Americans who leave news comments, who read news comments, and who do neither are demographically distinct. News commenters are more male, have lower levels of education, and have lower incomes compared to those who read news comments.
That is from Dr. Natalie (Talia), Jomini Stroud, Cynthia Peacock, and Emily Van Duyn, via the excellent Laura Miller.
Comments are open on this one, people…
Here is a Luigi Zingales post, “Why this blog?”:
By gathering information on the nature and cost of this subversion of competition, by distributing this information among the public at large, and by making this information salient, media outlets can reduce the power of vested interests. By exposing the distortions created by special interests, they can create the political demand for a competitive capitalism.
This is the goal of our Pro-Market blog: to educate the public about the many ways competition can be subverted. In this exercise our only goal is to make the market system work better. In the finest University of Chicago tradition, we will do it with data. We will try to do it with the rigor of the best academic work, but without the pedantry that often accompanies it. This blog will collect opinions, summarize work, and report on relevant research by Chicago faculty and Stigler fellows. We will use every medium at our disposal, because the message is our medium.
The New Yorker has done a profile of Michael A. Orthofer, here is one excerpt:
I first contacted him in 2004, asking him if I could write for the the Complete Review; I was an undergraduate at Stanford at the time, and thought that the site was an institution, like The New York Review of Books. I was politely rebuffed. Years later, I e-mailed to ask if I could send him a galley of my first novel. He already had it, he replied—he had picked up an advance review copy for sale at the Strand, for $1.49. He went on to review the book, giving it a B, and later e-mailed to soften the blow. “Bs always have something going for them,” he explained, while a C grade indicates “steer-clear territory.” All books on the site get a rating from A+ to F, part of the site’s endearing, Robert-Christgau-like fustiness.
Michael runs Literary Saloon, one of the very best and most important blogs, focusing on foreign literature in translation.
Oddly, he spent the first six years of his life not reading, and thus he is somewhat behind. Yet he is working at it:
“I can’t imagine not doing it,” Orthofer told me. “A day in which I don’t read or write, I have trouble falling asleep.” His goal is to read a book a day, though he confesses that this is “unrealistic.” He works on weekends, too, and has written four novels that are in the drawer. His main interests, according to the site, are inline roller-skating in Central Park and building snow sculptures, some of which are big enough that he carves staircases inside them to get to the top. When he tires of working, he steps out to a library or bookstore, “to see, be around books.” Last year, and this year, he worked through Christmas.
I will continue to read him until I can no longer. The profile is interesting and humorous throughout, and it is so far my favorite magazine piece of the year.
For the pointer I thank Michael Rosenwald.
Paul Krugman is in fact tweeting there. His first “real tweet” is:
Prediction: By the fall, moderate Republican pundits will declare that given the Democrat’s flaws, Trump is the better choice.
We first look at the number of District taxpayers who have paid self-employment taxes. The data show that the total number of people who pay self-employment taxes has increased in the District from 35,000 in 2006 to nearly 49,000 in 2014. This is a very steep increase (36 percent overall and nearly 4.5 percent annualized) even when compared to the relatively rapid increase in the District’s population and tax filers (tax filers grew at about 2 percent per year during the same period). But data show that the rapid increase in the number of filers who paid self-employment taxes occurred before 2010. In fact, since 2010, the share of tax filers who pay self-employment taxes has been stable at about 14 percent.
Imagine if I wrote a post that just served up a list like this:
The people who deserve to be raised in status:
Norman Borlaug, Jon Huntsman, female Catholics from Croatia, Scottie Pippen, Yoko Ono, Gordon Tullock, Uber drivers, and Arnold Schoenberg,
The people who deserve to be lowered in status:
Donald Trump, Harper Lee, inhabitants of the province Presidente Hayes, in Paraguay, doctors, Jacques Derrida, Indira Gandhi, and Art Garfunkel
You might get a kick out of it the first time, but quickly you would grow tired of the lack of substance and indeed the sheer prejudice of the exercise.
Yet, ultimately, the topic so appeals to you all. So much of debate, including political and economic debate, is about which groups and individuals deserve higher or lower status. It’s pretty easy — too easy in fact — to dissect most Paul Krugman blog posts along these lines. It’s also why a lot of blog posts about foreign countries don’t generate visceral reactions, unless of course it is the Greeks and the Germans, or some other set of stand-ins for disputes closer to home (or maybe that is your home). Chinese goings on are especially tough to parse into comparable American disputes over the status of one group vs. another.
