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And So It Begins...

Putting a blog out on the Internet is like being an actor in a solo-performance play, not knowing ahead of time – when the curtains are still closed – whether anyone is actually out there watching. Perhaps you are better off if the seats are empty and no one’s there to observe you. Yet you hope that there is indeed an audience, and that you do well, and that people applaud. You even imagine that you might inspire a few people in the wings.

Of course, it’s advisable to announce your upcoming play by putting up some posters on the bulletin boards and telephone poles around town, and placing an ad in the paper if you can afford it. Thus in beginning a blog, you should contact better-known bloggers to make them aware of your existence. And then you hope that somewhere in the nebulous ether of the Internet a well-placed hyperlink will send people your way.

It’s a strange form of nervousness and exhilaration, being simultaneously worried 1) that you will quickly be discovered by a large audience and then not rise to their expectations, and 2) that you will be the proverbial tree falling in an uninhabited forest.

When the curtains rise and the show begins, the opening line is important. The first words of this solo drama might produce applause, or catcalls, (or a little of both) from the audience. That first significant line can make or break the whole performance.

Here’s my opening line:

“I’m getting credit for this.”

Law school credit, that is. I’m getting law school credit for blogging. And as far as I know, I’m the first law student to do so.

Now that I’ve gotten the audience’s attention, I should quickly revert back to law student mode and explain why that opening statement is not exactly accurate. “There are a few addendums, and a couple of quid pro quos.” Let me now discuss the subtle nuances and complexities of what I mean by “this.” 

The 3L Epiphany blog is my tool for conducting an Independent Study which will be worth 2 law school credits. And at the same time, 3L Epiphany is the subject of my study. The style of my blog will look like this. (If the hyperlink works, it should bring you to an M.C. Escher woodcut, Möbius Strip II. If the link doesn’t work, remember that I’m new at this, and the “play” could still get better.)

My reference to a möbius strip is to try to put in words something difficult to articulate. Namely, I’m using this blog to conduct an Independent Study, and the Independent Study will be in part about the process of creating and maintaining a blog for the purpose of conducting an Independent Study. I plan to blog about many things, and I intend to use the blog in a variety of ways. But ultimately, 3L Epiphany will be a blog about blogs, and about blogging.

But is it really worthy of credit? Rather, two (2) law school credits? 

Yes, I think so, and I fully recognize what that will require, especially if 3L Epiphany is to serve as a precedent and a model for future law student bloggers who attempt the same thing.

I will not be getting credit simply for blogging. I will engage in some personal blogging, for enjoyment and for learning the ropes, which is a very minor part of this Independent Study. I also will post selected articles from other sources on 3L Epiphany, usually about legal blogs, and while this may provide a worthwhile service to readers, it isn’t really something deserving of credit.

My 2 credits will be earned because 3L Epiphany will provide an unorthodox technique for carrying out a large-scale research project on blogs. I will use 3L Epiphany to conduct my research and display my results. In this regard the blog will be about itself, regardless of how I use it. (Refer again to the Mobius Strip above.)

This semester I will demonstrate how a law student blog can be an ideal tool for 1) conducting significant research projects, 2) exhibiting marketable skills in an untraditional way, and 3) providing a beneficial service to the larger legal community. My hope is that 3L Epiphany (it’s nature and it’s content) will provoke valuable discussions in the legal blogosphere, and when it does I will keep track of the online dialogue in order to share my own observations and conclusions.

Although I expect that cynicism, skepticism, and incredulity will exist at the outset among many who can’t comprehend how blogging is worthy of credit, I believe that by the end of the semester I will have convincingly demonstrated the value of such an Independent Study. I predict that by setting this precedent, 3L Epiphany will become the first among many. My ultimate goal is to inspire other law students to take advantage of the myriad opportunities for actively exploring, engaging and remaking the blogosphere. I sincerely believe – at the start of a new century – that this is the course of the future.

***

Normally I will blog several times a day. I promise that most posts will not be nearly this long. But I will leave this introduction at the top for a few days, so that I can place some announcements around town, and so that the audience can take their seats. I am enabling comments below so that readers can discuss: Is blogging for credit an idea whose time has come? Or is it the beginning of the decline of law school education? Or is it really not that big a deal at all, and I should get over my delusions of grandeur? I’d be interested to hear whatever reactions you might have, so feel free to click on the "Comments" link below.

February 2, 2006 in Credit for Blogging?, Launch Day! | Permalink

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Comments

Have no fear... your forest is not uninhabited and I am applauding. I am looking forward to your musing!

Posted by: Sarah | Feb 2, 2006 5:24:38 PM

I have to admit that I am cynical, skeptical, and incredulous -- lots and lots of law students have blogs, many containing actual legal content as well as navel-gazing (not mine -- I only have navel-gazing). There's also a large existing community that includes students, academics, and practitioners, where everyone discusses different aspects of the law and legal system. But I'll be interested to check back every once in a while to see if you've done something different and credit-worthy here.

Posted by: CM | Feb 3, 2006 5:47:20 PM

I will admit, I am a bit suprised at the notion of blogging for credit, however depending upon the quality of your analysis, and what you do with the (and I hate this term) 'blawgosphere' and the interplay within that sphere, it could be something I could see as being credit worthy.

I'll pop in now and again to see what you have to say :)

Posted by: Chris | Feb 4, 2006 10:37:11 AM

Oh, and one suggestion. If the content of the blog posts are going to be close to the length of this post, you may want to adjust the width of the center column of your template. adding a little width will add to the readability.

Posted by: Chris | Feb 4, 2006 10:38:45 AM

Dude, 2 days without a posting! You're already behind!

So are you gonna be a musing blog (a la lawculture.blogs.com), or a blog that refines theory via semi-public discussion (Volokh, or take your pick), or an isn't-this-interesting blog (althouse)? Or some kind of other kind of a blog.

I wish you could pare your mission statement down to a catchy phrase.

Good luck with the project, and most of all, congrats on getting credit for it!

Posted by: Rain Rain | Feb 4, 2006 11:33:43 PM

Rain rain, thanks for commenting. I neglected to include you in my list of bloggers who first referred to me. I found you afterwards (and anticipated answering your academic blogging inquiries). Readers can go to that post at http://nobodyatall.blogspot.com/2006/02/economy-of-blogosphere.html .

Posted by: 3L Epiphany | Feb 5, 2006 4:27:13 PM

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