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Monday, March 20, 2006

The Future of the Prawf Blawger: A Skeptical View of the Solove Census

Over at Concurring Opinions, Dan Solove continues his number-crunching work and has revised his census of law professors who blog.   Solove counts about 235 law professors who blog now, noting a 16% increase over the last five months in the number of profs who blog now.  He also notes that women are roughly 25% of the prawf blawging population. 

To my mind, these stats seem inflated on a couple dimensions.  Don't get me wrong: I'm certain they are accurate in that Dan S. has dutifully reported all the information reasonably available to him. But I fear they are misleading in that various people (men and women) who are listed as bloggers are barely blogging, and certain blogs have relatively very few posts, and usually those blogs, and many others on the list, have very few readers.  So what?  I don't state these points as complaints against anyone in particular, and certainly not Dan S, whose census is a useful service.  After all, I hardly think that everyone who wants to blog must blog consistently and deserves to continue only if they can generate an audience of N-readers. Let a thousand flowers bloom, no?  Some will blog more, some will blog less, pass the peanut butter.

I make this (dangerous?) statement only to point out that  to the extent we're trying to divine trends about participation and/or the future of blawgership, we should be cautious and not try to overstate the amount of enthusiasm out there for prawf blawging.  It's a wonderful thing that more people are writing for audiences beyond law reviews and opeds.  And for the most part, I am bullish on prawf blawging's future.  But the growth of blogging by law profs is not, I submit, as robust as an uncritical view of the Solove Census suggests.  (One might wonder why such a point is dangerous or self-defeating. It's conceivable that those prawfs who do blog regularly have a stake in puffery of the numbers, so that it looks like we're leaders/vanguard/the tip of the spear, etc.  I'm not sure this is the case, but perhaps others have thoughts on what's at stake here--if anything at all.)

Let me add one more related point.  If the "true" numbers of vigorous prawf blawgers increase, then it obviously becomes more difficult to prevent fragmentation.  Isn't there a loss to our profession and academic community if so much blogging occurs that not everyone in our guild can follow the same daily conversations? Or am I talking like an old oligopolist?

Posted by Dan Markel on March 20, 2006 at 03:45 AM in Blogging, Dan Markel | Permalink

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Over at PrawfsBlawg, Dan Markel writes: Solove counts about 235 law professors who blog now, noting a 16% increase over the last five months in the number of profs who blog now. He also notes that women are roughly 25%... [Read More]

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