Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Value of Blogs

Nick Rowe reflects extensively on his investment of resources into blogging at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.
I know ONE thing. My life is richer because Nick is blogging.
Read his whole post but some good key points are in this selection:

OK, I know, I've been ducking the main question: "but how does it compare to published research?".

Damned if I know. And of course, whatever I say will (understandably) be seen as self-serving.

Blog posts are published, just in a different medium. Blogs (like books, journals and working papers) are a form of conversation, but they are recorded conversation, and public conversation. Anyone can see what you said. (In fact, blogs are a lot more publicly available than expensive inaccessible books and journal articles).

Blog posts can also be cited, by other blog posts, just as journal articles are cited by other journal articles. Some citations are favourable; others are unfavourable. Just like journal articles.

Blog posts are even refereed, by the commentors especially. Sure, most of the comments are anonymous, but then so are referees for journal articles. And anyone can referee a blog post; you don't get the risk of a little clique of like-minded people all refereeing each others' work, and approving it because it confirms their views and cites their own work favourably.

But the big difference, of course, is that journal articles get refereed before publication, while blog posts get refereed after publication. Even a departmental working paper will normally be reviewed, at least briefly, by one or more of one's colleagues, before publication. Anyone can post anything on a blog.

I believe that some blog posts are as good in content as anything that gets published in a refereed journal. They may lack all the scholastic trimmings, but that's not obviously a disadvantage. But most aren't (they don't try to be). And some are really bad.


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