Arnold Kling  

New Year's Blogging Resolutions

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The Economics of Cities... When Experts Fail...

Pete Boettke writes,


we are convinced that Mises and Hayek identified in the 1930s through the 1950s the central elements of sound economic and social analysis: the problem of economic calculation and the division of knowledge; the cultural and institutional conditions which make possible social cooperation under the division of labor; and the arranging (and re-arranging due to changing circumstances) of heterogeneous and multi-specific capital goods into a coherent production plan that must mesh with diverse consumer demands.

That is part of a New Year's renaming of his group blog. Read the whole thing. It got me thinking about making New Year's resolutions for my own blogging.

I started my first blog late in 1999. It was "The Internet Bubble Monitor," and its goal was to satirize the valuations of Internet stocks. In less than a year, the bubble had popped, and there was no longer a point to the satire. I switched to writing an educational economics blog, called "Great Questions of Economics." This later became EconLog.

Some time around 2004, it began to appear to me that group blogs (Corner, Volokh Conspiracy) were the wave of the future. EconLog became a group blog, adding Bryan Caplan and, more recently, David Henderson. They have made outstanding contributions. Oddly enough, since I have started using an RSS reader to follow blogs, I have become less enamored of the group concept. In fact, I just checked and it turns out that none of the blogs to which I currently subscribe is a large group effort (I do not subscribe to Corner or Volokh). My revealed preference using RSS is to read blogs written by one or two people.

The following blogging resolutions for 2010 are my own--they do not necessarily reflect the views of Bryan or David:

1. Try to focus long term. Prefer topics that can be developed into continuing themes. Here are some themes that currently interest me (with the first two, you will notice overlap with the themes cited by Boettke):

(1a) the conflict between those who favor policy decisions made by experts and those of us who favor trial-and-error market processes

(1b) the rules that people choose to live by, including how the rules are arrived at, how well they work, and how one might go about trying to change them.

(1c) the causes and consequences of economic growth (a main theme in FP2P, my recent book with Nick Schulz)

(1d) problems with mainstream economics, as I see it, and corresponding advantages of Masonomics. The Recalculation Story has been a prominent part of this lately.

2. Continue to discuss issues of political economy where fundamental reform is vital, including

(2a) government's accumulation of liabilities, including liabilities embedded in entitlement programs

(2b) reforms that would disperse power (a main point of my other recent book, Unchecked and Unbalanced)

3. Make occasional references to topics on which my views seem fairly stable, but do not dwell on such topics. These include health care policy (I continue to stand by Crisis of Abundance), causes and solutions for the financial crisis (I continue to stand by "Not What They Had in Mind"), and intellectual property (I continue to believe what Nick and I wrote in FP2P).

4. Try to refrain from reacting to short-term issues and rhetorical point-scoring. Instead, try to write posts that I will still want to reference years from now.

5. Encourage high-quality comments. My theory is that comment quality is subject to multiple equilibria. You either get lots of polite, intelligent comments or you get flame wars. I am a fan of dousing flame wars and banning people who take part in them, in order to tip the odds in favor of the better equilibrium. I also notice that the tone that I set in my posts can affect the tone in comments, and I need to be more careful to speak in the tone that I would prefer that commenters use.


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COMMENTS (6 to date)
Buzzcut writes:

Regarding #5, this blog has the most overmoderated comments section on the 'net.

And Marginal Revolution has pretty much no moderation.

Seems like a good natural experiment to see if more moderation means better comments.

What are the controls on that regression?

wm13 writes:

I like the comments section here. My understanding is that most blogs with readable comments sections employ fairly heavy moderation. If you want natural experiments with unmoderated comments sections that don't work very well, check out Balkinization (before the proprietor eliminated comments) or The American Scene.

Alex J. writes:

FWIW, I've had comments (well, one) "moderated" at MR and none here. The most heavily moderated blog in my personal experience is Philip Greenspun's. I went 0 for 3 before I gave up.

Daniel Kuehn writes:

RE: "(1a) the conflict between those who favor policy decisions made by experts and those of us who favor trial-and-error market processes"

I would just caution you to keep a very open mind on this. Often you come across as identifying someone as "trusting experts" just because it's a decision you disagree with, when the proponents of those views would argue that there's been a lot of incremental trial and error building up to some of those positions. That's just my take on a lot of what you end up writing.

Perhaps you're really trying to get at something else - not "those who trust experts" and "those who trust trial and error" - but the KINDS of experts that you trust vs. that other trusts, and the KINDS of trial and error that you find convincing that other people haven't. It would be very interesting to get a sense of that. Just suggesting that others "trust experts" I think is really setting up a massive strawman that doesn't really help advance the discussion.

Stephen Dodson writes:

"4. Try to refrain from reacting to short-term issues and rhetorical point-scoring. Instead, try to write posts that I will still want to reference years from now."

This is probably more of a five-sixth's year resolution of 2009. The last couple of months, your posts have been particularly thoughtful and devoid of some of the more loaded phrases used in today's economic debates. Looking forward to more.

Dave writes:

"My revealed preference using RSS is to read blogs written by one or two people."

This is why econlog should offer RSS feeds to each individual author. I do not currently subscribe to econlog via RSS, but would subscribe to an Arnold-Kling-only feed. Instead, I try to check once a week and go through all the AK posts. This in turn makes my comments untimely.

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