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Thanks Frances - this is obviously a topic I've given a lot of thought to. I haven't come to any conclusions, but this helps frame the questions, at least.

There may also be some personal skills-building at work, as well. Writing "the Macroeconomics of Middle Earth" is a flight of fancy, but it's also a training ground, on how to cast scenarios people have deep opinions of into economic terms, while still addressing a general audience.

If you had not written of the macroeconomics of Middle Earth, would you have been as adept at writing about the calculation of HDI for a general audience?

Interesting post Frances. However, you might want to extend the question more broadly. As academics, is anyone ultimately really listening to what we write whether it is an op-ed, a blog, a refereed journal article or a policy report for a think tank or government agency? There has been such a proliferation of venues for articulating analysis, points of view, etc... that is is hard not wonder what the point of it all is. In the end I think you do what you are interested in doing and respond to whatever incentives drive you personally.

"In economics, policy wonk-ery is one of the most important things scholar-bloggers contribute to the media landscape. We bring in expertise that 99 percent of journalists lack."

I've no quarrel with this, but why stop there? There are plenty of policy questions where non-economists can make vital contributions. For example, the doctors over at sciencebasedmedicine.org are far more informative than any health journalist could hope to be on medical and pharmacological issues.

(BTW, Vox is currently running a piece "Study: half the studies you read in the news are wrong.)

For that matter, why stop at policy? I'd much rather read an explanation of, say, the latest search for dark matter from Sabine Hossenfelder (backreaction.blogspot.com) than from even the best of the science journalists. Hell, I just finished a really interesting post on special cases of Shannon entropy from Terry Tao of all people! (https://terrytao.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/special-cases-of-shannon-entropy/) When one of the world's best mathematicians is willing to share his mind with you, why would you say no?

How do you know now, in hindsight, who is the better ice dancer?
(Follow-up: in general, how would you know when you had goofed, or maybe there's another layer to the onion? If this question is unanswerable in the general, perhaps some personal experience on how to tell?)

Majromax: "There may also be some personal skills-building at work" For sure. WCI is a great forum for testing and refining ideas.

Livio: " As academics, is anyone ultimately really listening" Agreed. Though there is probably a correlation between being sceptical about the value of traditional academic publishing taking up blogging.

Phil: "When one of the world's best mathematicians is willing to share his mind with you, why would you say no?" At the session today one of the questions was along the lines of "is blogging part of the problem? Is blogging lowering the quality of public debate?" My answer was an emphatic "no." One of our tasks at the session was to do some crystal-ball gazing and predict what the media landscape would look like in 2042. I have no idea, but one possibility is that personal reputation will become much more important. So people will read particular pundits and micro-outlets, e.g. 538, rather than media bundles like WSJ.

I'm a strategic planner, based in Canada, for a large energy consumer. My #1 contribution to my entity's strategic vision and success is my deep understanding of the macroeconomic landscape. An understanding which I've sculpted through reading blogs such as this one.

I believe that the development and expansion of economic writing through blogs (and other 'alternative' sources) is critical in reducing deadweight loss in society.

Thanks to all the contributors and commentators on WCI. Your thoughts and analysis are a tremendous public good.

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