July 04, 2007

Welcome to the Seminar

Andrew Leonard writing in Salon sums up something I have often thought about the medium of blogging- he discusses in particular economic blogging or rather blogging by professional economists and suggests that its actually rather unimportant for the formation of government policy. There is a sense here that we really don't and won't know- and may not for years- contemporaries didn't know that President Eisenhower's first activity every morning was to get up and read all the morning newspapers, President Bush's may be to wake up and read a morning digest of the internet. But I suspect that Mr Leonard is right. He beleives and again I suspect he is right that the main value of a blog is educational- again in my view that is a correct assumption- analytical blogs won't and don't at the moment influence vast ammounts of people to change their views- but there is a chance that they educate one of two people or provoke discussion. In that way say the analytical blogosphere is really to be compared to a large and rather raucous graduate seminar in which theses are presented and ideas debated- if Mr Leonard will allow me to extend the image, I'd suggest its a Graduate seminar with free entry to anyone who wishes- so bloggers unlike many academics try and couch their thought in ways that an ignorant but intelligent person will understand. Mr Leonard's image is a positive one- but for many blogs- including I hope at times this, its one that I think works.


Anonymous said...

Of course, many professional economists have more direct ways to influence policy formation (giving evidence to committees, dinner discussions and conferences with important policy makers, etc.)

Rather the value of the blogging is to open up the minds of the economists to the concerns of the rest of us...

Colin Campbell said...

Blogging has the potential to narrow peoples minds and also the opposite. People may graduate to like minds, who would reinforce their already established views. It is the opportunity to see other viewpoints that I believe has value. I have learned a lot about libertarian politics, from which I would generally have opposed in the past. I am open to some of these arguments.

I do not think individually we can make a difference, but the idea of peer to peer sharing of knowledge around the globe is very encouraging.