Competition, quality control and the econoblogosphere

18May08

As we try and get back to our regular blogging schedule we thought it was worth looking at a few posts around the blogosphere that remind us why we blog. This blog is a daily attempt to cull interesting and notable posts from around the investment and economic blogosphere. A great number of you have come to rely on us for this service for which we are grateful.

Why is something like Abnormal Returns necessary? The fact of the matter is that the blogosphere is a vast (virtual) place. Any one with a modicum of motivation can put a blog. Which is great. That is exactly what some in the mainstream media fear.

Do you remember the incident last month when a noted writer went off on the editor of one the most successful sports blogs? Adam Warner at the Daily Options Report has a nice post on the topic of how the blogosphere helps sort through competing claims. It is not always a pretty process. A site like ours helps play a small role in this by pointing out the current schools of thought. We like how Adam concludes:

To me, it’s ultimately a meritocracy, albeit an imperfect one. There are some great blogs that get lousy readership and some lousy ones that top the charts. But by and large, it sorts itself out…

It’s that sorting out process that the blogosphere has that the mainstream media does not. Especially television. Look at a recent appearance of Barry Ritholtz (of Big Picture fame) on CNBC. It really takes the blogosphere to put in any sort of context the comments of the other panelists. Television just really isn’t built for that sort of interactivity and fact checking.

That is exactly the point of a recent paper by long-time blogger and political scientist Daniel Drezner. Drezner looks at the case of bloggers as “public intellectuals.” But he also notes how “..bloggers serve an even greater good by engaging in quality control of other public intellectuals.” One of the ways that happens is through comments.

Howard Lindzon notes how some people are bypassing the step of building their own blog and simply commenting on other blogs. Howard notes how if one is persistent and clever a few choice comments on high profile blogs can help build a commenter’s personal brand. The more obvious way to get yourself heard is through your own blog.

Aaron Schiff at 26econ.com has a nice (quick) post up on “why everyone should write a blog.” Aaron takes the tack that to get to really understand a topic you should blog on it, especially if it is something you know little about. Each and every blog post requires you to “explain your ideas to others” and put your thoughts into words. This growing pool of bloggers helps generate what one can call “peer effects.”

Felix Salmon at Market Movers has noted in the past how he welcomes the many additions to the econoblogosphere for two reasons. First more bloggers means more meaningful conversations worth commenting upon. Second it forces existing bloggers to step up their game to rise to the competition. This competitive landscape will remain in place for some time to come.

The blogosphere, in general, and the econoblogosphere, in particular, remain a wild and woolly place open to all comers. The competition for eyeballs is acute and will only get more so. Thankfully we blog in a self-correcting environment where over time quality, consistency and accuracy all play a role in a blogger’s eventual success.

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