By Arnold Kling
He asked his readers to say which economists he would like to see blog. The answers tend to skew Harvard and skew left, but not entirely. The most votes went to Joseph Stiglitz (21). He is a great speaker/writer, but I think the best bloggers are good listeners/readers, with an element of humility, and no one has ever accused Joe of that.
Of those getting votes from Rodrik’s readers, I would most strongly endorse William Nordhaus (2 votes), in part because he has a knack for knowing a lot about issues that really matter, such as global warming. Ed Glaeser, who got only 1 vote, is another economist that I would really like to see with a blog, again because his taste in topics is good. On the other hand, I am not sure that Bhagwati or Blanchard (5 votes each) would be interesting enough for me to read on a regular basis.
Timothy Taylor in a sense is already blogging–the “Recommendations for Further Reading” column that he writes for The Journal of Economic Perspectives is basically a blog trapped in software that only allows him to post every three months. Had the late Bernie Saffran, who originated the “Recommendations” column, taken up blogging, I am sure that he would have topped the economics charts.
Hal Varian and Robert Frank, like Tyler Cowen and Greg Mankiw, write interesting columns for the New York Times. But unlike Tyler and Greg, they don’t blog. I wish they did.
I am afraid that Paul Krugman’s blog will turn out to be another vehicle to “fire up the base.” It would be more interesting if he were to view himself as part of the blogging community and engage in a conversation. I suspect he won’t.
I don’t know many of the economists in the younger demographic that presumably would have the most aptitude for blogging. So if you’re out there and considering it, here is what I think makes for good blogging:
–an eagerness to communicate economic ideas to a lay audience
–a definite point of view, but with humility and willingness to engage with other blogs
–a desire to identify and comment on interesting research
–a sense that you are using your blog to create a long-term written record. It can be your way of making notes about what you read, or making a point that you think you will want to come back to. On the other hand, I would advise resisting the urge to give your reaction to news stories that have short shelf lives.