The Social Value of Blogging

I once told Noah Smith that I found little social value in many of the blogs I read online.  For some reason blogs bring out the worst in people who would never behave badly in other situations.  Bloggers refer to each other as “idiots” or “liars” and the like.  Often the blogosphere seems more like a food fight than a constructive dialogue.

So, why am I starting this blog?  I think I am starting it because Miles Kimball has convinced me that blogging may be a permanent part of academic discourse.  For better or worse, blogging may be here to stay and moreover it appears to have an impact on policy discussions outside of academia and the path of academic ideas on campus.  Indeed, academics may have some social obligation to better connect with people outside of traditional academic settings.

I am going to start this blog so as to coincide with my graduate macroeconomics course for the winter semester in Michigan.  There is a fair amount of interest in macroeconomics in the blogosphere so, when possible, some of the posts will be casual remarks and reflections on topics discussed in class.  Typically I will try to avoid technical posts or posts which are of interest only to insiders.  (If you are a student taking my graduate macroeconomics class you have no obligation whatsoever to read any of these blog posts.  Nothing I will write here will be required as part of the course.)

Finally, I am going to try to avoid falling into the common pattern of hurling disparaging remarks at other bloggers. It would be nice if readers could also refrain from intemperate and uncivil remarks in the comments if at all possible.  (Rest assured, I have my spork and a pile of mashed potatoes ready things get ugly.)


Temporary location for three papers: