Tuesday, February 05, 2008
A Little More on the Citation of Blogs in Legal Scholarship
Over at Law Librarian Blog, Joe Hodnicki has some statistical evidence about the assimilation of blogs into legal literature, as I discussed previously:
Are there any citations to "Blogs in Legal Scholarship" critical of a posting that point to "comments" in support of such criticism? That could prove embarrassing.
You'll note I've not been too good at keeping either the Legal Phil or Nietzsche blog moving; as it is, they are operating more like scholarly listserves, which do work pretty well.
Ah, but Prof. Leiter's take on the matter is more nuanced than the posts here. The comparison to the liar's paradox is quite inapt, despite his concession of defeat, since Leiter isn't remotely suggesting that "everything" on a blog is worthless. He's referring to blogs viewed as cognate with legal scholarship.
While I think Matt Berns' point is insightful, namely, that student editors as well as faculty scholars are contributing to the increasing appearance of citations to blog posts, I think he begs the question when he remarks that younger students "are becoming more familiar and comfortable with the blogosphere." Comfortable with it as what? I'm familiar and comfortable with billboards, but that doesn't mean I'd cite one in an article. If he's suggesting that younger students are more inclined to view blogs as scholarship, then "legal scholarship [as we know it] is really doomed!" (That result may or may not be a bad thing.)
Now take the latest comment to the original post, another student's characterization of his own citation to a blog in a case note, "a preliminary point of reference to the general academic discussion about my note case at the time it came down." The post, in other words, would seem to be data, a sample of the contemporary "general academic discussion," not a source of analytical authority. It's the difference between my citing Hart's Concept of Law for the intellectual work it embodies versus citing it as, say, a book of legal scholarship of more than 200 pages.
>>>>> Hodnicki speculates that the rates of increased citations will level off fairly soon, reflecting a maturation of the system. <<<<<
Joe Hodnicki is an uscrupulous jerk who has no credibility. He and Ron Jones, his nefarious co-blogger on the Law Librarian Blog, also blog on the Law X.0 blog (formerly Law Blog Metrics), where they have been refusing to post any of my comments.
There is still lots of room for growth in the annual number of blog citations in law journals. There are several hundred law journals (some law schools have several) and several articles per year per journal, so just think what would happen if there were an average of several citations of blogs per article.
There seems to be this phobia that a visitor's comment on a blog might contain a bad idea. The solution is simple -- either (1) don't quote that bad idea or (2) if you do quote it, rebut it.
IMO it is the comment sections that make blogs especially attractive as references because the comments can present a variety of views and may help to make the blog self-correcting on the facts. Obviously, arbitrary censorship of comments shows a desire to present just one side of a controversial topic and blogs where there is such censorship have no credibility.
Also, a problem with citation of blogs and other Internet websites is that they are subject to change and even disappearance. There is now a free service, http://www.webcitation.org/, that archives websites for future reference.
"I'm always kicking their butts -- that's why they don't like me."
-- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
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