Confronting My Inner Blogger
Posted by Peter M. Shane on October 5, 2009
One spring day in 1986, my law professor spouse and I were talking to a cashier in a Durham, NC bookstore. I do not recall why, but he asked us if we were writers. We both instantly answered, “No.” We were not poets, novelists, reporters, playwrights, or popular essayists. At that point, none of our words appeared between bookcovers.
As soon as we said our No’s, however, we looked at each other. We were both in the middle of substantial law review projects. Each of us had several lengthy articles under our belts. The activity that produced these was writing. Of course, we may have had precious few readers — recall that I said “law reviews” — but we were, in fact, writers.
Flash forward, and for quite a few years now, I have generally said, I am not a blogger. I do not have a blog. I do not subsist on little sleep. I am not exactly edgy. I do not speak in certainties — or, more precisely, I am painfully aware much of the time to the limits of my knowledge about those things of which I am certain. Mainly, if I were a blogger, would not that addiction called blogging come to displace all of my other responsibilities — everything from class preparation to corgi walking?
A couple of weeks ago, for reasons not relevant here, I had to update my professional resume, and I could not help but notice something: In the last 20 years, I have contributed about 50 short essays to other people’s blogs or online journals. These started with a now-defunct online political journal called IntellectualCapital.com. A bunch have appeared in Jurist, the superb online legal journal created by my friend and former colleague Bernard Hibbitts. On campus, I edited an obscure group blog on democracy and culture. More recently, I have been writing for Huffington Post and ExecutiveWatch.Net. But there have been posts, too, at the History News Network, Election Law @ Moritz, the blog of the American Constitution Society, even the University of Chicago Press blog. Am I not, therefore, a blogger?
The one thing missing from this picture has been, of course, a blog of my own, which mostly means not that I have been managing my time efficiently, but that my posts, such as they are, appear dispersed across the Web and not in one place. And, since it is possible to post in other venues, even if I maintain a central organized blog of my own, the virtue of that omission seems dubious.
So, I have relaxed. I have created this blog as a home to all the posts I shall write henceforth whether for this venue specifically or for some other venue. I shall not cut back on my sleep. I shall prepare for class and walk the dog. I shall try to remain conscious of the limits to my own knowledge. And I shall try to write with some consistency about the two subjects on which my academic work is now chiefly focused: (1) law and the presidency and (2) the intersection of democracy, communication, and the law.
I hope I have readers. But, in any event, I am a blogger.