Comparing Six Ways to Identify Top Blogs in Any Niche
"In the early days of blogging you could go to the Technorati Blog Index, enter some identifying terms for a particular niche topic and discover what the top blogs were in the field.
Identifying top niche blogs is invaluable knowledge for anyone wanting to enter, study or market to people in a particular field. It's one of the fastest and most effective ways to learn the lay of the land and get involved in the community of successful artists, real estate agents or 4-H club leaders using social media. I've been seeing a lot of demand for this information lately so I thought I'd write up some quick pros and cons of the options I'm familiar with. Perhaps you'll add some of your own favorite methods in comments."
Boxer on Blogs
Sarah Boxer, formerly a critic and reporter at The New York Times and author of Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web, an anthology to be published this month, has published a jolly good little article in The New York Review of Books (February 14, 2008) aptly titled Blogs. Actually, it's more jolly than good, hardly up to the standards of the Review's typical think pieces but then it isn't intended to be a one.
Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web
by Sarah Boxer
List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Vintage (February 12, 2008)
ABA Journal Blawg 100, Voting Ends Jan. 2
Just a reminder. As you probably know by now, the editors of the ABA Journal have chosen the "100 best web sites by lawyers, for lawyers." Voting ends January 2, 2008.
You can vote for your favorite blog in each of the following categories here.
- Generally Speaking
- All Business
- Politics for Sport
- Ivory Tower
- Black Letter Law
- Lawyer's Toolkit
- Your So-Called Life
- Crime Time
- JDs in Training
- Lawyers Behaving Badly
- Legal Profession Blog, by Alan Childress (Tulane), Michael Frisch (Georgetown), and Jeffrey Lipshaw (Suffolk), in the Lawyers Behaving Badly Category;
- Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, by Brian Leiter (Texas), in the Ivory Tower Category;
- Sentencing Law & Policy, by Doug Berman (Ohio State), in the Crime Time Category; and
- Media Law Prof Blog editor Christine Corcos (LSU) for her Law and Magic blog in the Gossip category.
Blogs in Plain English
The great folks at Common Craft Paperworks produced this three minute video for people who wonder why blogs are such a big deal. [JH]
Be More Than a Blip in the Blogosphere
For a rookie blogger, there's nothing more disheartening than seeing "0 COMMENTS" at the end of a six-day-old post. Or checking your traffic stats on SiteMeter and finding you've gotten only three page views that day: two from your mother and one from someone who was looking for nude photos of Jennifer Lopez and Googled his way to your post about knitting booties for your infant niece.
"No one cares about your blog." It's a mantra that's been around almost as long as the blogosphere. But it doesn't have to be true. Washington has a thriving, tightly knit blogging community (as evidenced by the 1,000-plus blogs that zip through the feed on the site DC Blogs), so the chance is good that at least some people will care. There are several things you have to do to help make this a reality. Below are 10 tips from local bloggers who started small and steadily found an audience:
1. TELL STORIES RATHER THAN STICKING SOLELY TO LINKS OR PHOTOS.
2. CREATE A VOICE FOR YOURSELF.
3. MAKE EVERYTHING EASY TO READ AND ACCESS.
4. SIFT THROUGH BLOGROLLS AND CREATE YOUR OWN.
5. WIDGET YOUR PAGE.
6. COMMENT EARLY AND OFTEN.
7. PRAY FOR A LINK FROM THE BIG BOYS.
8. NOMINATE YOURSELF FOR AWARDS.
9. POST WITH VERVE AND CONSISTENCY
10. JOIN THE CROWD.
2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index: Repression Shifting from Journalists to Bloggers
Reporters Without Borders' 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index (pdf) which indicates that government repression in some countries has shifted from journalists to bloggers, with the vitality of the Internet triggering a more focused crackdown as blogs increasingly take the place of mainstream news media. According to the report, countries such as Egypt and Jordan, that were not sentencing journalists to prison terms anymore, have been doing exactly that recently to bloggers. [JH]
Vote for 2007 Weblog Awards
Voting for The 2007 Weblog Awards is underway. There are 49 categories includeing one for Best Law Blog. You can vote once a day in each category. Polls close close Thursday November 8, 2007 at 10:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is 5:00 p.m. (EST) and 2:00 p.m. (PST).
Finalist in the Best Law Blog category are:
Above the Law
Wall Street Journal Law Blog
Likelihood Of Confusion
Ms JD Changing the Face of the Legal Profession
PC Mag's 100 Favorite Blogs
PCMag.com's Blog Editor Brian Heater has compilied a list of blog content destinations. Check out the list. [JH]
Blogging Best Practices
The New York Times offers 10 things to consider before launching your blog:
- Determine what you have to offer.
