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Dennis Kennedy

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Dennis Kennedy is one of the most knowledgeable legal technologists you will find. - Michael Arkfeld.

Dennis Kennedy, a lawyer and legal technology expert in St. Louis, Mo., has been a significant influence in the ever-evolving relationship between lawyers and the Web. - Robert Ambrogi

Birth of the Blawg – A Historical Visit and Thoughts about the Future

First, let me recommend Bill Gratsch’s fascinating post he subtitles “From There, To Here, To Where?” in which he discusses law-related blogs past, present and future, and suggest that you follow it up with Bob Ambrogi’s “Blawgs: From There to Where?” which nicely acknowledges the role Bill played in helping organize access to blawgs.
I especially liked Bill’s overview of the early days of lawyers blogging and his rumination about the future of blogs, but I was struck by the ways his post paralleled the ideas I’ve been trying to turn into a post for the last few days.
I’ve been traveling a lot the last week, including a quick trip to New York for meetings. I had a very limited amount of unscheduled time and Marty “The Trademark Blog” Schwimmer and I were hoping to have the chance to get together the only evening I was there. Actually, it was more than hoping – we were working really hard to make that happen and Marty wanted me to come to his house and meet his wife and children.
Just before I went to New York, I spoke at the seminar on ethical rules for marketing on the Internet mentioned in the previous posts, and was thinking about lawyer blogging and the earliest legal bloggers. Although most of the discussion of blawgs revolves around their use and success as marketing (and communication) tools, my own view is that the real value of blogging comes from the friendships that evolve directly from blogging. In fact, if you look at Bill Gratsch’s list of the earliest blawgs (and I thank him for stretching the window a bit to include me on the list), it’s astonishing how many of us have become close friends, and how, if not for blogging, we probably would have never met each other.
It’s a funny thing, but whenever I get together with Marty, it feels like I’m getting together with one of my best friends from college, even though we met each other only a few years ago. One thing I’ve always noticed about great friends is that it becomes difficult to imagine a time when you didn’t know them.
So, Marty picked me up at my hotel and we drove out to his home where I met his family and had a wonderful dinner with them. Marty also pointed out the spot in his basement where he wrote most of the posts for The Trademark Blog. OK, I know this is a little silly, but I felt I was visiting a place that should be on the Historical Register. In fact, I was reminded of when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law took me to Palo Alto to visit the site of the garage where Hewlett-Packard began. Blawgs had many birthplaces, but the home of the Trademark Blog is one of the most important.
I’m always intrigued by what bloggers talk about when they get together. Interestingly, only a very small part of the conversation is about blogging. A good chunk of it is about what’s going on with other bloggers and how they are doing. It is quite similar to catching up on old classmates. But most of it is about the things close friends talk about.
But you probably do not read this blog to hear about that. Let me try to point to some of what we did talk about blogging that might be interesting to you. There were two short conversations about blawgs and blogging that Marty and I had that echo some of Bill’s post today.
First was a short discussion about podcasts, sound quality, blogs, and putting the tools of communication into the hands of everyone. As I’ve noticed more frequently in recent months, discussion of these topics tends to bring up at least one reference to Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, and the Clash. (See my comment to Jack Vinson’s post about a punk rock analogy here). Or maybe that’s just because Marty and I talk a lot about music these days. The element of democratization of expression rarely gets enough mention in connection with blawgs, but it’s always been a essential element of the early blawgs. The blawgs Bill mentions in his posts illustrate that well. As Bill says, “Indeed, all of the above people [early legal bloggers] are still actively posting, albeit some, whose careers have taken them in different directions, are not writing very much about the law anymore.”
Truth be told, the early blawggers were great writers and have evolved in the directions our writing has led us, which may or may not be “the law” as a topic and my or may not lead some of us to post about NASCAR or the Sex Pistols (perhaps even in the same post). The simple characterization of lawyer blogs as legal marketing or legal advertising has never really made sense to me – it’s a much broader and richer area than simply that.
The second conversation evolved out of the first. As blawgging has cycled through a couple of generations, it has changed. As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m fascinated where legal blogs are moving these days. Lately, blogs have become very focused on niche topics and have practice development as the primary goal. The topics are quite specific and narrow. In fairness, in the early days, it was easier to see your niche as trademark law, patent law, appellate law, or technology law – there just weren’t many other blawgs out there.
Marty and I were speculating how these newer blogs would evolve and whether it would be easier or hard to keep them going because they were so focused. At the same time, we wondered how hard it would be to keep ours going.
This led us to the point that echoes Bill’s post and Bob’s further thoughts in is post. We both noted how we were convinced that we are very close to seeing the beginning of a new generation in blogging and blawgs in particular. We’re not sure what that will look like, but we had a few ideas, but we thought it would start soon. We think it will come from a new group of lawyer bloggers, no matter how much we might like to think that it could come from ourselves. It will be fascinating and I hope inspiring to see happen. And if reading this post inspires someone who is now reading this to start a blawg that brings in the next stage in blawgging, that would be awesome. As in the old days, it probably only takes a willingness to experiment and a nagging feeling that what’s out there now doesn’t quite do what it needs to do and that a new voice is needed.
We ended this conversation with Marty noting that it would be interesting to re-read a conversation we had a few years ago on the Between Lawyers blog about the future of blogging and see how it holds up and what clues might be in there. That seems exactly right, and I invite you to read that conversation and use it as a springboard to where blawgs will be going. I definitely do not think that we had all the answers there, but I do think that those who consider that conversation and react to it from the perspective of today will have some fascinating answers to give and might well give us a glimpse of the next stage.
The next evening, I caught up with Tom Mighell on instant messaging and ask him if he had the same “vibe” about the approach of the next stage in blogging. Indeed, he did. Since Tom is my “go to” person about the world of legal blogging, I got the feeling that this was not another of my wild ideas, but something solid. Then came Bill’s post today. Something may be happening here, even though we don’t yet know what it is.
What do you think?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).
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One Response to “Birth of the Blawg – A Historical Visit and Thoughts about the Future”

  1. Much reading to do before reacting (and I will) to your profound post, but am I over-reacting to say that today (new “Eee pc” announced; see my post) we appear to be a giant step nearer that day when nearly all of us will tote a laptop?

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