Mr. Balkin sees this openness and pluralism as a rebuke to the argument posited by Cass Sunstein, a professor of law at Chicago, in his 2001 book, Republic.com (Princeton University Press). “Cass’s view was that the Internet was going to become an increasingly closed-off set of ideological communities, and that people would become more extreme over time. His argument was based on his assessment of what the technology looked like around 2000. But one of the things about the Internet is that it is protean. Its architecture is constantly changing.” (Mr. Sunstein did not reply to an e-mail invitation to respond to Mr. Balkin’s comment.)
Others are less hopeful. Mr. Muller says that he perceives among academic bloggers “a talk-radioization of the discourse, which I’m not especially interested in participating in. It’s becoming very personality-driven, very combative, very adversarial. There’s a kind of ideological categorizing that goes on. … It really does start to feel like the Rush Limbaugh show.”
I don’t know how Muller could say such a thing. Academic bloggers are rational, polite and unfailingly, even rigorously intellectual to a fault. What an ignorant, patronising jerk!