- Decide if your blog will be a marketing tool.
- Define your editorial vision.
- Consider the content.
- Share your thought leadership.
- Be a credible source.
- Decide who will be the writer.
- Choose your partnerships wisely.
- Learn how to engage your readers.
- Know what matters to your readers.
Blogging, Scholarship and the Bench and Bar at Santa Clara
On September 11th, the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and the National Law Journal presented a panel discussion on "Blogging, Scholarship, and the Bench and Bar" at Santa Clara University School of Law. The panelists included Eric Goldman, Santa Clara law prof and blogger at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog, who blogged the notes he prepared for the event on Goldman's Observations and Illinois law prof and Legal Theory blogger Larry Solum who posted a brief recap of the event. Goldman's notes are particularly interesting. His reflections focus on the following questions:
- "How much time should a professor spend on blogging? When is it too much?"
- "How can someone tell the difference between a good blog and a bad blog? How can the reader know if what's on a blog is accurate and truthful?"
- "What suggestions do you have regarding the format of law review articles that are drawn from your blogging experience?"
- "Law school gossip -- who has an offer from what law school, for example -- travels quickly on blogs. Has this been a positive or negative development on balance?"
Hat tip to Adjunct Law Prof Blog. [JH]
Reader, Not Editor-centric, Ethical Standards
John Dvorak, PC Magazine's man with a million opinions, writes about how mainstream ethical journalism is crumbling under the massive weight of a reporting blogosphere.
The holier-than-thou old media thinking will fall by the wayside. In new media publications, ethics are demanded by the readers, not the editors. With open forums, comment threads, and other mechanisms, the modern structure is policed by the public. Old media cannot grasp this concept.
I mention this ethics issue only because new media in general is unethical—if we are to judge it by old standards.
Read more about this in Dvorak's The Road from Media Ethics to Information Anarchy. [JH]
BlawgWorld 2007 with TechnoLawyer Problem/Solution Guide
BlawgWorld 2007 with TechnoLawyer Problem/Solution Guide is a free eBook. Actually, it's two eBooks in one PDF file.
BlawgWorld 2007 is the best way to explore and discover legal blogs (blawgs). It features 77 remarkable essays from 77 of the most influential blawgs. Each blogger handpicked their best essay of the year for inclusion in the eBook.
The 2007 TechnoLawyer Problem/Solution Guide is a revolutionary new way to find Solutions to Problems your law firm is experiencing. Specifically, it contains 185 Problems and corresponding Solutions.
Each Problem is written in the form of a question from the point of view of a law firm and organized by topic. Topics include case management, depositions, discovery, document management, legal research, time-billing, and many more — 58 topics in all.
What the heck, it is free. [JH]
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) to Blog Community: Help write legislation on net neutrality
PC World is reporting that Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) has invited OpenLeft.com to collaborate on new broadband legislation. OpenLeft.com, a blog focused on liberal issues, has been hosting a wide-ranging discussion on broadband policy. Senator Dick Durbin, assistant majority leader in the Senate, has joined the discussion, saying he'll use the ideas from OpenLeft to craft broadband legislation. Check out and join in the discussion at OpenLeft. [JH]
Clinton Draws Boos From Bloggers at Annual Kos Convention
CNN has the story. [JH]
The Blogging Revolution: Government in the Age of Web 2.0
From the report:
In this research report, [Southeastern Louisiana University David C. Wyld] examines the phenomenon of blogging in the context of the larger revolutionary forces at play in the development—or redevelopment—of a second-generation Internet. In the first part of the report, the state of blogging across the American public sector is examined, seeing how pioneering leaders (let’s call them “blogoneers”) in the public sector are making use of this new technology to foster improved communications both with their constituencies and within their organizations. Blogging is fast becoming a new tool for promoting online and offline engagement. The author provides a comprehensive assessment to date of the blogging activities found across all levels of government.
Time for blogosphere to get real about church and state
"Charles Cooper says the fuzzy acceptance of "conversational marketing" is leading to confusion among blog readers. Isn't it time to set down clear rules of the road?"
For counterpoint see: Does Relevant Advertising Mean Selling Out?, ChasNote
From There, To Here, To Where?
The evolution of the blawgosphere by Bill Gratsch. Check it out! [RJ]
Video: RSS in Plain English
I'm surprised by the number of law bloggers who do not use or do not understand RSS feeds. Commoncraft has produced this great little video. As the Company states, "there are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don't. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don't know where to start." [JH]
A Q & A With Scott Gant, Author of We're All Journalists Now
On May 15, I posted a book announcement about Scott Gant's We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age. The work was released to the public for sale today. Here's the text of an Q & A with Gant about his very interesting book.
