Paul Kedrosky, highly visible Internet/Money guy, tweets: “So strange to see people talking about future of blogs in 2013. Blogs still exist?” (His own blog is now just a daily tweetpendium.) Paul’s smart, but that’s ridiculous.

Just to warm up, here’s some recent random blog brilliance, harvested from less-than-a-month-old tabs in the nearest browser.

What Matters · We increase and improve our body of knowledge through conversation. When this involves serious issues, those that matter, the appropriate unit is, more or less, the essay; neither very-long nor very-short form.

I claim that right now, in the second decade of the current millennium, the quality of conversations about what matters is at an all-time high. No, not in the corridors of power. Nor, unfortunately, in the official channels for academic publishing. It’s the blogs, stupid.

Macroeconomics · My evidence is anecdotal but I think convincing. First, Paul Krugman in In Praise of Econowonkery argues that all the macroeconomic debate that matters is happening in blog form.

Software · Second, I would appeal to the notion of the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

So... bearing that in mind, let’s look at my own profession, where I observe the opposite; that the work which is pushing back the frontiers of software engineering, and the arguments about things that matter between people who know, are overwhelmingly blogged. It is a rare week when I don’t read something about the art and craft of programming that doesn’t widen my eyes and expand my mind. Random recent-browser-tab examples:

I observe a sort of reverse-Murray-Gell-Mann-effect. Not that that’s proof or anything, but it’s useful evidence.

Politics · I’m not a political professional, but I’m a student and fan of the process. And, near as I can tell, all the serious political discourse, that which is contentful and principled and nuanced, is on blogs. I could name names, but I’m not going to bother because I suspect everyone else who actually cares about politics is already nodding.

So maybe politics and software and macroeconomics are unique and weird, in that in each of them, serious discourse has basically moved to online-essay form. But that would be surprising.

Me, I remain proud to be a citizen of the blogosphere.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Bud Gibson (Jun 02 2013, at 18:15)

I'm not convinced it's reverse Murray-Gellman with blogs. Rather, they're the primary sources per your account.

Academic journals have long been behind the times in fields like computer science. I think the big thing that's happened in the past decade and a half is that the conversation has moved from conferences to online. Further, the axis of innovation has squarely moved onto the net and into web scale computing platforms.

Universities, once the entities that could afford computing infrastructure, are now outsourcing it to Amazon.

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From: John Cowan (Jun 02 2013, at 22:28)

Eh, to people who only care about the New New Thing, blogs are indeed dead. So is the Web in general; indeed, so is email.

Toasters have been dead in the same sense for a long long time, and not because they couldn't use improvement. (It should be obvious that a toaster needs both a thermostat and a timer in that order, but try finding one that has both.) But they're still used to make an awful lot of toast.

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From: bob (Jun 03 2013, at 09:13)

It's this attitude about blogs, "they still exist?", that has led to the unfortunate demise of Google Reader (which I used to find this blog post). Google would much rather we get our news from Google+ than Google Reader. Long after Google turns off the lights on Reader, there will still be more RSS subscriptions out there than Google+ subscriptions, because blogs still matter.

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From: Tom Purl (Jun 03 2013, at 12:42)

This is a wonderful and spot-on post. My favorite thing about the web is exchanging meaningful, well thought out ideas, and the best way I've seen to do that is with blogging.

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From: Ian Rae (Jun 04 2013, at 06:07)

Blogs are also the right size. Long enough to explain something interesting, but short enough to read during a busy day.

Another great economics blog is Nick Rowe's http://worthwhile.typepad.com/

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From: Ian (Jun 07 2013, at 16:08)

Hear hear! Or should I say "Read read!"

Blogs are alive and well and will remain so for as long as people care to share their thoughts in comments longer than 140 characters.

Nothing wrong with Twitter, Yammer et. al., there is plenty of room for all.

It is a great time to be a thinker. :)

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From: Tony Fisk (Jun 10 2013, at 05:50)

My own take on blogs is that they are online diaries; which have a long and rich tradition (especially if made discrete)

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