31 January 2011

Putting Our Best Faces Forward

Jamison Koehler hosts Blawg Review #296 at his Koehler Law blog. As regular readers of his blog know, Koehler is a thoughtful fellow — about his solo criminal defense practice in particular, the practice of law more generally, and the grander world beyond legal blogging. This week, Koehler thought about the way we bloggers present ourselves. We're known more for our words, of course, but when we show our faces to our audiences, are these formal pictures or informal ones? Which, Koehler wondered, better represents us? He wrote:
For blawgers who chose such a professional shot, I was interested in obtaining an alternative image, something regular readers of their blawgs may not have seen before. Unlike the more staged pictures of the photographer’s mother, the only insights offered by the formal headshots many of us use on our websites are insights into the photographer himself. It is, after all, the photographer who tells the subject how to hold his head and where to look. I was also intrigued by the blawgers who don’t use any photograph at all, and decided to track down photographs of blawgers whose images are not readily available on the Internet.

Because the best blawgers all speak with a distinctive voice, my purpose in doing all of this was to try to make a connection between the image and the voice. Where you don’t have a mental image of the blawger, your mind tends to fill in the details as you listen to the voice. It is almost like going on a blind date: You want to know if the image of the blawger matches your expectations.
I for one enjoyed the album of familiar and unfamiliar pictures of my legal blogosphere fellows. I don't consider myself particularly photo-shy, but after nearly six years here, the most recognizable pictures associated with me are the detail of the judge from Thomas Rowlandson's Court of Chancery (he's been the "me" in Infamy or Praise's sidebar since its inception), my Nintendo "Mii" avatar (which is my face many places online, including on Twitter), and the "Towel Day" photo I sent to Kevin Thompson in 2009 for his Blawg Review #213. It was this last picture which Koehler used when he very graciously linked to my most recent "Round Tuit" post. It's not a bad photo of me (in the accuracy sense, I mean, not the photogenic one); a year-and-a-half later, the lines may be deeper, the circles darker, and the beard more grey, but it's still me. Notwithstanding, after six years, it may be time for a more formal portrait online. Perhaps my online doppelgänger, prominent ski photographer Colin Samuels, with whom I've jockeyed for years for Google position, could oblige me and take the picture.

Anyhow, enough about me (and that other Colin Samuels). Amongst the highlights in this week's Blawg Review are posts about the divisions between the practical and academic blawgospheres, the inconvenient life of a witness, and the importance of finding and telling your clients' stories.

The anonymous Editor of Blawg Review is notably elusive when the cameras come out; at the moment, it's also difficult to picture the host of next week's Blawg Review. Indeed, there are no scheduled hosts for any of the Blawg Reviews during February or March. The long-running carnival of legal blogging is nearing its 300th edition, but it'll never make it without hosts to get it there. I've written or co-written six of the 296 editions thus far; it's your turn to get in the picture.

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