5th (and Final?) Annual Criminal-Law Blog Post of the Year

Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield is taking nominations for the 5th Annual Jdog Memorial Best Criminal Law Blawg Post:

It’s that time of year again! Time to recognize the effort and thoughtfulness of criminal law blawgers with our annual Best Criminal Law Blawg Post, which has been dedicated to the memory of our dear friend Joel Rosenberg.

Unlike the other Beauty Pageants in the blawgosphere, the idea here is to provide a platform to revisit the excellent work done over the past year.

Defending People is a small-batch blog, with a limited but discerning readership. I’m certain that each of you has seen posts on other blogs that deserve nomination for Best Criminal-Law Blawg Post of 2013. Please do visit Greenfield’s post and nominate your favorites.

Here are a few other criminal-law blogs with particularly good writing to add to your “must read” list, if you aren’t already doing so:

There are still a plethora of crappy dreckbloggen out there—more than ever, in fact, as cadres of increasingly desperate criminal-defense lawyers, doing whatever the marketing assholes tell them to do “to have an online presence,” publish content-poor keyword-rich blurbs to try to fool Google into thinking that there is something worth reading there.

But the ranks of the quality criminal-law bloggers writing sentences worth reading are thinning: I browse through my must-read list and find that a dozen or more are defunct, with no new posts in six months. More are quiet, with no new posts in a month or more. There’s very little reward in criminal-law blogging.

Maybe the criminal-defense blawgosphere has played out. Maybe people have moved on to Tumblr and Twitter and other platforms that discourage disagreement or encourage only shallow discussion. My own blog-reading habits took a hit when Google Reader died, so my blog-writing habits did as well.

I suspect that if the interest in the Jdog Award remains low, this might be the last year for it.

But Simple Justice is almost seven years old, and for more than six of those years Greenfield has been lamenting the stagnation of the blawgosphere. Those other platforms cannot do what blogs can do. Twitter is a great place for cocktail-party conversation and brainstorming, but it is a lousy one for analysis in any depth. Tumblr is a terrific platform for people who, afraid that their ideas won’t stand up to scrutiny, need affirmation with no risk of dissent, but it is a crappy one for the interplay of ideas.

I don’t know of anything that can replace blogs. So unless people are tired of what blogs do—allow a discussion, not limited to 140-character soundbites, that interested people around the country and around the world can join and leave at will—the practical blawgosphere will survive.

But if there were more reward in quality blawging there would be more quality blawgs. If you are not tired of the discussion, please take a few minutes to tell a few of your favorite criminal-law bloggers that you are reading them and appreciate their work by nominating them for the Jdog award.

Thank you, and if you don’t hear from me again before then, Merry Christmas.


One response to “5th (and Final?) Annual Criminal-Law Blog Post of the Year”

  1. This post touched a nerve because I’ve started a blog, stopped it. Started a blog with different focus. Stopped that. Now I am thinking about starting back up my initial blog. Here’s what I like and do not like about blogging.

    What I like about blogging is that it has the ability to put ideas to the test without out the hassle of formal publishing, citing everything out the wazoo, and being obsessive about every point of grammar or construction. You are correct that it has the potential for engagement that other mediums, both web and off-line, do not have. But that potential rarely lives up to the reality.

    What I dislike about blogging is the reality. First, many commentators while they may be well-meaning are often uninformed and so I feel like it in any dialogue in the comments I end up explaining the basics that someone should have learned in college but did not. That’s great for the reader but not an effective use of my time. Second, many readers who are informed do not take the time to engage in reading comprehension and simply use the comments to vend a predetermined point of view. In this case the comments feel like something out of the Monty Python “argument clinic” sketch: simply a series of contradictions with the hope of an eventual meeting of the minds out of the question from the beginning. The author Steve Covey said, “first seek to understand, then to be understood.” The mantra of the internet seems to be, “shoot first and keep on shooting.” It is like a machine gun firing endless stupidity and drivel.

    I’m going to be impolitic for a moment and say that one of the reasons that blogging has such little reward is because most blog readers stink. I often feel like I am only talking to myself. And if I’m going to only talk to myself I can go for a walk in the wood and accomplish that, no need to waste the effort to put it out on the web.

    So I do not know. I love the idea of having a discussion that exists beyond the limitations of my own professional affiliations and personal social circle. But that dream always seems to come crashing down in a reality of ignorance and agenda-driven marketing.

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