I hypothesize that an MR blog post attracts more comments when it a) has implications for who should be raised and lowered in status, and b) has some framework in place which allows you to make analytical points, but points which ultimately translate into a conclusion about a).
Posts about immigration, the minimum wage, Greece and Germany, the worthiness of entrepreneurs vs. workers, and the rankings of different schools of thought or economists all seem to fit this bill.
Sometimes I am tempted to simply serve up the list and skip the analytics.
Addendum: Arnold Kling comments.
It is called Bank Underground, a clever title. There is one interesting post on insurance for driverless cars, and another on deflation risk.
Can you imagine the Fed doing the same? The bloggy voice and the need for institutional conformity are not always in perfect synch. Still, perhaps central banks are learning that if they do not define their own image, others will do it for them.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed…
What would you like him to cover? Please don’t be rude, serious inquiries only. On Twitter Ben claims he will cover “economics, finances, and sometimes baseball.”
What is on your mind? I am happy to entertain requests for topics and questions for future blog posts…
I wrote a short piece on this for Vox, here is one excerpt:
Who is the most influential public intellectual of the last 20 years?
This designation should go to someone who actually has helped change the world, rather than just changing lots of minds. It also should go to someone who has embodied key trends of the time, noting that for both standards I am focusing on the United States.
Based on those standards, I am inclined to pick Andrew Sullivan, who is most recently in the news for his announcement that he is quitting after fifteen years of blogging.
Any discussion of Sullivan’s influence must begin with gay marriage. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia already have legalized gay marriage, representing a majority of the American population, with possibly Alabama and others to follow. A broader Supreme Court decision for nationwide legalization may be on the way. More generally, gay rights have taken a major leap forward.
…I thought long and hard before selecting Andrew for the designation of most influential public intellectual. Perhaps Paul Krugman has changed more minds, but his agenda hasn’t much changed the world; we haven’t, for instance, gone back to do a bigger fiscal stimulus. Peter Singer led large numbers of people into vegetarianism and veganism and gave those practices philosophic respectability; he is second on my list. A generation ago, I would have picked Milton Friedman, for intellectual leadership in the direction of capitalist and pro-market reforms. But that is now long ago, and the Right has produced no natural successor.
Self-recommending! And again, please note, you should not confuse the designation “most influential” with “the person who, I, the reader, would most like to see elevated in status.” That would be a fallacy of mood affiliation.
…blogging, for better or worse, is proving resistant to scale. And I think there are two reasons why.
The first is that, at this moment in the media, scale means social traffic. Links from other bloggers — the original currency of the blogosphere, and the one that drove its collaborative, conversational nature — just don’t deliver the numbers that Facebook does. But blogging is a conversation, and conversations don’t go viral. People share things their friends will understand, not things that you need to have read six other posts to understand.
Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own. Alyssa Rosenberg put it well at the Washington Post. “I no longer write with the expectation that you all are going to read every post and pick up on every twist and turn in my thinking. Instead, each piece feels like it has to stand alone, with a thesis, supporting paragraphs and a clear conclusion.”
The other reason is that the bigger the site gets, and the bigger the business gets, the harder it is to retain the original voice.
That is from Ezra Klein, there is more here. (I recall Arnold Kling making a related point not too long ago, does anyone have the link?)
If you haven’t already noticed, we have no plans to chase traffic from social media, at least not by changing our basic interests and formula.
Here is another thread I found online:
“The majority of time that people are spending online is on Facebook,” said Anthony De Rosa, editor in chief of Circa, a mobile news start-up. “You have to find a way to break through or tap into all that narcissism. We are way too into ourselves.”
There is more here, from David Carr, mostly about selfie sticks and Snapchat. The human desire to be social used to be a huge cross-subsidy for music, as young people used musical taste to discover and cement social alliances. Now we don’t need music so much to do that and indeed music plays a smaller role in the lives of many young people today. This has been bad for music, although arguably good for sociability and of course good for Mark Zuckerberg.
The “problem” is that the web gives people what they want. Those who survive as bloggers will be those who do not care too much about what other people want, and who are skilled at reaping cross-subsidies.
Addendum: Kevin Drum offers comment.