The term “blog” is derived from “weblog.” As Wikipedia describes blogs, “A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. ‘Blog’ can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.”
When blogging first began, primarily tech-savvy types engaged in it. With remarkable speed, however, blogging has caught on with the larger Internet-using society. Through free services such as WordPress and Blogger, and the growing popularity of micro-blogging platforms, blogging has become a permanent, respected part of the Internet world.
When lawyers began setting up “law blogs,” they were nick-named “blawgs” to reflect their legal content.
Rise Of Blogs/Blawgs As Authoritative And Reliable News Sources
Today, many blawgs are considered highly influential and authoritative. For example, the Law Professor Blog Network has a variety of well-done blogs covering many different legal topics. You can link to an example of one which I follow here entitled Law School Innovation, which gives you an idea of the general format of this network of blogs.
Because of the constantly updated content, blogs are often one of the first places that information about current events appears. This is particularly true when news is being reported on from around the world. Perhaps you have heard reference made to the “24/7” news cycle?
For “blawgs,” and this depends on the individual blawg, its author, and its focus, I find that legal issues are almost always covered with greater depth than most traditional media. Blawgs like those in the Law Professor Network are written by recognized experts in the particular subject matter. In many instances, I find the information to be more timely and reliable than traditional media. Blawgs often are more up-to-date with current events and judicial opinions that even a website such as Westlaw or Lexis Nexis. For example, I logged onto Westlaw yesterday. On its home page, I found links to 3 cases in the “Legal News Section,” at least one of which was somewhat dated and not “new.” I should note that the site has been updated at the time of my writing this post with 3 new cases all dated December 3, 2009. Even with this update, however, bloggers are still able to produce the same or better information faster.
It is also my opinion that the information you receive on blogs is more reliable than traditional media which is principally concerned about ratings, popularity of topics, and (at least with TV and radio) providing content within programming time constraints. Many bloggers are simply unconcerned with such matters, and can express viewpoints or thoughts that mainstream media outlets would not permit.
Finally, many legal bloggers continue to follow issues as they develop. Because of this, you can follow cases of interest as they develop, persons of interest, or even legal issues or subjects.
I am not suggesting that “blawgs” can take the place of Westlaw or Nexis Lexis. However, because of the sheer amount of legal information that is being reported on “blawgs,” you can conduct better research and obtain far more comprehensive results by including “blawgs” as part of your standard research regimen. “Blawgs” greatly enhance and complement its results.
Use News Aggregators Or Readers To Follow Blawgs That Interest You
My recommendation is to find some “blawgs” on subjects you research often. Make sure you follow authoritative blawgs that provide information upon which you rely. If you check out blog directories such as Technorati, you will find that blogs are rated there according to certain criteria. For “blawgs” in particular, the American Bar Association maintains a directory of blogs of interest to lawyers, which you can check out here.
Once you have selected some blawgs to follow, many ways exist to keep track of them. If you use Google, for example, you can elect to add the “feeds” from the “blawgs” to Google Reader. Other similar services exist that allow you to follow “blawgs” and to customize how the “blawgs” are presented for greater visual appeal, ease of reading, and ease of use. create more appealing, user-friendly – some notable examples are Twitter, Blog Catalog, Feedly, and Bloglines.
My reader of choice is Google Reader. However, I am not a fan of how the Reader is designed. I currently use Feedly because it allows you to set up your blogs in a magazine-style format which I find more pleasing than the relatively nondescript design of the Google Reader page. An added benefit of Feedly is that if you follow a blog by adding it to Google Reader, the blog will also be automatically added to Feedly. In other words, one click to Google Reader adds your blog of choice to both services. This provides me with added assurance that, even if Feedly were to stop their service, my blogs are all kept in the Google Reader.