How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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It is unfortunate that many people distributed Posner's definition. The definition is in an introductory post. As matter of fact the post is entitled "Introduction to the Becker-Posner Blog." The "definition" is followed by a two paragraphs containing words about the blog and its authors. The post concludes with a few words of thanks. In this context, it seems Posner did not intend to set forth a comprehensive definition. I imagine, if he intended to so, he would have dedicated an entire post to the subject.

David Giacalone

I agree with JR that Posner was not trying to write a definitive definition of a weblog. He was speaking about one aspect of weblogging that appeared useful to him.

Attempting to define a type of communication or publishing technology in terms of the content of the medium, or the quality or organization of the content, seems inherently foolish -- try doing it with the printing press or the telephone. The split between serious and trivial web-logging, for example, is demonstrated in the Perseus White Paper -- The Blogging Iceberg (by Jeffrey Henning, Perseus COO, 2003). It is no surprise -- given human nature -- that the vast majority of weblogs tend toward the trivial, as does most printed and telephonic communication.

For those too busy to click through, here's an excerpt from my post (Oct. 04, 2003) called Does the Blogosphere exist?, which discussed the Perseus White Paper:

Perseus estimates that 4.12 million blogs have been created on the major weblog hosting services. However, 66% of the surveyed blogs "had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned." Henning continues that:

"Apparently, the blog-hosting services have made it so easy to create a blog that many tire-kickers feel no commitment to continuing the blog they initiate. In fact, 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days."

"Blogs are updated much less often than generally thought. Active blogs were updated on average every 14 days. Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily."

"Blogs are currently the province of the young, with 92.4% of blogs created by people under the age of 30."


When you say "blog" most people think of the most popular weblogs, which are often updated multiple times a day and which by definition have tens of thousands of daily readers. These make up the tip of a very deep iceberg: prominently visible, but not characteristic of the iceberg as a whole.

What is below the water line are the literally millions of blogs that are rarely pointed to by others, since they are only of interest to the family, friends, fellow students and co-workers of their teenage and 20-something bloggers. Think of them as blogs for nanoaudiences.

Blogging is many things, yet the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life. It will be written very informally (often in "unicase": long stretches of lowercase with ALL CAPS used for emphasis) with slang spellings, yet will not be as informal as instant messaging conversations (which are riddled with typos and abbreviations). Underneath the iceberg, blogging is a social phenomenon: persistent messaging for young adults.

The post continues with my own conclusions:

The study makes one thing clear: there are both trivial and serious forms of (attempts at) web log usage, and only a tiny portion of web log creators are attempting to engage in "serious" public communication. Most are merely socializing.

These are important findings for all who have hoped that weblogging technology itself would bring about a great change in social consciousness. As with other breakthroughs in communications technology -- such as the printing press and telephone -- the substance of the communications could not have been predicted early in their evolution, nor could their social effects. Frankly, however, you wouldn't have to be a curmudgeon to conclude that the lowest common denominator seems to dominate.

Webloggers (especially the early pioneer-cheerleaders) have perpetrated, enabled and perpetuated the generalizations that the non-initiated make about welbogs -- by acting as if every advance or triumph of any weblog was a triumph for all weblogs, and any slight against any weblog an insult to all webloggers. I look forward to Evan working toward a functional definition, while debunking any misguided or distorted content-oriented definition.


David, If you ever have a little extra time, the blogspot blogs have a 'next blog' link at the top of each that take you to a randomly selected blog. I did that yesterday for a little while and it's fairly entertaining for a short amount of time.

You wind up with teen girls, very obscure political blogs, goth kids, Icelanders, lots of blogs in Spanish and the occasional gem.

David Giacalone

Steve, My opinion of the intelligence, common sense, and good taste of the human race is already quite low, thank you, after 55 years of observing our species. I wonder if that's what the evolutionists mean be "random selection."


I know what you were trying to do with the style of your post, Evan, but you failed. You are still much more readable than Judge Posner.


Rich: As I said, back to the drawing board . . .


Rich: As I said, back to the drawing board . . .

I scanned the post this morning and thought, "WTF?" I read it once awake and thought it was very funny. Perhaps parody should be served late in the evening, after we've all had our drug of choice?


Ms Feverish, a student of the blog, has an interesting take on the subject.

David Giacalone

If a satirist falls on his face in the woods, does he get muddy?


If a parodist gets taken seriously, has he written a convincing argument?

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