Publication Junction

Two academic pieces of mine have just gone live on the interweb. Both are comparatively short and breezy, and I’m unusually happy with how they both turned out.

The first, “Information Policy for the Library of Babel” is a fantasia on Borges’s wonderful story about a library containing every possible book. People have recognized what a lovely metaphor it provides for the Internet, but what would happen if we took it seriously? In addition to telling us that censorship is usually futile and that authors matter less than we might think, it would direct our attention to the search tools that are utterly necessary if we’re to be able to find the informational needles we actually want in the library’s vast haystacks. Information policy is an age of informational abundance is search engine policy. I had a lot of fun putting the Borges text through a blender to remix it into an argument about the Internet. It’s available in PDF form at BePress and at SSRN and in HTML form from my own site.

The second, “Don’t Censor Search,” is a contribution to the Yale Law Journal’s online component, the Pocket Part. They’re running a symposium on online harassment, a particularly pressing issue for law schools and the legal profession in light of the Autoadmit controversy. I argue that whatever we think about the problem, pressuring search engines is the wrong answer. The Journal’s editors did a very nice job at putting the pieces in the symposium into a real conversation with each other. I’m personally quite happy with the number of ideas I managed to cram into in the mere 1,500 words I had to work with. (And to think think that back in high school a two-page paper seemed an onerously long assignment!) Get it online from the Journal’s site.

Very nice article, but “Increasingly often, they choose by using a search engine” sounds suspect to me. I haven’t been able to turn up any data either way via a quick search (ironic, but it included Google and Wikipedia), but intuitively it would make sense that the rise of blogs, social bookmarks, and Wikipedia would decrease the percentage of pages arrived at via search, even if search remains by far the most important navigation tool. Not that this takes away from your argument at all.