Liveblogging a Law Review Article — The Experiment Revisited

December 6th, 2010

Exactly one year ago today, I floated the idea of liveblogging an article. I had asked Orin Kerr about this idea on a Volokh thread. Orin opined:

In my experience, the value of watching an article develop while it’s in progress is pretty small. Perhaps it might be of interest for a particularly prominent academic, like a Larry Lessig, who would draw an eager following. But I suspect that no one is interested in how the rest of us write article

Original Citizenship, which I just published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review’s PENNumbra is entirely a product of this blog. I developed the idea over a series of blog posts. Back in May, I first postulated whether the First Congress was unconstitutional, wondering how a Senator or Congressman could have possibly been a citizen before the Ratification of the Constitution.  My thoughts turned to the Declaration of Independence, and I focused for some time whether it could have the force of law. By the beginning of August I had put together a proposal for Original Citizenship. Shortly thereafter, I was honored to be selected to publish this piece in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra. In fact, the Law Review made me an offer to publish the piece based solely on a work-in-progress.

Throughout the process of developing this piece, I received excellent feedback from a number of top scholars. This enabled me to transform an issue to a published article in a manner of months.

The development of scholarship can take different formats. I like the idea of blogging an idea as I develop it. I can get instant feedback. If I realize I am going down the wrong path–either through my own discovery, or through the comment of another–I can stop and change course. If I realize that there is some awesome source I missed, and someone points it out to me in a comment thread, I can reassess before the paper is already completed. Perhaps most importantly, I was able to gin up some buzz about the article long before I wrote it, which helped me secure an excellent placement.

I think this experiment in liveblogging a law review article was a great success, and I will certainly do it again.