Academic writing and the blogosphere

Following on the previous post’s links to the plea for academics to have a voice in the real world, I discovered an article and a blog post that makes some good points.

Chris Blattman links to an argument that “some stuff that applied academics do shouldn’t be things that are easily explained to your family at Thanksgiving”. It warns against the Freakonomics-ization of Economics. Blattman writes that there are academics who do well at having a voice in the real world and who enjoy it, but “we wouldn’t want the public intellectualism to crowd out deeper research”.

In an interesting article in The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman argues that

It won’t do any good, in short, to ask professors to become more populist. Academic writing and research may be knotty and strange, remote and insular, technical and specialized, forbidding and clannish—but that’s because academia has become that way, too.

This is very much the South African view about why no Economics Profs are regularly writing op-eds in the Business Day – in an increasingly competitive system you have to write for colleagues, journal editors and reviewers and NRF rating panels. There is little scope (and time left in the day) for being a public intellectual.

I think that academic research and having a voice in the real word can be complements in production, but then again, I would since I’m typing this on a Sunday afternoon one of the two blogs that I try to keep going!

If your are interested in find such a voice, the Impact of Social Sciences blog at the LSE, has some good thoughts.

If you are busy with academic research, you’ll be glad to know that the Development Impact blog now has a list of posts on technical topics!

econoblogosphere, MOOC

The econoblogosphere

Everyone knows this is a favourite topic of mine and this week there has been links to share to interesting stories:

In the New York Times Nicholas Kristof wrote: Professors, we need you! saying amongst other things: 
Professors today have a growing number of tools available to educate the public, from online courses to blogs to social media. Yet academics have been slow to cast pearls through Twitter and Facebook.

There were quite a few responses including:

Chris Blattman posted an interview with him on how social media is shaping academia.

The New Yorker had a good article on Eric Jarosinski, the Prof behind @NeinQuarterly and how he “developed a crisp, allusive, irreverent Twitter voice: “Signifying nothing is harder than it looks.””

Finally, John Cochrane, The Grumpy Economist, had an excellent blog on Mooconomics. He has some really good thoughts about massive open online learning. Read the whole thing.

aggregate demand, economist nerds, Nick Powdthavee, PhD defence, SA economy

A few thoughts on demand management and the SA economy

So many ideas so little time to write blogs. But I have been writing a few Afrikaans posts on the School’s blog. They are part of the resources we are trying to develop for high school Economics learners.

  • The first is on the demand side of the economy: C + I + G + X-Z and how monetary and fiscal policy can be used to manage aggregate demand.
  • The second links this to the SA economy and policymakers’ room to maneuver at the moment. The short answer is that is is little that the Reserve Bank and/or the Minister of Finance can do at the moment to boost aggregate demand and economic growth.
Waldo, Mr Uctu, Prof Jafta, Prof du Plessis and Dr Boshoff

In addition I made a quick visit to Stellenbosch for a PhD defence this week. It was a first for me, in South Africa and as part of the panel. The candidate, Mr Uctu worked on bio-technology firms that are spun off from universities and presented some interesting results.

Also, MSc classmate and friend from Warwick, Nick Powdthavee was in the international news with his research. In new work with Andrew Oswald he found that winning the lottery makes people more right-wing. They got mentions by:

along with many newspaper stories and some TV coverage. Congrats Nick.

Finally, a link to a cool post in the @Noahpinion archive: Economists, release your inner nerd! I particularly liked the bit: “But for Milton Friedman’s sake, don’t be a science nerd!”