Q. When did you first become interested in the shifting definition of a journalist, and what made you decide to write a book?
A. For several years I’ve been fascinated by questions about whether journalists are entitled to privileges not extended to ordinary citizens, and what distinguishes “journalists” from other people who make information and ideas available to the public. I found my interest in those questions intensifying in early 2005, when a number of news stories propelled them into the headlines. One of those stories disclosed that the Department of Education had paid Armstrong Williams, a prominent African-American commentator, $240,000 to promote the federal government’s No Child Left Behind program on his nationally syndicated television show (a fact he did not disclose to his listeners). Another revealed that for two years the White House had been issuing a press pass to Jeff Gannon of Talon News, a now-defunct Web site affiliated with GOPUSA (an organization whose mission “is to spread the conservative message throughout America”), during which Gannon asked the President and White House press secretary questions that many described as “softballs” designed to demonstrate support for the administration and its policies. After it was revealed that Gannon had used a pseudonym to obtain his press pass, and lacked any significant journalism experience, a furor over his two-year admittance to the White House press corps ensued, with many claiming that Gannon did not belong alongside “legitimate” journalists in the press room.
As these incidents were making headlines, a much more significant story was taking shape. By the middle of 2005, it became unmistakably clear that the Web was facilitating the emergence of large numbers of nonprofessionals and nontraditional journalists (including many bloggers) as a force in defining and distributing news. I recognized that the lines distinguishing professional journalists from other people who disseminate information, ideas, and opinions to a wide audience had been blurred, perhaps beyond recognition. Aspects of the issue had legal dimensions that were receiving little attention. I also soon realized that I was forming strong views about these issues—for instance, that journalism should be viewed as an activity, not a job title, and that “freedom of the press” is a right that belongs to all of us, not just those working for traditional news organizations. I began taking notes and collecting material, planning to write an article for a legal journal examining these issues. It then occurred to me that this discussion would interest a broader audience. So, I approached a friend who had recently formed his own literary agency, and asked if he thought my idea might make an interesting book. The rest, as they say, is history.
Q. How did you go about gathering your research for this book?
A. We’re All Journalists Now addresses historical, economic, cultural, and legal issues, among others, and therefore required research on a wide variety of topics. That work was done before and during the writing process, over a period of about 18 months, and involved reading books, articles, legal material, studies, polls, traditional news publications, as well as blogs and other forms of citizen journalism. I also conducted a number of interviews – getting to play the role of journalist myself.
Q. What is your suggestion for ways that current laws should be changed to encompass non-traditional journalists?
A. Most of the rules, policies, and practices under which journalists enjoy privileges not available to others operate either without any definition of journalism, or with a narrow perspective that turns in part on whether a person is affiliated with a traditional news organization or makes a living practicing journalism. The fundamental change needed is a move to a broader conception of journalism, viewing it as an endeavor which can be undertaken by any of us, even if we’re not working for a traditional news organization, and even if we are not engaged in the activity for financial gain.
Q. With your background in constitutional law, do you think it necessary and/or likely that the First Amendment will be revised anytime soon?
A. I do not expect the First Amendment to be formally amended anytime soon. But, like other parts of the Constitution, the First Amendment is subject to ongoing interpretation and reinterpretation. The Supreme Court’s current interpretation of the First Amendment effectively reads it as if the Press Clause (the words “or of the Press”) was not there, having expansively interpreted the Amendment’s Speech Clause without deciding whether there are any circumstances under which “the Press” have rights or privileges under the Constitution not available to others. If Congress does not enact a federal shield law with an inclusive definition of journalism, I anticipate that sometime in the relatively near future (in the context of Supreme Court jurisprudence that means roughly the next decade), the Supreme Court will have to consider whether the First Amendment confers any special rights on the press, and who qualifies for those rights. If an expansive federal shield statute is enacted, the Court may manage to stay clear of the issue for a while longer. If and when the Court takes up questions about the Press Clause and the nature of press freedom, it ought to reject the view that people are entitled to special rights and privileges based on their affiliation with a particular kind of business or organization rather than on their activities.
Q. If citizen journalists and bloggers were granted the same rights and protections as members of the mainstream media, what sort of problems might arise? Where do you think the line should be drawn between professional journalists and non-traditional journalists, and does there even need to be a line?
