BlawgWorld 2006: Capital of Big Ideas, a TechnoLawyer eBook, is designed to take you on a journey through 51 of the most influential legal blogs (blawgs). You cannot buy a copy of BlawgWorld 2006, but it's free here, exclusively for TechnoLawyer members.
The BlawgWorld Team at TechnoLawyer says in the preface, "As with everything we publish, this eBook is fair game for comments." Which brings us to this review.
It's an excellent little eBook, and just one more good reason to become a member of TechnoLawyer. But the pdf format has its limitations, and the jury is still out whether the book itself might have overstated the import of these "thought-provoking essays from the most influential blawgs." That bit of puffery seems to have been edited to "51 of the most influential legal blogs" in the covering email, and also on the TechnoLawyer Blog. Like many publications printed on paper, this eBook succumbs to the temptation to call what is, at best, representative of this year, the best of next year. To the publisher's credit, at least no trees were killed in the production of this book.
The 51 essays in BlawgWorld 2006 were selected for publication by each respective blogger as most representative of their blawg. Some of the law bloggers represented in BlawgWorld 2006 have also hosted Blawg Review this year, and others are scheduled to host Blawg Review in 2006. De facto, we're inclined to agree that these blawgs are among the most influential law blogs. But just when we think we know who are the most influential, someone else writes something brilliant—and it shows up on the next Blawg Review.
While this eBook is an interesting marketing idea for TechnoLawyer, the value seems limited by the format and the delivery conditions. The concept of putting a previously published blog post, hand-picked by a writer selected by a publisher, on a pdf and making it available behind password registration on the publisher's website, seems overly self-interested. And, quid pro quo, presenting the writers' posts in a self-described collection of "the most influential blawgs" seems to take the concept of vanity publishing to a whole new level of tech savvy.
Don't get us wrong. We've been known to encourage a reasonable amount of self-promotion by law bloggers on Blawg Review. The differences are that law blog posts submitted by the open market of blawg writers, or recommended by our regular readers, for inclusion in Blawg Review each week are more current. And their relevance is assessed by peer-review by a different host each week, rather than by a publisher at an annual publication date.
Ultimately, the benefits of Blawg Review accrue to a larger community interested in law by exposing thought-provoking articles every week to a broader web-surfing audience, pulling traffic to the host blog for the "blawg review" and, then, sending interested readers to the collected writers' individual blogs to read, in original context, those posts the readers consider most interesting. This is a natural extension of everything that's rewarding about blogging. And it's open for everyone interested in law to participate freely, as law bloggers, post contributors, Blawg Review hosts, and most importantly, as law blog readers.
Update 12/06/05: Robert J. Ambrogi, a Massachusetts lawyer, writer and media consultant, and author of the book The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, presents an overview of mixed reviews of BlawgWorld 2006 and adds his own comments.