Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category
Have you ever asked: What would Omar do? Answer: Get married to Jessica Collett!
Bruce Kogut has a post at Socializing Finance that might interest many readers.
The Organization and Management Theory (or OMT) division of the Academy of Management has a blog. And orgtheory’s very own Brayden is the editor (chair/or something equivalent). The latest post is an interview with Jane Dutton, University of Michigan.
It’s great to see the OMT division blogging. I know there are active discussion boards and email listservs within the Academy of Management, though I believe this is the first AOM division with an official blog (though I haven’t checked, probably some dormant ones out there). I’ll definitely be linking to any interesting content.
So, for what it’s worth, I think there are two keys to blogging nirvana — these points came up in my comments during the AOM blogging session that Chris Marquis and Andy Hoffman organized in Montreal a few weeks ago: 1) lots of semi-interesting content (with an emphasis on lots), and 2) “voice” and having an angle.
I don’t think “institutional” blogs/bloggers are in any way hampered in terms of ensuring lots of content, but I do think that institutional blogs definitely are a different type of animal altogether when it comes to voice. Institutional bloggers are obviously acting in a role, and this role tends to set boundaries for the types of things these bloggers can and do post about (for example, probably no ferret posts — hmm, that’s a good thing, perhaps orgtheory needs an institutional affiliation), there are expectations in terms of professionalism, tone and voice, understandable problems with any type of evaluative content or strong opinion, etc.
For the above reasons many institutional blogs often turn into message boards (listings of conferences, special issues, links to papers, advertising etc), which obviously serves an important purpose (and as readers know, we also do our fair share of this type of posting). But I think it is also important to, somehow, build in some mechanisms (or whatever) that allow for voice and perspective, some kind of unique angle. (Undoubtedly the new OMT blog will find novel ways to do this.) So, what are good examples of successful institutional blogs (perhaps ASA’s Contexts)? Which institutional blogs do you follow regularly and what specifically makes them successful?
First, I’d like to thank Nick Rowland for a stimulating series of posts on the sociology of technology. Great job. Second, I’m going on blogcation until July 1. I’m prepping for the move back to Bloomington, I have a round of field work, and a high school reunion. That won’t leave time for much blogging over the next few weeks. Third, if you want to chat or meet, email me. I’ll be in Ann Arbor for the rest of June and sporadically in July. Then, I’ll be at GenCon, the Association of Black Sociologists, and the ASA meetings (see the sessions on collective action and mathematical sociology) in August. If you are at any of these events, I’d love to meet you.
Claude Fischer has a blog! The blog is named after his new book, Made in America, which comes out this week. Both the book and blog look like fascinating reads. This post questions the myth of American individualism (it turns out that on a number of indicators Americans value personal liberty less than their Western peers). Here he talks about how America has become more religious over time. And, my personal favorite, he wrote a post on three lessons from baseball. As you’d expect from Fischer, his commentary is empirically-driven and always enlightening.
The mechanics, dynamics, and vicissitudes of peer review have always been a hot topic around these parts (e.g. here and here). In fact, one of our most famous posts consists of an indecent proposal to reform the peer review system. Usually clarion calls for radical revolution in the peer review process come from a shared intuition that really good, really innovative papers, can get squashed by the forces of homosocial reproduction, cognitive blinders and plain old inefficiency that are inevitably bred by a system in which producers are their own critics.
I have always been skeptical of the “radical inefficiency” viewpoint, challenging people to show me that brilliant, path-breaking paper that was never published in a top journal due to the recalcitrance of short-sighted reviewers (with the lone Akerloff example predictably thrown in my face). But I do recognize the validity of the question behind these complaints.
It turns out that PNAS which has three separate submissions tracks (one traditional, one “self-promoting” and the other “friend-promoting”), provides a window with which to answer the following question: would it make sense to lower the average quality of publications if that meant that a few more highly innovative papers–papers that would not have made through the standard peer review channels–would find a home in a high impact journal? The results of a recent analysis suggests that the answer may be yes (I think registration is required to take a look at the story).
The study finds that the top 10% (in terms of citations) of papers that are published as either “contributed” (where the NAS member gets her own reviews–from presumably friendly peers–and submits those along with the papers) or “communicated” (where an NAS member does the favor for a non-NAS colleague) tend to have more impact than the top 10% of “regularly submitted” (blind peer review, editors in charge of getting reviewers, etc.). This is in spite of the fact that regular papers tend to have a greater overall impact (when considered as a whole). The authors of the study interpret this is a tradeoff of overall quality for the chance to sneak in a truly revolutionary “hit.” So there might be something to those complaints after all…but of course, there are always those pesky butterflies.
