Some new connections

02/07/2012 § Leave a comment

The blogging panel at the NZAE conference was great. I got to meet some bloggers IRL, and Berk Ozler of Development Impact had some interesting things to tell us about the impacts that economics blogs are having on thinking and practices. He also wrote a post about one of the discussions the panel had, about self-expression, self-censorship, and cultural differences:

The general sentiment was the need to find the balance between providing some critical thinking about a policy proposal, a working paper, or another blog post without being rude, disingenuous, or otherwise objectionable. This led to an interesting discussion about the role of culture in determining both the identity of bloggers and the tone of blogging. For those of you not familiar, the discussion at a typical seminar or conference presentation here goes quite differently than it would in an academic setting in the U.S.: the audience generally avoids interrupting the speaker and the questions and the discussion are very polite.

When I got back from the conference, there was an email from EconAcademics.org, a blog aggregator run by the Fed Reserve Bank of St Louis. It has apparently noticed this little corner of the interwebs and added it to the feed. It may be a post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake, but I figure the conference and the DI links are related to the new link love. Nevertheless, nice to see, and thanks very much.

The blog aggregator reinforces a point I was making at the panel, and one that motivates this blog. EconAcademics.org is somehow tied in with Research Papers in Economics (RePEc), a very handy service that collects up the economic grey literature into one place. These are examples of how ‘publishing’ is changing.

Publishing is a concept — it signals making my information public. There is also bound up in it some notion of quality assurance, although that tends to vary by outlet. How we make information public changes with technology. Oral traditions existed in part because preserving writing was costly. Books became very cheap in the 20th century, journals, too, and so they were the media of importance.

Electronic technology is making printed material relatively expensive, and so new formats are replacing the old. But electronic communication is also different — ‘The medium is the message’ — so our notions of what is ‘published’ are also changing. The thing that intrigues me most about electronic communication is its fluidity. It is dynamic — I can change this post later today or later this year. It is also interactive — your comment on this post can become part of the publication.

Where is publishing headed? I don’t know — but it’s fun to be part of the changes.

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