfsblawg asks (following up a question in my blogging paper) whether blogging should be subsidized. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 12, 2005 9:13:16 PM

» http://vaconservative.com/archives/2005/04/12// from Commonwealth Conservative
Prawfsblawg has an interesting post about whether law schools should subsidize blogging for their professors. It's an intriguing idea, especially since some of my favorite bloggers (Glenn Reynolds, to whom I tip my cap, and Professor Bainbridge) are ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 12, 2005 9:45:32 PM

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Mark Coffey on the fairness doctrine Tim on Lovecraft and some guy named Lemony Snicket Tish on the 101 point wine Tigerhawk on expensing of options PrawfsBlawg on subsidized blogging I know we're all so over Schiavo, but XRLQ has [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 18, 2005 11:20:29 PM

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