Anatomy of #AspenGate

May 8th, 2014

Wow, that was fast. Here is a rough breakdown of the anatomy of #Aspengate. I first learned about this policy from a colleague at a conference on Saturday. Because I was traveling most of the weekend, I didn’t get a chance to blog it till late Monday night. Within a few hours, I received dozens of emails, tweets, and facebook messages from other outraged LawProfs and students. By Tuesday morning, James Grimmelman wrote his initial post and started the petition. I was the first signatory.

By Tuesday night, the petition hit 50 people. On Wednesday, the media calls started coming in, as various outlets started to cover the issue. It got picked up by the ABA JournalSlashdotTechDirtVolokh/WaPo/OrinDeven DesaiJames GrimmelmanRebecca Tushnet, and many, many others. At some point late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, Aspen already backed down from their position, and modified the policy. Now, if you like your textbook you can keep your textbook.

I’m amazed how quickly these things change. I suspect Aspen was planning this change for months, within 48 hours they had to do a full 180.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this entire endeavor is that I don’t use actual books. I went entirely paperless about 3 years ago. I don’t have a single book in my office. Not one. It is beyond liberating. This makes me a most unlikely champion of the paper-crowd. Yet, I recognize that for many people old-fashioned books are essential for learning.