Blogs and Scholarly Communication in International and Foreign Law: A Reflection and a Report on the Electronic Issues Interest Group Meeting
FCIL-SIS 99th Annual Meeting, AALL, St. Louis, MO July 11, 2006
Marylin Raisch, Chair and International and Foreign Law Librarian
Georgetown Law Center
Blogs are now Essential for FCIL Faculty Service, Reference and Collection Development:
It is the first thing in the morning either at home or at work and I am opening a MyYahoo page I created to post feeds from blogs and get access to a calendar that is the successor to my recently deceased PDA, which ran on Palm software. At the top I have the new Georgetown Law Faculty blog, http://gulcfac.typepad.com/georgetown_university_law/ and note that a faculty member has linked a copy of his post-Hamdan1 testimony from yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee and so I print this off to read later on the train home. (Many law faculty have separate blogs that one can Google). Since his RA asked me the day before about additional commentary on Geneva Conventions 1949 Common Article 3, it is useful to see what he did with the research and where it may be going next.
I move down to Opinio Juris, an international law professors’ blog, http://www.opiniojuris.org/ and see three postings of interest, one of which, Roger Alford’s “The Philosophical Underpinnings of Human Rights Norms,” leads me to the discovery of yet another blog I had not seen before, Mirror of Justice, http://www.mirrorofjustice.com and to a reminder of a classic work on law and religion; both are items that I can add to my research guides and send to the faculty blog list. The other post, Julian Ku’s “Contract Theory and the Enforcement of International Law” is a preview of a new book by Cambridge University Press, Robert Scott and Paul Stephan Limiting Leviathian: Contract Theory and the Enforcement of International Law due out in August. After reading the pithy review I decide that even though we will get a copy automatically on approval, I will need to firm-order a second. Finally, Alford’s other post, “Dispatch from Kenya: Enforcing Laws that Clash with Culture” reviews some FGM cases and statistics links I can use for my August presentation to the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, which has a focus on East Africa.
Further down on my list at PrawfsBlawg, http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/ there is a post with the header “new publication” so I dive onto that one with the mouse right away. Just some puffing of a new LSN SSRN article so I ignore it and move down to see a symposium on blogging at Nexus,http://www.nexusjournal.org/volume11.php to help me with this article. Apparently the blog Jurisdynamics, http://jurisdynamics.blogspot.com/ , another new blog for me to add to the list, has a focus on the role of blogs in legal scholarship, among other topics. Wow. Its host, Professor Jim Chen, James L. Krusemark Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota and an Associate Dean since 2004, has even written on libraries and the First Amendment law of librarianship.2 And fortunately there is a lot on legal scholarly blogging at the other blogs I consult quickly: Law Librarian Blog,http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/ , BeSpacific, http://www.bespacific.com/ , and ResourceShelf, http://www.resourceshelf.com/ , all of which are probably familiar to readers of this article already. Reuters press service (via Yahoo) and the Jurist World Legal Newshttp://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/ get a glance for anything that might spark research interest or provide context in tracking legal developments.
Finally, UNPulse, http://unhq-appspub-01.un.org/lib/dhlrefweblog.nsf a service of the UN Dag Hammarskjold Library, was worth a look first thing today (naturally some of the document oriented posts can wait) owing to announcement of the Peace and Conflict Review, http://www.review.upeace.org/ , an expansion of the Monitor of the same name and one to consider for e-journal cataloging. This much easier than going to the publications site and trawling for treasures. In the blog format, one can tell at a glance what might be relevant for a legal collection from an international organization’s publications. EULaw,http://eulaw.typepad.com/eulawblog/ also posts mini-reviews and is very helpful in separating the better treatises from the ordinary in an area of the legal publishing market that tends to be quite expensive.
In less than an hour on a busy workday, what have I accomplished so far?
While the week will unfold around more work on each of these areas, I felt that I had done pretty well before breakfast (or at least before my son got up), and I sat back and sipped my coffee just like those annoyingly smug women on TV commercials who have in seconds sold stock, bought a house, and presumably learned of their Nobel Prize nomination, all using some online service. Except this is real. And for anyone who doubts that blogs are here to stay in some form or other and are being taken seriously in legal scholarship, Professor Chen (cited above) notes on his blog:
…that Five days online are enough to persuade me that the nuts, bolts, and deep science of blog production and web page design provide a deep font of knowledge, even for law professors who might be inclined to believe that their chief areas of expertise lie far afield. Herewith a few, quick observations.
First, connectivity means everything in this world of increasing diversity and decreasing time.[link here to his article cited above]… [he then goes on to note a ]fascinating study of human factors in web browsing by EyeTrack III, an online news source on multimedia consumer behavior, tackles the old question of whether web pages, including blogs, are better off using headlines only or headlines accompanied by blurbs. Using colorful biometric information such as the "heatmaps" that line the top portion of this post, EyeTrack III reaches these conclusions:
Blurbs encourage reading and scrolling on homepages.
Blurbs boosted overall reading across the entire page.
Average number of clicks per person were identical for headlines-only and headlines + blurbs homepages.
People focus primarily on the left third of the text in blurbs.
While it might be best of web page design or blog technology remained under the purview of information specialists, this attention to blogs and the integration of the law librarian blogs into this world could perhaps bring us closer to areas of partnership with faculty on issues of common concern and lay the groundwork for a complementary division of labor. In any case the best law blogs are serious short works of scholarship or information pieces (similar to ASIL Insights, http://www.asil.org/insights.htm ).
The consensus of the FCIL librarians gathered in St. Louis on July 11 th was that we might do well to create an FCIL general blog along with the FCIL Collection Development Blog which we hope to revive and make more active. Heidi Kuehl and Marylin Raisch agreed to write up this article for the newsletter to include a list of blogs. Lyonette Louis-Jacques passed out a list of foreign law librarians available to help in certain areas and foreign jurisdictions; in addition to a directory the focused topic list for help is posted at the FCIL website as “Jumpstart Your Foreign and International Research: Use People Resources” for the SWLL Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, April, 2006 (http://www.aallnet.org/sis/fcilsis/Jumpstart.htm ).
What follows is a list of only some of the best international and foreign blogs other than those listed above:
International Corporate Governance, http://internationalcorpgov.blogspot.com/
International Economic Law and Policy Blog, http://worldtradelaw.typepad.com/ielpblog/
Grotian Moment, (Saddam Hussein trial but expert board of outstanding scholars), http://www.law.case.edu/saddamtrial/
Jus in Bello, (international criminal law), http://www.library.law.pace.edu/blogs/jib/
French law blogs:
Au fil du droit, http://aufildudroit.over-blog.com/
Droit administratif, http://droitadministratif.blogspirit.com/
German law or language blogs:
Euro Law, http://eu-law.blogspot.com/
China Law Blog, China law for business (in English), http://www.chinalawblog.com/
1. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. ____ (slip opinion), 126 S.Ct. 2749 (2006).
2. Jim Chen, Mastering Eliot’s Paradox: Fostering Cultural Memory in an Age of Illusion and Allusion, 89 Minn. L. Rev. 1361 (2005)