On a regular basis I am asked about the relationship between EJIL and its (very successful) blog, EJIL: Talk! There is a substantive dimension to the question and a procedural-management dimension which I will address in turn.
EJIL and EJIL: Talk! The Substantive Relationship. The internet has changed scholarship in profound ways, mostly positive, some negative, and has also changed the function and identity of scholarly journals. I recall the days when at EJIL we would scurry around to find someone who would write a quick comment, to appear in the next issue when, say, the ICJ or Appellate Body of the WTO (yes, EJIL never considered international economic law as a stepson) handed down a decision. Today, by the time the next issue appears, there will be endless commentary on the net and, in all likelihood, a few SSRN papers as well. In some ways, this has been liberating, since it has enabled EJIL to focus on the deeper and longer lasting contributions ̶ the standard yardstick we apply to any submission in this regard is: Will this be interesting, so far as we can tell, in five years from now? Anything less than that we consider ephemera. We do not publish case notes as such or ‘recent developments’, but we are very happy with our occasional series, ‘Critical Review of International Jurisprudence’ and ‘Critical Review of International Governance’, which usually take the form of a review of a line of cases or of a certain international legal praxis, with a view not only of informing, but also conceptualizing and evaluating. We believe these contributions also have lasting value.
The push to establish EJIL: Talk! came from our conviction that the authors and readers of EJIL are among the most qualified to offer reflection and commentary on a more immediate and ongoing basis ̶ a commentary which had been squeezed out of EJIL as explained above. Blogging seemed a promising avenue. We surveyed the blogosphere and drew some conclusions as to the identity of EJIL: Talk! It would be semi-moderated, meaning that a first posting would have to be approved by the blog masters, who would also reserve the right to remove or suggest amendments to inappropriate postings. We would not practise content censorship except in extreme situations ̶ verified libel or opinions universally accepted as beyond the pale, such as holocaust denial and the like. But we would be quite severe as to the tone of EJIL: Talk!, insisting that all submissions and comments (!) be sober in tone and, even when in serious disagreement with an interlocutor, respectful in idiom. When it comes to content itself we welcome the radical and innovative ̶ there have been some spectacular postings of this nature. When it comes to manner of expression we prefer to err on the side of stodginess. We have seen too many blogs descend into shouting matches and worse. On one or two occasions I think we have come close to the line, e.g. some of the commentary following our Armenia Genocide exchange (see here and here). I have asked the blog masters to be vigilant.
I consider EJIL: Talk! to be very successful by a number of yardsticks. Read the rest of this entry…