Economics Gone Right: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads

What Is the Proper Role of Weblogs in the 2020s?: I Asked My Readers, and They Have Said...

School of Athens

Comments of the Day:

Ezra Klein... was reminiscing about the early days of blogging and how that compares to the new, more popular formats, like Twitter. He made a good case. Twitter is more about talking to those who already agree with you and you really don't expect the person you're "responding" to in your tweets to engage with you. Blogs were often (though hardly always) intended to substantively engage with people you disagree with with the intention, or at least the hope, that that person will actually take what you say seriously and respond in a serious, substantive manner.... I do miss that meatier aspect of blogs, even if they didn't necessarily lead to energetic dialogues between people of differing viewpoints. At least they offered more of a possibility of that happening. So what I would suggest is: use the blog to create energetic dialogues between people of differing viewpoints. It could be used for, oh how could I describe it, maybe "Socratic" dialogues, but between real people even if they're not as witty as the pseudo-Greeks who occasionally pop up on "Grasping Reality".... And that's my what is old is new again idea!

The role of weblogs in the 2020's will ideally be: -to be independent; -to bring one's own expertise to bear on both the matters of the day, and what one's own thinking has deemed important regardless of how popular the subject; -to bring one's readers' attention to the words of others, which seem important to you; -to persist and be brave. We are in "interesting times" which show every sign of growing ever more "interesting" (in the sense of the Chinese curse). All of these qualities and more will be needed. In my opinion you do an amazing job of all the above.

With [respect to]... 2021-2, though not beyond.... Democrats have one realistic chance to save the country in the next generation.... The inherent bias in the Senate and the EC make it very difficult for the Dems to win the presidency and both Houses of Congress for more than 2 years at a time. The demographic projections make the Senate more and more of a stretch as we get closer to, say, 2040. That means that IF (it's a big if) the Dems succeed in 2020, they will have to accomplish perhaps more than any Congress in history in order to (a) preserve a democratic system; (b) fix the structural problems in the economy such as wealth distribution, SS, and healthcare, including Medicare; and (c) do what can be done at this late date to ameliorate global warming. Legal blogs are already discussing what can/should be done for (a). What economists need to do is outline the basic ideas for (b) and (c) now, and over the next 2 years begin to develop actual bills for presentation to Congress in January 2021. Your blog seems like a good space to begin the process...

The pressing problem... is in finding a solution to the trust problem. How do we trust the sources of information that we consume? People with expertise in an area have all experienced the Murray-Gellman Amnesia effect. Large numbers of people have never experienced this and thus do not understand the need to question what they read/listen too. At present the only place one can really get to the truth of the matter, so to speak, is by reading blogs of knowledgeable people. The role of trusted blogs in the future will be as a check on government/corporate/powerful interest group propaganda. I wish Apple News would be Apple Blogs.... Read what experts have to say about a topic who are from the given field.... In the era of advertainment and stealth ‘news’ stories that are really press releases we should abandon the association between news and accuracy. I don’t know how one will be able to monetize this. I don’t know how to get people to realize that the Murray-Gellman Amnesia effect is real or how to solve the trust problem. With the rise of Facebook, Google, and Twitter the swaying of public opinion on a grand (global?) level is easy. People are easy to manipulate. Without trusted information being readily available we might as well abandon democracy and institute a governing AI...

Since the Daily Illuminator launched in 1994, the blog has been a website which: - is focused on publishing short essays; - can be moved to a new host or domain as needed; - is as visible to search engines as the blogger wants it to be; - is skilling not deskilling (learning basic HTML, CSS, and how to get a host and a domain name is useful for anything you want to do on the Internet, mastering the platform of the week just lets you use that platform until they change the interface); - is not prestigious, but can be influential...

Focus on the future, particularly the economic impacts of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, etc.... You show yourself as sympathetic to Hayek's criticism of central planning as lacking the analytic and informational firepower to manage an economy as well as distributed decision making (somewhat glibly equated with capitalism.) Surely it has occurred to you that this criticism may have been accurate in the first half of the 20th century, but not necessarily forever. A new era is obviously coming on fast.... The question is going to be, who will this new technological/economic/political system benefit? Will it be society as a whole? Or will we turn out to suffer some kind of dystopian arrangement for the benefit of the few? What principles should guide people in setting up and regulating such a system to steer things towards the utopian and away from the dystopian? I see very little genuinely insightful discussion of these issues—and hardly any discussion of them among economists. This is an area in which I believe you could make a serious contribution...

I'd add a couple of observations.... -- Blogs are an "open garden." I don't have to be on Twitter or Facebook to read your blog. I don't have to be on Twitter or Facebook to have a blog, either. -- Blogs are always by-lined (though sometime pseudonymous) and never edited. That gives them a single voice and a single point-of-accountability, both of which are stable over time. Consequently, readers can learn whether a particular blogger is interesting, accurate, knowledgeable, insightful, etc. (Cf. major media outlets, where most content is produced by unnamed reporting staff and mediated by an ever-shifting and ill-disclosed editorial process.) -- Blog comment sections, if duly curated, can be interesting communities in their own right. Cf. Twitter...

Facebook is a pain in the ass with all its tracking and nonsense. Signing up is an invitation for a massive spam assault.... Twitter is a disaster. Maybe if there was a good aggregator or something to turn the thin gruel dribbling out into some kind of loaf now and then. If you have to say it in under 250 characters, maybe you should just write it in a notebook and save it for until you have something to say. I think people are starting to realize that blogs are still important. We went through a period where people spun blogging into money, but Google took care of that and took the money. Now it's about having a voice again. Some people actually have something to say. On the technical front, I'm pleased that some people are trying to bring back RSS or some successor. Twitter works hard to prevent anyone from making their feed easier to read and Google has long realized that RSS worked against their business model. As JEC noted, RSS is open. I'd also like to see more blogrolls.... I think blogs are like the Federalist papers, Mersenne's correspondence or Evans' Linear B updates. They are a way to follow people's thinking as it develops. Personally, I think they have a future. No one thinks on Facebook. If anyone thinks on Twitter, there is no way to tell. Blogging is like publishing a broadsheet and nailing it to a church door...


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