“Blogging is a way of changing the relations of authority in the public sphere”

von Jack Balkin

Your blog, Balkinization, is one of the most widely read blogs on constitutional law today. What gave you the idea of starting Balkinization?

I started the blog in January 2003. My friend Eugene Volokh had started a blog in August 2002. I met Eugene at the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools in early January 2003, where we ran into another mutual friend, Glenn Reynolds. He had started his blog, Instapundit, in 2001. The three of us had a drink, and we talked about blogging.

In the fall of 2002, the Yale Information Society Project had held the first academic conference on blogs, where we had brought together a number of important early adopters of blogging. Speakers included Glenn Reynolds, Josh Marshall, who runs Talking Points Memo, Jeff Jarvis, who runs Buzzmachine, and Mickey Kaus. They were pioneers in the blogosphere, and we asked them about the relationship of blogging to their work and what they were trying to achieve through blogging. We also talked about legal issues arising from this new type of communication. I was particularly interested in how blogs would affect the public sphere.

When I met with Eugene and Glenn in early 2003, Glenn encouraged me to start a blog. I did some research and started my blog within a week after that meeting.

The blog began as an opportunity to talk to a wider audience. The late nineties/early 2000s were a very tumultuous time in American politics. There had been a contested election, a presidential impeachment, and of course, the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you were a law professor at that time and you wanted to talk to a wider audience, you did so through newspaper op-eds. But op-eds were not a very good method of reaching a general public: You could only get a newspaper to publish one about once a year, and op-eds would be edited and cut. Editors would not want you to say certain things ...

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