The general conversation today at the the Berkman Center's conference on Bloggership revolved around the risks and benefits of blogging. The benefits seem obvious given the panel membership. Every panel speaker was an example of how blogging can raise one's academic profile, or, for some, catapult them into the realm of stardom beyond the academy. (I am thinking of the cult of Ann Althouse, and perhaps even of Eugene Volokh, although I gather some will disagree that the blogs are what made them stars and still others will think there are better examples of starprawfs out there.) The risks were less obvious -- or at least were less dwelled upon. There were concerns over libel and defamation lawsuits; intellectual embarrasment; and the time blog takes from scholarship and teaching that are required features of our jobs as law professors. It is this last one I am most interested in.
Insofar as effective blogging (and by that I mean a having a sustained, engaged readership) requires regular and frequent postings on subjects of interest, it seems the economy of time is a central mechanism of the blogosphere. I wonder, then, if there isn't a certain privilege associated with this economy of time. That is successful bloggers have more of it to spare. This might mean that more often the successful blogger is a tenured professor (although Christine Hurt's statistics suggest that untenured law professors are overrepresented in the blogosphere). Dan Solove told us that a majority of the blogs out there are created by teenagers (I would assume those teenagers are from class backgrounds where the afterschool or weekend job is unnecessary and access to everyday computer use goes without saying). The economy of time as a measure of successful blogging might also mean that working women with young children are underrepresented on the blogosphere, or at least are less likely to have successful blogs. I wonder if this helps explain the underrepresentation of women in the legal blogsosphere. (Thinking more cynically, I gather the economy of time as a measure of successful blogs may also translate into a reified privilege based on class and/or gender status, which works to entrench working mothers as second-class professionals.)