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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Blogging Preemption Checks?

Larry Ribstein suggests that bloggers -- especially academics who blog -- should engage in a kind of blogging preemption check by linking to other blogs that have discussed the issue:

In the academic setting, this ignorance of the prior literature would be a bad thing, a sign of academic negligence. What about in blogging, particularly by an academic blogger?

I think a similar norm should apply, though applied differently in this different setting. Applying this norm in both settings helps everybody economize on time. . . .  The norm can be policed by the usual reputational and shaming incentives.

Will Baude, guest blogging at Conglomerate, has a terrific response:

. . . [T]his kind of norm really would impose serious supply costs on blogging, and would therefore cause a lot of people to blog a lot less. I used to be hesitant to respond to any post until I had read its entire comment-thread. . . .  A lot of blogs are, quite frankly, not very good, and if posting about X means I am ethically obligated to read them, I am simply not going to bother.

. . . [T]he value of this sort of pre-emption check is dubious. If somebody else was a blogger's original source or inspiration for a story, that is one thing, but if somebody has merely managed to produce a similar version of the same post, who cares? Or, more precisely, how many people care, and why can't they go use Technorati and an RSS reader themselves if they do? . . . .

Ribstein's proposed pre-emption norm will lead to decreased blogging and wasted time by those who follow it, and decrease the quality and filtering ability of blog posts, all for dubious, if any, gain. It should not be followed or encouraged.

Agreed. There is very little to be gained by Ribstein's proposal and quite a lot to be lost.  Blog posts are not academic articles.   They are half-baked ideas dashed off very quickly.  In contrast, law review articles are half-baked ideas published slowly.   The key difference is that if blog posts required extensive prior research and reading, then they'd take much longer to produce.  I already have sacrificed, in the name of blogging, numerous hours in the day that I never had.  If I had to go out and search the blogosphere for everything about an issue I post about, blogging would take even more time than I already don't have.  There are, by some estimates, between 10 million to 30 million blogs and potentially up to nearly a million new blog posts each day.  Have fun trying to do a preemption check!  Anyway, Will does a great job in responding to Ribstein's proposal, so check out his post

Posted by Daniel Solove on July 21, 2005 at 08:03 PM in Blogging, Daniel Solove | Permalink


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