April 30, 2006

Decompressing in Boston.

I spent yesterday wandering around Boston, going visual after the long day of words that was Friday.

Boston

Any conference is a mix of tension and boredom, ideas and clich├ęs, interacting with other people and being alone inside your head. The "Bloggership" conference was an especially strange mix for me. On the one hand, I am surely and very securely a blogger and a law professor. These are two indisputable facts about me.

(Yesterday, I was minding my own business, walking down Newbury Street, and a homeless man hissed "stinking white bitch" at me and got some facts right.)

Boston

On the other hand, I feel that I have little in common with the other lawprof bloggers. Walking around Boston yesterday -- dodging epithets -- I was wondering if I was not entirely at cross-purposes with everyone else. At times, I exhorted them to blog like me, but I also always knew that they don't want to blog like me. Why should they? So much of their discussion was about how to get credit for blogging within their institutions and how to promote their professional standing through blogging, that is, how to exploit blogging in service of traditional law professor interests. They remind me of the journalists who mean to harness blogging to preserve and further the interests of mainstream media.

Where are my soulmates, the people who put blogging first? Are you not in love with blogging for blogging's sake, looking to see where blogging might lead you?

Boston

Decompressed, I've got to go now and find my way back home.

36 comments:

Dave said...

"Yesterday, I was minding my own business, walking down Newbury Street, and a homeless man hissed "stinking white bitch" at me and got some facts right."

Must have been one of your trolls.

The Tiger said...

Perhaps professionalization is an unavoidable evil?

I say, continue your quest to say whatever you darn well please, Professor Althouse!

Akiva said...

Very few businesses (and associated people) have the vision to cannibilize their current operating model to create the future / next generational one. That's why there's a Wal Mart and Jet Blue instead of a Sears Mart and a Jet American.

Clearly you see a new communication medium with new communication possibilities, they're just trying to reinforce their status quo.

Bissage said...

Ann, I think it is a good thing they don't want to blog like you. What you do is very special.

David said...

The mystery of blogging is the magic that comes from talking to kindred souls who enjoy the company of likeminded folks. The blogosphere is a parlor where friends drop by and share life.

Any attempts to commercialize weblogs completely miss the point. This medium is about the free exchange of ideas and credibility. These are two concepts sadly lacking in most MSM presentations.

My take on the homeless man is that he represents the MSM who feel powerless in the face of blog empowerment. The train, long ago, left him (them) standing on the platform of life!

McLuhan; "The medium is the message!" Still true.

Dale B said...

They seem to be trying to decide what to do with Law Blogs and how to fit them into the existing academic structure. That's OK I guess. It's fine to re-examine your way of operating every once in a while to see if it's still a good way of doing things.

I don't consider Althouse to be a Law Blog. It started as a mainly Law Blog but it's evolved into the Althouse blog which sometimes talks about the law. That's fine with me. Althouse will be whatever Ann decides it should be. Isn't that what blogging is about?

Finn Kristiansen said...

A lot of homeless guys can't spell (or speak) too good, and sexy comes out sounding like stinking. It happens quite a bit. The bitch part though, that was just frustration on his part.

Actually, the more that people professionalize blogs, or turn them into part of the career toolkit, the more unique your writing style becomes.

What you are doing will become scarce, and thus, more valuable, and a source of comfort for people. I would not even lose my head over it, Ms. John the Baptist.

As for all this Boston porn, that's another story. The photos are so beautiful, leading to feelings of lust and envy. Put those away!!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

At times, I exhorted them to blog like me, but I also always knew that they don't want to blog like me. Why should they?

They should blog like you in purpose. The should blog like themselves in style, subject choice and voice.

Ricardo said...

True artists often feel a little out of step with the mainstream swirling around them. But when all is said and done, it is the "artists" (and I mean this terminology in a broad, creative way) who are the vanguard of new movements, new ideas, new ways of looking at life. Artists answer a call which is partly in their hearts, and partly in the nature of the particular art itself.

And on another topic, didn't you (at one time) consider opening a bookstore in Boston? Did you wander past that location this weekend, or hadn't your planning gotten site-specific, when you thought about it years ago?

Lars said...

Thanks for the pics of Beacon Hill. I lived there for a year long ago and loved to walk the narrow streets on cool, bright days.

