September 28, 2004

Matthew Yglesias Finds Me Out!

Matthew Yglesias writes: "Academics have real jobs and will only perform the great public service of blogging about what they know if they happen to be egomaniacs."

He's certainly got me nailed. :-)

Matthew Yglesias: Where Have All The Experts Gone: It hasn't taken Ed Kilgore very long to catch the navel-gazing bug, but he's right. One thing I thought was sort of unfortunate about Klam's article -- though I understand why he did it -- is that it left out the most boring, but probably most valuable, sub-sector of blogging. Namely, the expert blogger. The folks who do this well are creating some extremely useful stuff, especially for those of us whose business it is to be semi-informed about a wide range of things. And, in my opinion, we don't have nearly enough of them. Juan Cole is great, but why don't we have two, three, four Juan Coles. Only in the field of law, or so it seems to me, are there a sufficient number of expert bloggers that one can count on a critical mass of posts emerging when something important (a big Supreme Court case, usually) comes up that let readers follow the back and forth of debate and really learn something. A related -- and expanding -- blogospheric niche is the DC wonk blog, as seen by the efforts of Rotherham, Kilgore, Clemons, and Schmitt (sporadically). This, I think, holds a great deal of promise.

Academics have real jobs and will only perform the great public service of blogging about what they know if they happen to be egomaniacs. Think tankers and other such people one encounters here in DC, on the other hand, really are just being paid to disseminate ideas throughout the world. And blogs are probably a more cost-effective way of doing that than most efforts at print publication.

Posted by DeLong at September 28, 2004 11:06 AM | TrackBack
Comments

You and me both, Brad. Although since I've never met Matt, I'm curious as to how he found out my darkest inner secrets ;)

Posted by: hilzoy at September 28, 2004 11:33 AM

Ignore Yglesias. I remember a time when I thought like him, in high school.

Pandagon are younger, smarter, and better looking. Therefore they are much more deserving of brooksie credit.

Posted by: astrid at September 28, 2004 11:39 AM

I was just happy for someone to say in seriousness that "Academics have real jobs."

Posted by: SloLernr at September 28, 2004 12:04 PM

I suppose Juan Cole is an egomaniac...I am not sure where Matt is coming from, except that he seems to take off and come from there quite often.

Posted by: Carol at September 28, 2004 12:45 PM


Yes, but you should have used the royal "we" in this post: "He's certainly got us nailed."

Posted by: Delicious Pundit at September 28, 2004 12:45 PM

I probably shouldn't mention that when I first read that, this blog did come to mind. :)

But hey, while I'm not an academic, I'm probably even more of an egomaniac, since I have absolutely no expertise whatsoever in anything that I ever post about. I guess that makes me a lot like Matt, only without being able to lord the "being a paid journalist" thing over everybody.

Posted by: fling93 at September 28, 2004 12:48 PM

I think it was tongue-in-cheek.

Posted by: JP at September 28, 2004 12:56 PM

I'm an academic, and the reason I don't blog is because 1) most of my research is mathematical and few would understand it 2) most of the comments on blogs and other discussion forums are idiotic and 3) I find brick and mortar discussions (which is why I would blog, to discuss) much more satisfying.

Juan Cole, who I think has the best blog I've read, writes his opinion on news and events related to the Middle East, I believe, because he understands that his opinions are in the fantastic minority in the US. I believe he's explicitly stated so, usually whenever he receives threats for his opinions about Israel's apartheid and occupation and then feels the need to explain why he's going to continue providing his opinion. Without him providing his excellent service, there would be no one else to provide it -- which I think he also understands.

Posted by: Adam Morgan at September 28, 2004 01:05 PM

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a More Humble and Self-Effacing Academic Blogger Community?

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I think that Matt was just being characteristically snarky.

I would say that in once sense the opposite is true. An academic who blogs, with comments, or who writes for the NYT, is less arrogant abouthis specialization than most academics. Possibly because he's confident enough about his work to be willing to talk about it with people from different fields, or even with pure civilians such as myself. And pushing my point to the limit, perhaps someone who still believes in politics rather than administrative government by experts.

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"If you come looking to learn the rules or the basics of texas holdem"

And MY complains about a lack of expert blogs. He should read comment sections more.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at September 28, 2004 04:50 PM

That's funny. I just recently put up a Texas Hold 'Em post myself. Not that I'm an expert on that either.

Posted by: fling93 at September 28, 2004 06:40 PM

Okay, this comment is completely off topic, but I can easily ask more academic economists here than any other place I know. After the last election, the red-blue maps were all the rage. It was popular (but silly) to point out how many more square miles the Bush counties added up to than the Gore counties. Where would one find the data to see how much of GDP the blue counties added up to versus the red ones?

Thanks in advance,

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