I started this enterprise back in April as an experiment. I work at various levels - academic papers, teaching, textbooks - and I learn something in each medium that I can use in the others. I saw other people writing blogs and thought: Why not? What do I have to lose? Some people I talk to worry that this will burn up a lot of time, but I find it doesn't. It's actually useful discipline for me, that forces me to pick up institutional details and facts about data that I otherwise would be too lazy to spend time on. If no one else is learning anything, at least I am. As Neil Young said once (or something like this - you can find this somewhere in your blu ray Neil Young Archives): "I do this for me. F*** the audience." Actually, that's not really true. I do care what you think.
Now, sometimes this is a tough business. I have opinions, or I wouldn't do this. I've aired plenty of those opinions in public outside of the blogosphere without much adverse reaction, but apparently there is a segment of the blogosphere where opinions like this are seen as the equivalent of attacking someone's religion. My friend Kartik Athreya certainly suffered for posting something on his personal web site suggesting that economic research published in traditional venues might be somehow superior to a typical blog entry. I would characterize most of the reaction as bullying. I can see why people who write blogs would be upset that someone would express disdain for what they do, and I understand that the freewheeling and democratic nature of the blogosphere is refreshing. However, most assistant professors in serious research universities who are worried about getting tenure are not going to learn their economics from blogs. I would not counsel my graduate students to devote any of their precious time to reading blogs. Kartik's opinions are not unique. I think they are widely held in academia, though of course I have not taken a poll.
Yesterday I was feeling a little down about this whole enterprise, but I think I feel better this morning. What makes me feel bad is perhaps surprising. While one might think that free entry into blogging would produce a plethora of opinions and freewheeling exchange of ideas, the outcome is actually rather monolithic and intolerant, at least in terms of what I see in the macroeconomics blogosphere. The blog readers I find to be fair, for the most part (though people drop occasional turds in my comment box), but the blog writers (at least the guys with the big audiences) are prone to exaggeration, ideological rigidity, and misrepresentation of positions they oppose. I feel that it's not fair to pick on people who aren't endowed with some power. For me, Woodford (I know him well and he is a nice guy and has a sense of humor), Kocherlakota (a good friend - he's not going to take my criticism personally), and certainly Krugman (never met the guy, and I'm sure he doesn't give a hoot what I say about him) are fair game. Picking on some poor guy working at the Richmond Fed who is relatively unknown outside of the macro conference circuit and the group of scholars working on bankruptcy is not really fair.
Anyway, to get to the point, here's my game plan from now on. What I'm shooting for here is more Neil Young (old, irreverent, maybe a little sloppy, but aiming for integrity, with a Canadian lack of pedigree) than Lady Gaga. I don't want a large audience, as that would mean going for the Macro 101 Keynesian-Cross approach of most of the macro blogosphere. Trying to keep Krugman honest is obviously a waste of time. Krugman's blog writing and his recent NYT columns are like Fox News or organized religion. It's either obvious to you what its faults are, or you are committed to it, and I'm not going to change your mind.
One last point. Where are the women in the macro blogosphere? All the bloggers are men, and any non-anonymous commenters I get are also male. Look at the pictures of my followers - a bunch of men except for the Canada Goose. There has to be something wrong if we're scaring the women off. Obviously too much aggression is floating around.