All entries for Wednesday 31 October 2007

October 31, 2007

Ok, let's try this.

You can read some scary stuff out thereon the potential (apparently mostly negative) impact that writing a blog can have on your (academic) job prospects. But that really seems to have to do with people writing about their personal lives, and that is not what I am up to.

Of course, there are plenty of happy economists with pretty secure jobs in the blogsphere. Interestingly, you can find peoplewho go as far as saying that blogs are the best way of learning economics, along with otherswho advice well established economists such as Mankiw that they should stop indulging in blogging as they have better things to do.

The latter post is actually pretty interesting as it summarises an on-going discussion on the future of economists in the blogsphere. One point raised is that given that a blog tends to take more and more of your time when you become serious about it, the best economists could end up getting out of the blogsphere due to the high opportunity cost they face. That, it is argued, could lead to a sort of lemon problem as the blogsphere would remain populated of low quality blogs.

Well, when reading that I couldn't help the feeling that my plan to start a blog was just tantamount to planting a lemon tree. But then, I really never intended to dispense my unsolicited economic advice to the world. The time will come for that, perhaps. For the time being, here is what I am going to do.

Teaching: I will use this blog to post any additional materials/comments I might have after the classes I teach in econometrics for the undergraduatesand the Msc students. There is obvious potential for some interaction with the students here and I'd be happy to experiment with that a bit. I mean, I answer emails anyway, so I guess there is no harm in making these exchanges available to the other students.

Research: I am not going to use this as some kind of research diary. I use my webpageon the department site to inform the world about the developments of my research when, of course, I think the time is right. Rather, I will occasionally use this blog to write short summaries/reviews of papers which might be only vaguely related to what I am currently working on. The focus will mainly be on applied microeconometrics papers and the stress will probably mostly be on how a general methodological/econometric problem is dealt with rather than on the specific research question the paper intends to address.

Ok, I hear you say, but why are you doing this? Well, I read these papers all the time and I find that writing down a few notes helps me a lot in improving my understanding if not of the solution, at least of the problem. So, if I blog these summaries/reviews that I write for myself anyway and nobody reads them, I guess I am not worse off. If somebody does read them, I might just happen to benefit from people's feedbacks and comments. I guess a blog can be one way of following Avinash Dixit'sadvice (he is a theorist, of course, but mutatis mutandis...):

Many ideas, and techniques for theorizing, will come to you by accident. But don't wait for such accidents to happen; encourage them. Always be on the lookout for examples, questions etc that relate to what you are doing, or something you worked on once but set aside. A newspaper article or a current affairs program or a chance remark by a colleague can get you started. A totally unrelated theoretical article may use a technique that proves useful for your problem, and gets restarted on something that had stalled.

Dixit, My System of Work (Not!),The American Economist, Spring 1994.

Of course, the next point in Dixit's paper is:

Learn to manage your time

I better go now.

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