I’ll take Matthew’s bait
Matthew Yglesias is a bright young man, so I have to assume he doesn’t really mean what he’s saying in this post: One thing I thought was sort of unfortunate about Klam’s article — though I understand why he did it — is that it left out the most boring, but probably most valuable, sub-sector ...
Matthew Yglesias is a bright young man, so I have to assume he doesn't really mean what he's saying in this post:
Matthew Yglesias is a bright young man, so I have to assume he doesn’t really mean what he’s saying in this post:
One thing I thought was sort of unfortunate about Klam’s article — though I understand why he did it — is that it left out the most boring, but probably most valuable, sub-sector of blogging. Namely, the expert blogger. The folks who do this well are creating some extremely useful stuff, especially for those of us whose business it is to be semi-informed about a wide range of things. And, in my opinion, we don’t have nearly enough of them. Juan Cole is great, but why don’t we have two, three, four Juan Coles. Only in the field of law, or so it seems to me, are there a sufficient number of expert bloggers that one can count on a critical mass of posts emerging when something important (a big Supreme Court case, usually) comes up that let readers follow the back and forth of debate and really learn something. A related — and expanding — blogospheric niche is the DC wonk blog, as seen by the efforts of Rotherham, Kilgore, Clemons, and Schmitt (sporadically). This, I think, holds a great deal of promise. Academics have real jobs and will only perform the great public service of blogging about what they know if they happen to be egomaniacs. Think tankers and other such people one encounters here in DC, on the other hand, really are just being paid to disseminate ideas throughout the world. (emphasis added)
[BEGIN SARCASM] Reading this, I’ll resist the temptation to call for a coalition of the egomaniacs to smite the puny, insignificant Ph.D.-less Yglesias — and just assure him that I put my pants on one leg at a time just like the little people inside the Beltway [END SARCASM] However, it’s worth pointing out that those last two sentences are comparing apples and oranges. If Matt thinks the think tank world has fewer egomaniacs…. well, he’s been hanging out too much with the research assistants and not enough with those higher up the think tank food chain. For those with doctorates, one could argue that those who elect to go the think tank route are self-selecting into career tracks that reward egomania — in the form of greater public adulation, proximity to power, and more media whoring opportunities — to a far, far greater extent than academia. So, while it’s likely that both academic and think tank bloggers are egomaniacs, I would submit that the probability of egomania — while high in both categories due to self-selection effects — is greater for the think tank crowd. For one example of a modest academic blogger, consider the Invisible Adjunct — who had such an ego that she refused to reveal her identity despite the outpouring of adulation that came with her regretful departure from the blogosphere. UPDATE: Brad DeLong fesses up to Yglesias. My favorite line comes from one of his commenters: “I was just happy for someone to say in seriousness that ‘Academics have real jobs.'” ANOTHER UPDATE: Matt points out he was joking — and rereading his post, I think I might have taken it too seriously. And a final, obvious point — anyone who thinks that it’s a good idea to have an eponymous web site have a touch of that old egomania.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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