Can it be–a humble blogging star? Listen in.
Ringleader of the Volokh Conspiracy, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, runs a cracklingly smart and comprehensive team blog that got a record 17,000 visits last Friday. The page has the high conversational hum of a crowded coffee house, full of lawyers who love to talk about real life, too. It feels to me like a model of what blog energy can do to make professions like law and journalism (and institutions like the Supreme Court and CBS News) more transparent–a major liberation, I suggested to him. But Brother Volokh, who talked with me for 20 minutes yesterday, takes success in stride. He thinks of his site as an eclectic dinner table conversation among conservative-libertarian friends who feast on argument. It’s still a question, he thinks, how much blogging will “shake up the opinion marketplace.” Yet the low-low cost of self-publishing, the critical energy and the opinion diversity among bloggers are striking. The opinion hierarchy is at least “more permeable,” he says. How do blogs grow? Eugene Volokh volunteered that Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit has driven a lot of traffic to The Conspiracy–about half of the visitors identified by “referers.” Glenn Reynolds, clearly has become a force in that new opinion marketplace–something like the Great Mentioner that Russell Baker created in the New York Times. Eugene Volokh sounded grateful for visitors but not awed by numbers. To invite contributors from the left would dilute the “personality” of the page, he said. “We’re trying to be a big tent,” he said, “but not a very, very big tent.” And who does this much admired blogger admire? Check him out here.