Blogology 101

March 4, 2009

Do academics make good bloggers?  I don’t stay up at night worrying about this, but as I run across an increasing  number of blogademics, I have started to wonder whether academics should be blogging at all, mostly because they sometimes write posts like this one or design graphics like the one above.  But they do have a) a lot of opinions, b) a lot of practice writing (though not always in a style suited to blogging) and c) access to a lot of good, and new, information and analysis.  

What I’ve discovered through a lot of browsing is that academic bloggers vary quite a bit – some are great and readable and some are Greek to the uninitiated… or just plain weird (as many academics tend to be).  Being a good social scientist, I’ve tried to capture the main axes of variation.  In the meantime, if you want to see a list of academics out there in the blogoshpere, here you go.

1) How famous is the academic in question?  The more famous the academic, the more serious the blog, and the more likely it is that most posts are links to things they’ve written elsewhere.  A good examples of this is Harvard Economics Professor Dani Rodrik’s blog, which is very serious indeed.   Though there are exceptions: a quick tour of Brad DeLong’s blog reveals that it is weird and kind of silly, and Willem Buiter’s blog Maverecon, although having been picked up by the Financial Times, maintains its own very particular style (see here for him refusing to apologise for this).   Those of us who are less famous, can write silly posts about eating breakfast and our nannies without fear of damaging our reputations (much anyway).

2) Are they an economist? The least penetrable blogs, or those with a particularly strong agenda, seem to be authored by one.  The Monkey Cage, a blog which I enjoy but you may not, is an exception to this rule: it is written by often impenetrable political scientists who like graphs (as do I, but the general reader might find them quite tedious).  Note that they recently explored other blogademics as well.  I like their newest post on the current state of IPE.  But again, if you’re wondering what IPE is, you might not want to read this post.

3) How old are they?  Closely related to one above, the older the academic in question, the more likely the blog is to be institutionalised, and therefore in my opinion, uninteresting.  If you can afford to have a graduate student write your posts, your blog is unlikely to be one I want to read.

So which are my favourite blogademics?  Like I said, I like the Monkey Cage, even though it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  And I particularly like Chris Blattman’s blog, which I think is a nice mix of academic info and random things that interest me.  And am I allowed to publicise other LSE blogs?  Because a colleague has one I like…

Thanks to this academic blogger for the graph, which I actually think is very interesting…


One Response to “Blogology 101”

  1. Alan Hudson said

    Hi Lauren,

    As an ex/recovering-academic: figure 1 might help me to see things differently, but I’m not sure what it enables me to do differently.

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