Arnold Kling  

The Internet, Punditry, and Scholarship

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My latest essay includes an analysis of the comparative advantage that I have using the Internet.

The Net boosts my salience the most. In an environment where what counts is reaction time, I do well. Hal Varian does the "worst" by this measure. His scholarly production is high relative to his Internet salience. Note that in absolute terms, Paul Krugman is the highest in both. Greg Mankiw does better than Brad DeLong on scholarly recognition but not on Internet recognition.

I used Google Scholar and regular Google to compute these measures. Trying to run the numbers was actually pretty frustrating. Even the advanced search features on Google are not very good at creating a targeted search that works the way I would like. But I think that the overall results were qualitatively plausible.

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
eric writes:

I think you have to distinguish scholarship pre- and post-blogging or becoming a journalist. Has Krugman really generated any seminal papers since he became a journalist in the mid 90's?

But fundamentally I think writers like yourself and Tyler are arbitraging the old "economics journalist". Say most high-powered economists are rated "10" in the sophistication of the economics arguments, Joe six-pack's economics sophistication a 0, and the average journalist a 5, and the average economics journalist a 7. Previously an economics journalist with little or no formal training had monopoly control over how his colleagues and thus Joe six-pack interpreted the economic issues of the day. But now people like you and Bryan can clearly dominate these guys, so average journalists, and thus average voters, see issues defined more accurately: nonobvious long-run or indirect effects that are the result of extended study. Journalists now can't get away with some errant nonsense or look foolish.

Will you or Tyler win the Nobel prize? Probably not. But there's great value to what you do, and Nobel prize winners probably couldn't do what you are good at.

Hal Varian writes:

Very interesting. But it seems to me that the big difference is that everyone in your list but me has a blog to which people can link. (OK, Krugman doesn't have an official blog, but he has an unofficial "archive".)

I have thought about starting a blog, but since I can barely get through my email these days, I'm not sure where I would find the time or the energy. Sigh.

Hei Lun Chan writes:

The average journalist knows as much economics as Joe six-pack.

Arnold Kling writes:

Hal, my guess is that Krugman's archive is not what accounts for his high hit count in Google. It's that what he writes in his NYT columns gets a lot of attention on the Web.

Barkley Rosser writes:

And some of us are just plain lazy and co-blog on the back of somebody else who manages the details and grunt work on a day-to-day basis.

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