Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ExpressO + Explorer = Exploitation

Fat Tony

Sorry, folks. There's no other conclusion I can draw. ExpressO's emergence as the law review world's equivalent of Internet Explorer equals exploitation. And all because some law reviews are bent on bringing about this state of affairs.

ExpressO, I'm sure, is a perfectly good service. I don't really know first-hand, to be frank, because I've never used it. Why not? Because it is far too expensive at any price above $0. The information that John Doyle gives away for free at his fantastic law review website enables anyone capable of writing a law review article to submit articles by journal-specific upload, e-mail, or U.S. mail.

Till now, that is. An insidious group of law reviews -- you know exactly who you are -- has strangely elected to declare ExpressO their exclusive method for receiving submissions. There is no good reason for this. Yes, the more highly regarded law reviews approach or break the barrier of 10,000 submissions a year. Here are two solutions that cost next to nothing and, even better, don't enrage the legal professoriate:
  • Set up a special e-mail account for unsolicited articles.

  • Write a small .asp, .php, or .cgi server-side application to upload files. Code for webmail applications can be had for the price of a well crafted Google search. It looks cool, too, and it makes even the most primitive websites seem slick.
By all means, law review editors of America, accept ExpressO submissions. But exclusivity? As in refusing to accept submissions sent by regular or electronic mail? Why would you ever do that? True, most law professors will pay ExpressO's toll -- or, more accurately, they will let their law schools buy an institutional site license for ExpressO. But at the margin, which after all is the only place that matters in economics, some would-be authors might shop their articles elsewhere.

Whatever their motivation, these law reviews' insistence on ExpressO, to the exclusion of other perfectly effective means of communication, is empowering exactly one party: ExpressO. Indeed, every law review that switches to an "exclusively ExpressO" basis for accepting unsolicited submissions brings ExpressO one step closer to becoming the Internet Explorer of legal academia: ubiquitous solely by virtue of ubiquity.

Against the inevitable onset of exploitation, alas, I offer only this feeble and token gesture of resistance:


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