How the Internet Might Affect Legal Scholarship:

I've agreed to write a short essay on the subject, and now I have to find something interesting to say. I think I have some ideas already (beyond, of course, what I've already written in my Scholarship, Blogging and Trade-offs: On Discovering, Disseminating, and Doing paper), but I'm always delighted to get tips from others. So any suggestions? The topic assigned to me is deliberately broad -- it includes how online publication might affect legal scholarship, how blogging might affect legal scholarship, and more -- though I'll probably narrow it myself.

In any event, I'd love to have your input (for which I'll gladly pay you not just in a thank-you note, but in a 10% royalty on the $0 that I'll get from the publisher for this essay). In a few days, I'll blog about an area that I'm particularly thinking about, but for now I wanted to get suggestions that aren't influenced by my current plans. Many thanks!

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. How the Internet May Help the Accuracy of Legal Scholarship:
  2. How the Internet Might Affect Legal Scholarship:
Justin (mail):
Alot of people have discussed how the internet has transformed positively legal scholarship. I think maybe a warning post about the inherent problems with legal scholarship in the age of the internet should be considered. Some of these problems, which would make interesting topics, is:

The issue of "echo chambering" false, disputed, or minority facts or theories into more valid forms than reality is typically willing to support.

The decreased cost of publishing makes it more difficult to filter through bad, unoriginal, or simply sloppy work to get to truly innovative or prescient ideas.

The risk of decline in empirical research, if any.

An increase in partisan or unduly attacking/overly (and not fairly) critical pieces (i.e., much like the effect of the internet on political journalism).

I think the principal theme between all these is the question of whether the internet provides an adequate gatekeeping function, and if not, what it lets in that should be kept out of the pubished world - and what, if anything, that can be done to mitigate the introduction of the flaw(s) into the system.

Just my .02
8.2.2006 7:39pm
Brett Bellmore:
Far easier detection of plagiarism comes to mind. Search engines ought to terrify anybody who's considering committing that offense.
8.2.2006 8:25pm
Romach (mail) (www):
Not sure how legal scholarship was before the internet, but could the internet be helping scholars "keep in touch" with reality? Instead of an ivory tower, perhaps more of a house in the neighborhood
8.2.2006 8:31pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
One way the internet has affected legal scholaship is that it allows legal scholars to ask people on the internet to identify ways in which the internet has affected legal scholarship.

More seriously, the internet facilitates collaboration in unprecedented ways. Imagine co-authoring an article with a professor at Harvard. Now imagine doing it without using the internet? The latter is certainly possible, but the collaboration would be much slower and at nowhere near as deep a level.
8.2.2006 9:21pm
jimbino (mail):
I think the topic is really, "How the WWW has affected legal scholarship," but I could be mistaken. The Web is not the Internet, and they should not be confused. Is the topic meant to cover FTP and VoIP and all the other non-Web Internet modalities?
8.2.2006 10:18pm
For me, Lexis has brought a huge library into my home. Secondly, and this may be obvious, the ability to write publicly on the Internet about current legal issues makes the process of sharing ideas and arguing about them much quicker, and available to a wider audience that may be more actively engaged. BS is more easily smelled and more quickly pointed out, and reputable information sources (or sources that are friendly to a point of view) are available.
8.3.2006 12:09am
Bryan DB:
Certainly research is a lot easier, what with Google's amazing trove of resources. As well, having Lexis and Westlaw on my laptop when I'm sitting in my pajamas at home makes life a lot more pleasant.
One big thing is that using the Internet could make researchers more lazy. For example, instead of delving into a resource like Lexis for newspaper articles or other research publications, someone might post a "research bleg" or two, looking for helpful shortcuts to otherwise tedious legwork.
8.3.2006 12:16pm
Larry the Librarian (mail):
This is admittedly from a librarian's perspective, but a major problem with having research bloom in a thousand places is that cataloging and indexing it will become much harder. The flip side, of course, is the power of search, but search isn't everything, and the services provided by digesters, annotators, indexers and so on provide a valuable means of getting to information that you don't already know to look for. I think in gaining new access to material, other, valuable access will be lost.

Is any of this any different from Gregor Mendel's research not finding an audience when he first published it? Probably not, but when life, liberty, and property are at stake, it's a pity to think that an influential point can only be found one way. On the other hand, if the increase in publication modalities is accompanied by useful metadata standards for those modalities, we might be in pretty good shape.
8.3.2006 12:58pm