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Friday, May 16, 2003

Blog Scholarship?-I did my self-evaluation this morning and had a head-scratching question-"Describe your professional growth/development/scholarship activities during 2002-03." I wound up citing my blogging as one of my scholarly activities
...My weblog (www.markbyron.blogspot.com) has been an outlet for intellectual thought in economics and finance, as well as theology, political science and other topics of general interest. By writing things down and exposing them to a general audience, I’ve been able to distill some thoughts that can then be used in a classroom setting. Also, my interaction with other bloggers has been helpful in getting a better handle on newer areas of economics; Megan McArdle (www.janegalt.com) has increased my understanding of Nash’s Equilibrium and James Haney (home.earthlink.net/~jhaney94) was critical in exposing me to Coase’s Theorem in advance of teaching it in Microeconomics; neither were discussed in my college coursework.
The pertinent definition of scholarship is "serious, detailed study" or from my desk dictionary " the systematized knowledge of a learned person, exhibiting accuracy, critical ability, and thoroughness; erudition." Can a blog do that? Are we accurate? Pretty much. If not, we get our keister's fact-checked. Blogs are surely peer-reviewed; the good bloggers will correct mistakes promptly. Do we have critical ability? In spades. If blogs are anything, they're critical; sometimes too critical. Are we thorough? We can be when we want to be. Blogs stereotypically come in two flavors, the linkers and the thinkers, although a lot of people can both metablog and come up with a thoughtful post. The best thinkers are scholars of the first order. They might not write in a dry, professional-journal tone, but they will often have the rigor to match an academic journal article. Often, what we see isn't the finished product, but rough drafts posted for their peers to pick over. In a way, blogs may be more scholarly than journal articles, for people will posit ideas and bat them back and forth amongst our peers. If you have thick enough skin to take some critics, you can improve your academic game by interacting with smart people from around the globe. Are we erudite? Good bloggers are erudite-"having or showing a wide knowledge gained by reading." Writing for an intellectual but popular audience, our prose will have a more down-to-earth feel to it that what would show up in a academic journal, thus John Adams paid me a great complement when he called be "both erudite and earthy". You don't have to be stuffy when expressing what you know. Thus, good blogging does fit the definition of scholarship when we are having serious discussions. Not everything here is scholarship; we have fun talking about redneck Jedis or college football, but we do have some serious scholarly game.

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