Yessir, I can still recall the day I first became a blawger.
It was a ways back in the summer of Ought-Three. August, I think it was. The last of the mastodons had just succumbed to the petrochemical embrace of the La Brea Tar Pits, and we were wondering whether it might be time to start scouting around for sticks, so that we'd have something to rub together to make fire through the coming winter.
No, that's not right. I am sure by 2003, we already had at least a working prototype of the steam engine. And from there, it was only a matter of time before Twitter became inevitable. Which, by a natural progression, brings us to the reinvigoration of this blawg, the current State of the Blawgosphere, and How Things Have Changed in the seven-plus years since Decs&Excs began.
Some of this territory was well covered recently by Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, in a post entitled "Institutional Memory." His principal message: legal blogs/blawgs are an institution at this point, and while new entrants are always welcome when they bring something of value to the table, it pays them to recognize that they are not the first to arrive at that table and more than a few courses have already been served. There are subjects that have been done to death. There are traditions and taboos and mores and such that, while they need not be blindly honored, should be at least tacitly acknowledged and should Inform The Discourse as it flows on from here.
That post includes a look back to 2006 and the 38th edition of Blawg Review, published at what was then Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground and is now Beyond the Underground. I hope I may be permitted to take a small morsel of satisfaction seeing that both of my own blogs found their way into good ol' No. 38. (Blawg Review, meanwhile, continues on its peripatetic way, in some sense a living embodiment of The Blawgs' institutional memory, landing this week at the pseudonymous Gideon's blawg, a public defender, for Edition No. 294.)
Toward the end of his post, Mr. Greenfield, Esq., makes this observation:
There's a big blawgosphere out there. Sure, it's far fuller today than it was back in January, 2006 when Evan Schaeffer did Blawg Review #38. But fuller doesn't necessarily mean better. We're stuffed to the gills with junk, and whatever opportunity this afforded those lawyers whose purpose was to backlink and SEO their way to page one of Google, the ship has likely left the port and sailed around the world a few times.
There is some irreducible quantity of "junk" to be found in every field of human endeavor, blawging very much included. It seems, though, that the proportion of junk among blawgs has only grown as blogging has been touted, year after year, as a valuable tool for selling legal services, rather than as a good in itself. That particular mania has spread from blogging to the wider world of social media, resulting in such oddities as the insidious but seemingly serious belief that Twitter, of all things, is useful for anything other than as rollicking a good time as one is able to squeeze out of 140 characters.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money," said Samuel Johnson, LL.D., or so Boswell claims, but my view is that the best blogs and blawgs have been and will always be the ones that are created not principally as a conduit to healthy receipts but for, dare I say it, the love of the game. Written because the blogger wants, needs to write. Written to be read, the fact of having been read being its own reward whether or not the phone rings because of it. Written for the sake of conveying something of interest or value to the reader, as a gift, for free. Nothing taints the practice of law quite like the Business of Law, and the inherent value of a blawg to both its author and its audience suffers, says I, to the degree that it is driven by—or, heaven forfend, is actually about—the Business of Law.
A blawg post should be the voice of a single lawyer, recognizably his or her own, speaking what that lawyer really knows or really believes, with vigor, with energy, and with heart and/or mind fully engaged. The mercenary motive, the pre-packaged or ghostwritten post, blawgs whose entries are vetted by committee: that way lies the shortest path to the junk heap.
Thus endeth the minor rant.
In trying to restart this blawg, I have wanted to spruce things up, re-jigger the design a bit, update and refine the blogroll, and so forth. Revisiting the blogroll, I was struck by how many insurance-related blawgs that I once followed have fallen by the way in recent years. I have left most of them on the list, in the hope that they will rise again and reenter the Grand National Conversation. I will be adding new and additional links as my scouting about leads me to blawgers as yet unknown to me, or known but somehow overlooked on that list. In the meantime, here is a brief Honor Roll of the Missing:
- Insurance Coverage Law Blog
[David Rossmiller's blawg, particularly strong in covering the insurance fallout of Hurrican Katrina. Last regularly active May 2009; briefly sprang back to life in July 2010, but silent ever since.]
- Insurance Scrawl
[Marc Mayerson. Last post, February 2008.]
[Professor Martin Grace: on the short list of blawgers I have met in person. Last post, September, 2009.]
- Unintended Consequences
["Doug Simpson's weblog of research on the collision of law, networks and disruptive technologies." Last post, April 2008]
[E L Eversman on auto legal and consumer issues. Two posts in October, 2010, but otherwise silent since September 2009.]
No junk there. May they all soon rejoin us.