Douglas said...

Ann, I do blog like you, but not at Sentencing Law & Policy. I have golf blogging fun at The Golf Blog, and other blogging fun when sometimes guest blogging elsewhere. And I would do even more blogging if I had more time to spend on the computer.

The problem is, I do not get paid for being a blogger, I get paid for being a law professor. That's why I (and others, especially junior professors) may be especially eager to shift the paradigm of law professors to accept blogging as professionally valuable and not just personally valuable.

I worry that in your eagerness to be unconventional, you are encouraging others to embrace your own conventions.

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Constanse said...

Where are my soulmates, the people who put blogging first? Are you not in love with blogging for blogging's sake, looking to see where blogging might lead you?

I just started blogging and I really enjoy it. But I think that people who intend to use this medium primarily for furthering their business are going to be disappointed. The only reason somebody is going to regularly check into a blog is if it's interesting. And really, how many people think commercials are interesting?

Sissy Willis said...

Darling, we're here. I love your blog for its "Renaissance Man" quality of knowing -- and loving -- many things about many things. It's the artist in you that always touches my heart and eye, of course, but beyond that, you always stretch my horizons.

Bissage said...

Perhaps big shot law professor Douglas might worry less about Prof. Althouse's eagerness and more about his own.

Hey, jackass! Shift this!

Wade_Garrett said...

Wino hecklers aside, Newbury Street is one of my favorite streets in the country -- so many great old rowhouses and cool little shops to look at. Marlborough Street, just a couple of blocks away, is even prettier!

Ann Althouse said...

Dale: "It started as a mainly Law Blog..."

No, it didn't. Read the old archives.

Doug: "Ann, I do blog like you, but not at Sentencing Law & Policy. I have golf blogging fun at The Golf Blog, and other blogging fun..."

"Fun" doesn't really express what blogging means to me. "Art" is closer. "Joy," perhaps. "Love." When lawprof bloggers say "fun" about me, I hear denigration. I reply "art," and you can hear what you will.

"The problem is, I do not get paid for being a blogger, I get paid for being a law professor. That's why I (and others, especially junior professors) may be especially eager to shift the paradigm of law professors to accept blogging as professionally valuable and not just personally valuable."

Exactly. You want to turn blogging into something that is personally advantageous to you. Readers should hear that and respond accordingly.

"I worry that in your eagerness to be unconventional, you are encouraging others to embrace your own conventions."

I'm not trying to be "unconventional," I'm clinging to life, trying to live. I only exhort others to find a way to live too, not to be like me. And I concede it's risky, and it's hard, not just a matter of having fun.

All that said, I recognize that being here at the University of Wisconsin Law School is a very protective environment. I have no trouble submitting annual reports that refer to the blog and estimate the percent that is legal commentary.

Susan: " The only reason somebody is going to regularly check into a blog is if it's interesting. And really, how many people think commercials are interesting?"

Yes, exactly! I said something like that in my talk. A blogger has to be a genuine person, worth reading on a daily basis, someone you want to hang out with (virtually). I figure when I have some legal commentary, I'll have regular readers who'll be interested in what I have to say. And I think I bring some lawprof skill to a lot of cultural issues and to the setting up and moderation of discussion in the comments.

Thanks to all for the kind words and for melding with the spirit of the blog!

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: My trip to Boston has nothing to do with President Bush. Why don't you go write on your own blog? I should delete all your idiotic posts. In fact, I will. I can't think of any reason to allow them to break up the conversation we were having.

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful pictures of Boston. Thanks. We spent several months in Massachusetts during our evacuation from New Orleans, and these bring back good memories.

Jacques Cuze said...

Your trip has nothing to do with President Bush? How odd! I thought it was about legal research and blogging.

I guess since President Bush is above the law you are correct, your trip had nothing to do with President Bush.

Jacques Cuze said...

The Constitution is well worth seeing. It brings back fond memories.

Douglas said...

Ann,

Feel free to call your blogging art or joy or love, and I'll call my non-professional blogging fun (which I mean as the ultimate compliment, not denigration).

Moreover, I am very pleased to hear that Wisconsin is the sort of place that readily embraces your form of blogging (though I wonder if those who are not yet tenured would feel as secure about that).

