Econo-Bloggers and the Public Good
| Peter Klein |
An interesting result from Aaron Schiff’s survey of econo-bloggers (I was a respondent):
There [was] a series of questions asking respondents to rate factors according to their importance as motivations for blogging on a scale of 1 to 5. “Fun or entertainment,” ”To raise my profile,” “Contribute to policy/political debates,” “To educate the public or disseminate research.” and “As a way of recording thoughts or ideas” were rated highest, all with a median score of 4. “Contribute to academic debates” had a median of 3, “To get reader feedback from comments” and “To improve writing skills” both scored 2, while “Actual or potential direct income” and “Actual or potential indirect income” both had a median of 1.
Economists’ desire to educate the public and to disseminate research, for the public good, is generally underrated, especially among non-economists. However, the pecuniary motives from blogging may be stronger than Aaron’s analysis suggests; the immediate rewards are few, but raising one’s profile has obvious long-term career benefits (as in the open-source case).
NB: Contrary to common belief, academic bloggers don’t think about blogging 24/7. A few times during the ASSA meeting I’d pull out my laptop during a session, to take notes or to work on my own presentation, and a panelist would ask me afterwards: “Were you blogging about me?”