A. These are important questions, and I spend a significant part of the book’s final chapter trying to answer them and related concerns about adopting a more inclusive conception of journalism. The short answer is that I do not anticipate there will be as many complications as some people appear to imagine. For instance, I doubt many people not actually engaged in the dissemination of information and ideas to the public will claim that they are doing so in order to avail themselves of privileges extended to journalists. In addition, allocating press preferences based on a functional view of journalism – as opposed to doing so on the basis of affiliation with an established news organization or income tests – does not mean we would be without criteria to evaluate (and limit) claims of entitlement to rights and privileges designed for journalists. It would be defensible, in my view, to limit privileges to those who add some original analysis or content to what they disseminate to the public, which would exclude those who merely aggregate content created entirely by others. In the rare situations where there are physical constraints on the number of people who can receive a preference – such as limited seating in a courtroom – the government can use a number of neutral criteria to decide which journalists will receive it, such as a lottery system or first-come, first-served rule. But we also must not lose sight of the fact that the allocation of press preferences implicates important principles and constitutional rights. Even if the administration of privileges were made more complicated by adopting a broader conception of journalism, we should favor over-extension of preferences to denying press privileges to people actually engaged in the practice of journalism.
Q. How can we reconcile the disparity of accountability between members of the mainstream media and bloggers/non-traditional journalists? If an irresponsible blogger posts something false but is still considered a journalist, should he/she be protected under the First Amendment?
A. I am not sure there is a fundamental difference in accountability. Like traditional journalists and media organizations, individual non-traditional journalists will ultimately rise or fall based on the reputations they acquire and their ability to foster the trust of the consumers of their products. And like traditional journalists and media organizations, citizen journalists and bloggers are subject to liability for defamation and on other bases for things they write.
Q. If you were in charge of drafting the new definition of a “journalist” for the 2008 version of the New Oxford American Dictionary, what would you write?
A. Part of what I try to explain in the book is that legal definitions are sometimes different from – and in some respects more important than – classifications used in other contexts. For instance, if an imaginary private organization called the Society of Real Journalists wants to limit its membership to people who meet certain standards for quality, or otherwise, they are free to do so. Similarly, a person who has spent decades working for a major newspaper or television news outfit may resist the idea of calling an individual with a blog a “journalist” – and, again, they are entitled to their view, based on their personal notion of what constitutes journalism. But there are many circumstances in which the government bestows on those deemed “journalists” privileges unavailable to others. And in those situations, I believe journalism must be construed broadly. Recently proposed legislation in Congress for a federal shield law defines journalism as “the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.” This strikes me as a reasonably good approach.
Q. How do you think members of the mainstream media and traditional journalists will react to your book? What about bloggers and citizen journalists? Major news organizations?
A. I hope everyone interested in journalism and its vital role in our society will find the book interesting and its subject important. I nevertheless expect there will be resistance to some of my arguments. The view, held by some, that the only legitimate journalism is carried out by those working for established news organizations will not be readily abandoned. But most “mainstream” or traditional journalists also recognize the danger of having the government decide who is a journalist, or allocate preferences based on its judgment about what journalism is worthwhile, and many of my arguments are animated by that same concern.
Rationalizing Internet Safe Harbors
Stanford Law Prof Mark Lemley has deposited Rationalizing Internet Safe Harbors in SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Internet intermediaries - service providers, Web hosting companies, Internet backbone providers, online marketplaces, and search engines - process hundreds of millions of data transfers every day, and host or link to literally tens of billions of items of third party content.
Some of this content is illegal. In the last 12 years, both Congress and the courts have concluded that Internet intermediaries should not be liable for a wide range of content posted or sent through their systems by another. The reasoning behind these immunities is impeccable: if Internet intermediaries were liable every time someone posted problematic content on the Internet, the resulting threat of liability and effort at rights clearance would debilitate the Internet.
While the logic of some sort of safe harbor for Internet intermediaries is clear, the actual content of those safe harbors is not. Rather, the safe harbors actually in place are a confusing and illogical patchwork. For some claims, the safe harbors are absolute. For others, they preclude damages liability but not injunctive relief. For still others they are dependent on the implementation of a “notice and takedown” system. And for at least a few types of claims, there is no safe harbor at all. This patchwork makes no sense. In this article, I suggest that it be replaced with a uniform safe harbor rule. A single, rationally designed safe harbor based on the trademark model would not only permit plaintiffs the relief they need while protecting Internet intermediaries from unreasonable liability, but would also serve as a much needed model for the rest of the world, which has yet to understand the importance of intermediaries to a vibrant Internet.