Here is main point I am trying to mak: for those working in places that may be less open-minded than Madison, the only way professors (especially junior professors) may feel free to experience the benefits of blogging is if law school P&T committees can see some blogging as work, and not just art or joy or love.

I do not mean to encourage you to change your blogging ways, rather I am just trying to explain why many law prof bloggers are eager, in your words, to "exploit blogging in service of traditional law professor interests." In my case it is primarily because I want to get other law profs to feel free to jump into the blogosphere, even though our professional culture still generally frowns on this sort of expression (or at least seems chary about rewarding it professionally).

Put very differently, I love my job and love my law blogging because I find thinking and writing about issues in my field to be a form of "art" and "joy" and "love." I am sorry to sense you might be disenchanted to discover that my form of blogging art/joy/love is not the same as yours.

(By the way, I especially enjoy my form of blogging in part because I get few commentors as rude as "bissage.")

MadisonMan said...

(By the way, I especially enjoy my form of blogging in part because I get few commentors as rude as "bissage.")

If blogging is an art form, then of course you will have art critics. If people aren't being rude to you, then are you playing things too safe? I see this blog as a place where Ann catalyzes discussions, I guess because she thinks it's fascinating to watch them evolve. Or maybe I'm projecting that last part.

A readership of strictly lawyers would be very dusty. Jane Jacobs showed that sometimes an outsider's view can be very valuable. So topics on things other than law are very worthwhile.

Jacques Cuze said...

If people aren't being rude to you, then are you playing things too safe?

I agree with this entirely. I figure that if Ann isn't deleting a third of my posts for spite, then I *am* playing things too safe and letting the search for truth down.

Ann Althouse said...

Quxxo: I delete you for other reasons, such as being stupidly off-topic or cutting and pasting long texts from other websites. I'm not going to elaborate all the reasons, but it is not from a motive of stiffling debate, as you would admit if you were perceptive and honest. Your bad faith here is quite well known.

Jacques Cuze said...

Ah, but your bad faith here is well known too, along with your innuendo, your avoidance of legal arguments, your avoidance of examining facts, your avoidance of examining well respected bloggers, the fights you pick with other websites, your apparent inability to acknowledge mistake, and aren't those the real issues you wish kept from your legal blogger colleagues?

Example: begging for readers to vote you conservative blog diva while claiming you are a moderate. Farl.com: complaining in a legal paper that you suffer professionally by being known as a conservative.

(Bye bye post you were so young when you were deleted....)

Maxine Weiss said...

I really don't know why I blog. At first I thought it was for love. Then, I thought is was for vanity. Now I have no idea why. Let you know when I figure it out.

The homeless in L.A. are much more charming. They'll always wish you to have a nice day!

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

"So much of their discussion was about how to get credit for blogging within their institutions and how to promote their professional standing through blogging, that is, how to exploit blogging in service of traditional law professor interests."
___________________________________
You are upset because they want to make money.

?????

Peace, Maxine

Thersites said...

I in fact have a blog that focuses on issues in my particular scholarly field. (And no, I won't say what that is.) I use it for the kind of things your colleague Gordon Smith describes in his paper.

My other blog I use for other purposes.

There is nothing *wrong* with being concerned about getting tenure, you know. Or about making a name for yourself in your field. Or about how to use blogging to get these things. What is this, Flaubert and blog for blog's sake? Sheesh.

Maybe there are just different kinds of blogs. Academic blogs for academics, art blogs for artists.

Maybe if you went to a conference that was all about the fun of free-form blogging, they would sneer at academic blogs.

Slainte.

stoqboy said...

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you bathe frequently. ;)

Maxine Weiss said...

"Any conference is a mix of tension and boredom, ideas and clich├ęs, interacting with other people and being alone inside your head"

That's where the 7-piece ohrchestra, party favors, open bar, confetti etc.. comes in.

It cuts the boredom and dreariness.

Peace, Maxine

EMC said...

Dusk at pale evening / A tall slim tree / Night coming tenderly; / Blog like me.

pst314 said...

Ann: Thank you for deleting quxxo's posts. He reminds me of someone I knew who would break into a discussion of the latest data from a planetary probe with reasons why we should all hate Bush. His absence improves the climate of discussion.

Bissage said...

Maxine Weiss: I think your 2:54 p.m. 5/1/06 is brilliant!