Reflections on a Semester of Blogging

Before this semester, I had flirted with the Econ/Finance blogosphere in the past. Since my freshmen year I have subscribed to either the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times, in order to learn about finance, economics, and general current events. My favorite blogs were the Financial Times’s FT Alphaville, which provided a look at many interesting topics in finance and NYT’s DealBook, which has a more specific investment banking focus (which is the industry I will be working in after graduation). Through my initial interest in these sites, I branched out to occasionally read economics blogs such as Greg Mankiw’s blog, Paul Krugman’s NYT column, or Marginal Revolution. Even while I was exposed somewhat to the finance/economics blogosphere prior to entering the class, a semester in Econ 411 gave me a greater understanding and appreciation for the communications medium of economic blogging.

From a reader’s perspective, it is clear that we are in a golden age of economic discourse thanks to blogging. Prominent economists, like Krugman and Mankiw can post lengthy analysis posts or quick rebuttals to posts by others. Economists from smaller schools like Scott Sumner from Bentley who writes The Money Illusion or Tyler Cowen of George Mason University at Marginal Revolution can develop big followings. Blogging provides a great medium for economists of all schools of thought to provide analysis and commentary on modern economic ideas and argue their points against another. It is less formal and work intensive than writing economic papers, and is capable of reaching a wider, less academic audience. The financial crisis left many average, college educated Americans wondering about how macroeconomics worked and in search of answers – the economics blogosphere seems to have risen to meet this demand.

From a writers perspective, I found blogging to be rewarding, although at times very challenging and laborious. The class requirement to write three posts a week proved to be relatively time consuming. At times, I was willing to sacrifice the quality of my post in order to get one done on time. I personally think the blogging component of the class would’ve been better if we had more time to do less blog posts. Perhaps a requirement of four posts a month would have been sufficient to allow us to write better long form posts that were heavier on analysis rather than quick news commentary. I did really enjoy following the news and other blogs closely. I discovered Aswath Damadoran’s Musings on Markets, a corporate finance blog, Professor Kimball’s Supply Side Economics blog, and Noah Smith’s Noahpinion blog, all of which I will certainly continue to follow. It has not always been easy, but the experience of learning to blog and voice an opinion on important economic matters is one that I will carry with me as I begin my professional career.

5 thoughts on “Reflections on a Semester of Blogging

  1. alexfigu@umich.edu'alexfigu

    I would agree with your comment about 3 blogs a week being too much. There were many times where I was forced to quickly write blogs without properly developing my ideas, due to time and work constraints. Overall the blogging process was very beneficial but too many blogs on top of an already busy schedule inevitably led to my blogs demise.

  2. zsalem

    I can honestly say that I hardly understood a thing about economic/financial news until this semester. Now I appreciate it immensely. Three posts a week wasn’t so bad at first (got a little cumbersome later) since it really forced me to write. Now I don’t get writers block and I just try to have fun with it the news and forming opinions based off what I get to read.

  3. sekoch

    I find your reflection very accurate of my own experiences. It was very beneficial to find and become acclimated to the blogosphere, as I now have a great source when trying to find or better understand economic news or concepts. I found 3 blogs per week to be a good challenge, but would admit there were days where I had to sacrifice quality for the sake of time. However, I do think that having the short-term requirements is useful. It kept me up-to-date with current events, which may not have been the case if we had until the end of the month to write our posts.

  4. enjar

    I kinda agree that 3 posts per week was sometimes thought to be many. I would say blogging twice a week could be as good as what we have done.
    Blogging helped me to explore economic theories I had wanted to read. Also, it encouraged me to give at least a look at economic research papers and draw inference from them

  5. nickcoll

    I completely agree with the above post and the comments. Being forced to blog really helped me find what areas of economics and finance interest me the most because those were always the easiest. I found I focused more on international, political issues and energy issues. Its really helped me expand my thinking and how I research ideas.

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