Do you ever have the feeling that simply too much is getting published these days? That one simply cannot keep up with it all, that things would be a lot better if less were published, not least because then there would be a greater chance that what we ourselves publish, never too much of that, of course, would get noticed?
Technology has certainly increased academic productivity, as it has increased productivity elsewhere. It is easier to do research (so long as the sources are digitized and searchable), to write, to cite, and to publish. The number of legal journals has exploded, increasingly in online form, driven at least in part by the lower entry barriers, set up and distribution costs for publishers as well as the scandalous profits they make from journal publication. And then, of course, there is self-publishing. In the world of literature, when an author self-publishes it is called vanity publishing; in academia it is called SSRN. I say this tongue in cheek, of course, but grant me it is something of a mixed blessing. Democratization of publishing has increased (good); discernment has diminished (less good).
Not surprisingly, everybody is so busy writing these days, publishing, self-publishing and then self-promoting (attaching links to one’s own recent publications at the end of every email has become more the norm than exception) that hardly any time is left for reading. By this I mean serious, reflective reading and not simply picking up a few citations to put in what I happen to be writing, which, if lucky (very lucky), will be read by others in the same cursory manner. But then who cares as long as my piece ends up being similarly cited?
I read. A lot more than I write, and not only because I have aged and have, even in my own eyes, less interesting things to say and certainly less time to do research. Read the rest of this entry…