About Blogs

Last night I got an e-mail (I’ll assume the e-mail was legit) claiming to be doing an academic survey of bloggers with a short questionairre he wanted filled out. I went ahead and did so (short being an important point these days – regular readers may have noted I haven’t been posting much lately, which is due to being swamped right now). Anyway, the four questions got me thinking.

Question 1 was on how I see myself as a blogger. Options (and a person could check more than one) included things like journalist, expert, commentator, idealist, and so forth. I think something is missing here. I was thinking about my one foray into “acting” (see my post this Saturday), and I think a lot of people blog in large part because we enjoy it. Just as most actors will never earn a living at it, but there’s always a shot that one could be discovered, I don’t expect this to provide any income. Sure, I hope it will, but there’s a difference between hope and expectation.

Question 2 was on the blog’s focus. There wasn’t economics, but there was politics, and there was business, news, research, analysis, and so forth.

Question 3 was on the relationship between new and old media. That to me is a tough one. I keep hearing about how blogs are supplanting old media. And there are examples here and there about how one or another blogger made a story that the old media ignored. (Think Josh Marshall and the US Attorney firings.) But… where do bloggers get those news stories that the newspapers are ignoring? Well, from page 17 of some newspaper, or from some newspaper’s website. That may change some day, but if it does, it won’t be soon. It takes a lot of money to have reporters running around.

Question 4 was on the blogger’s methods, and included options like “man on the street” interviews, “interactions with experts” and so forth. It did not include “original research” which is what I think we do well here at Angry Bear. Such research is slow and time consuming, so we don’t post it every day, but often we run numbers and put up results. Its not academic – but there is peer review of a fashion, after the fact, and it comes through comments. We help it along by making our data sources clear and making our files available when readers ask for it.

Question 4 is the most interesting one to me. If the researcher doing the survey is wondering whether blogging can supplant old media, I wonder if in the long term blogging might nudge into the academic sphere a little bit. At one point, amateur astronomers and amateur physicists would self-publish their findings. Astronomy and physics are expensive these days, and there isn’t much room for amateurs any more. But crunching economic numbers and looking at them from a different angle – that’s cheap and relatively easy and I imagine mostly will remain cheap and relatively easy.

Anyway, what do you think of blogging? (Are you a blogger yourself as well as a reader.) What do you think of its future? What about this blog in particular – is there something we do that’s unique? And what about economics – is there a special place for economics blogs among blogs or within economics?