Saturday, October 17, 2009


When Denis O'Brien attacked blogging economists during the week, I have a feeling he wasn't thinking about our regular posts about IZA/NBER working papers and developments in microeconometrics. But having said that, it is worth defending why blogging is actual something that some of us bother to do despite the potential reputational risks that can result from too rapid and exposed communication.

For me, blogging serves a good function for communicating to wider audiences including students, colleagues and people outside of research who might actually want to apply some insights coming from the academic literature. It also provides a way of people outside of academia to question what's going on in the literature. Blogs help build communities of interest around the topics being discussed and are a really useful way of keeping people up-to-date with seminars and so on in a way that is non-intrusive. We have debated this here before but I lean toward the view that blogs are starting to have a very important democratic function including in Ireland, more important than during the initial bubble where millions of them proliferated. Some blogs and related forums now like the IrishEconomy and Politics blogs are actually important components of our public sphere and may actually be directly influencing public policy. More specialist blogs like this one I think are starting to provide a model for how research groups can keep information flowing and with very rare exceptions, nothing but good has come out of this.

As Richard Tol said in the comments in the IE blog, blogging is not a substitute for academic work. It is part and parcel of an approach to the development and communication of academic ideas.


Kevin Denny said...

I am not so sure about the merits of blogs. In terms of posting links to academic papers, new sources of information etc, as this blog is mainly, thats fine. But I don't think they are any more than that. The problem is they attract cranks and egomaniacs. Many of the comments on the Irish economy blog are by the certifiably crazy although the posts themselves are often high quality. However to think that it influences policy is hubris. Do you really think the folks in Merrion Street give a toss what is said there?

Liam Delaney said...

yes, I really think that many people in policy are reading the IE blog. I think it has been the single biggest new influence on the Irish economy debate this year.