Why (More) Applied Economists Should Blog

Yesterday I gave a presentation in my department’s Brown Bag Seminar, entitled, “Blogging for (Applied) Economists: Dissemination and Popularization of Modern Academic Research”.

I was motivated to give a presentation about this topic due to my perception that blogging is increasing in importance in the applied and agricultural economics discipline. Much of what is presented is a mix of my own experience blogging, with the insights of others like Marc Bellemare, Chris Blattman, and Ezra Klein. So, this all may not be all that new or novel for some of you. My goal was to convince and equip a handful in the audience to begin to blog regularly. (It’s still too early to tell if I was successful.)

The presentation slides are available here.

I began the presentation by likening blogs to lighthouses. My intention was to paint blogs like public goods with additional private returns. Like lighthouses, if you’ve read any Ronald Coase. This illustration was not very well received. Primarily with the objection that lighthouses are subject to some sort of institutionalized measure of quality. Blogs, on the other hand are not. Anyone can blog, not anyone can build a lighthouse.

To this I say, point taken.

But, (good quality) blogs still (can) provide important private returns and (good quality) blogs have substantial positive externalities. In the presence of these externalities, there may be an undersupply of good applied and agricultural economics blogs. (Yes, I was giving this presentation a room full of economists. Sorry if this argument doesn’t convince you.)

I promised during the presentation to provide links to other resources useful to those who are interested in starting a blog. So here is a good list to start with, to the best of my knowledge. There are many helpful links within the links that follow, from folks like Austin Frakt, Penelope Trunk, The Huffington Post, and others.

  • Chris Blattman (let’s call him the king of self-run applied research bloggers) has many tremendous resources:

Your Guide to Blogging
On Academic Blogging
Here is a link to his website’s search page, when I searched for the word “blogging”, if you want to leap down the rabbit hole.

  • Marc Bellemare has a great list of tips (many of which I included in my presentation)

What I’ve Learned from from A Year of Blogging

  • Ezra Klein (Editor in Chief of Vox.com) gave a tremendous seminar at the World Bank on popularizing research. If you are interested in getting your research onto the desks of those who need to read it, this is a useful way to spend an hour or so.

Ezra Klein Takes On the World Bank

2 thoughts on “Why (More) Applied Economists Should Blog

  1. Pingback: Should More Academics Blog? |

  2. Pingback: More Thoughts on Blogging: A Review | Jeff Bloem

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