EJIL already has a homepage www.ejil.org, the autonomous website of the European Journal of International Law. Our website was a pioneer long before publishers such as our current publisher, OUP, moved into digital journal publishing, and it is distinct from all other mainline journals of which we are aware. Not only is a sizeable portion of current content made free to the reader, but all content becomes free one year after publication – the scholarly world’s Napster! I say all this to indicate that we are not parvenus to the notion of digital internet publishing.
The decision to experiment with a blog – and an experiment it is – was decidedly not a bandwagon effect – they all have it, so should we. It is the result of serious reflection of the Editorial Board, with our Scientific Advisory Board, on the evolving relationship between traditional and digital forms of scholarship and publishing. In its first twenty years, EJIL from time to time made huge efforts to provide ‘services’ e.g. the now defunct service on decisions of the ECJ on matters of International Law or our running commentary on decisions of the WTO Appellate Body of importance to public international lawyers. That, for the most part, has become a redundant and futile exercise rendered such by the power of ‘search engines’ and the ubiquity of primary sources on the internet. EJIL also tried to be ‘topical’ by, e.g.,trying to hold symposia on recent decisions of the ICJ, or an ILC Report, or certain ‘incidents’ as soon as possible after the event. In the old days a time lag of six to nine months was considered very topical. That has become laughable – our production process, even at its best, is a tortoise to the internet hare.
And yet, there is, we think, an EJIL sensibility – with, say, its panache for the theoretical article, for aggressively bringing in younger scholars, for its intellectually diverse modes of analysis, realism mixed with doctrine, a strong appeal to, and interest in, history, to mention but a few. (To some Europeans, too Americanized; to some Americans, too European – we take comfort in that debate…). If our new blog EJIL:Talk! is successful, it will continue to reflect those EJIL sensibilities on the internet but enable us to effect a certain mutation in the identity of EJIL itself: We will give increasing preference to articles which deal with the fundamentals, with First Things, which look at an ‘Incident’ or ‘decision of a Tribunal’ with a view to exploring wide systemic meaning; in short, to articles which we predict will have lasting value – that will be interesting four or five or more years after publication. EJIL:Talk! and EJIL may thus complement each other. Note – we hope it does not provoke just short off the cuff academic gossipmentary, but short, incisive, even well-researched pieces which should simply be thought of as a different genre of writing, not unlike the difference between an article and a book.
Our plan is to allow the members of our Scientific Advisory Board to host the blog on a rotating basis, with Dapo Akande serving as our inaugural guest editor.
Please help make EJIL:Talk! a successful blog and, indirectly, EJIL an even more successful Journal.