Permutations is the official blog of the ASA’s Mathematical Sociology Section, and it while it has been in its quiet pre-launch phase for a little while, it now seems to be officially open for business. The lineup looks good and should be somewhat familiar to OrgTheory readers (jimi adams, Michael Bishop, Matt Brashears, Bob Hanneman). As someone who has complained in the past about the general cluelessness of ASA sections when it comes to having a useful and engaging presence online, the MathSoc people seem to be doing it exactly right so far, and I look forward to reading their stuff.
I suck at math, but I’m nevertheless a member of the MathSoc section, mostly in the hope of learning something out of sheer osmosis. So far I have learned a joke about the difference between a combination and a permuation, but there’s hope yet.
From the Selvedge Yard blog: Miles Davis and John Coltrane performing at Jazz club Cafe Bohemia in New York City, ca. 1956.
1. Awesome Tapes from Africa - A blog with mp3′s of very cool, but extremely rare, cassette tapes of pop, rap, and traditional music from Africa. “Some of my favorite Mandingo griot music from Mali. The electric kora rises to particularly gratifying heights throughout (don’t you dare hate on electric kora, my dudes).” ’nuff said.
I’d like to introduce our new guest blogger: Katherine Chen! She’s currently an assistant professor of sociology at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center at CUNY. She’s the author of Enabling Creative Chaos, a super cool new book on the Burning Man Organization, published by the University of Chicago Press. Katherine also maintains a blog on organization studies. Welcome!
Here’s a video about a recent economics blogging get-together — well, the video is also a plug for the sponsoring institution, the Kauffman Foundation (for those who are not familiar: the foundation sponsors a vast amount of entrepreneurship research in the US).
In the video various bloggers (including the dynamist, marginalrevolution, etc) reflect on the role of blogs in public discourse, the role of bloggers in prediction, bloggers and capitalism/the crisis, entrepreneurship in society, and various other topics. Here are a few, bold predictions from the end of the clip: “Blogs will last forever, I don’t think it’s a phase” (that’s from Tyler Cowen), and “blogging is the new establishment, and it will start to act like an establishment really soon” (Amity Shlaes).
Megan McArdle has an interesting post detailing her reasons to oppose the Obama Administration’s plans to reform the health care system. She makes the reasonable point that the rest of the world free-rides on the US health care system, in the sense that it is the rents earned by pharmaceutical firms/device makers/medical professionals in America that provide incentives for R&D investment. Because I think there is more than a grain of truth to the general thrust of our argument, I’d like to make three counterpoints.
First, there is a particular direction to the technological change that is induced by the waste in our health care system; for example, there is just not a lot of incentive to develop cost-reducing technologies. This point was made a long time ago by Burton Weisbrod, but it bears repeating.
Second, Megan seems to assume that expected profit opportunities are solely determined by future prices. In fact, expected health care expenditures is what should enter the entrepreneurial calculus. Any reform that significantly broadens access to health care could have a positive impact on pharmaceutical profits, even if pressures are brought to bear on the level of pharmaceutical prices. Two papers in the literature suggest that “quantity shocks” can spur pharmaceutical innovation: Amy Finkelstein studies the impact of reimbursement mandates for certain types of vaccines; Acemoglu and Lin look at the impact of population aging on the type of pharmaceutical products being developed.
Finally, while I have no doubt that price controls, holding expenditures constant, would have a negative effect on innovation incentives, we should wrangle with the magnitude. In Megan’s welfare calculus, only the suffering of tomorrow’s patients appear to receive a positive weight. Whether that’s correct depends on the discount rate (one could argue it should be zero), as well as on the elasticity of R&D investment to expected prices. Nailing down that parameter would seem to be rather important before making grand claims regarding the optimality of reform.
While we’re at ASA/AOM… Life hack guru Time Ferris has an hour long discussion on building your blog.
Thanks goes out to Evan Carmichael who included us in his list of top #50 human resource/organization blogs. Our good friend CV Harquail also made the list. Good job! This is a vast improvement over our previous ranks of #2072 and #40,000. Technorati moved us from 40k to 28k.* “Sean” is the secret ingredient.
Jumping in front of Dan Perjovschi’s “The Arizona Drawing,” 2009 at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
3. Check out the blog of career counselor Penelope Trunk. A mix of career advice, personal memoir and family life. No holds barred, such as her account of being a 9/11 survivor. Also recommended are posts summarizing happiness research.
1. My collaborator Michael Heaney has set up a blog that comments on network analysis and political science. Here is the network diagram of Republican interest groups, circa 2008, as measured by convention delegate co-memberships.
3. The Racism Review continues to be the go to place for sociology and critical race studies. Interesting and frequently updated: Joe Faegin on race and internet & the Sotomayor nomination. Jessie Daniels on the Philadelphia pool dispute & recent hate crimes.
I’ve been asked a few times about blog writing. How do you blog? What goes into a successful blog?
- Blogging is free: WordPress and blogspot are both free. For additional customer support, you can pay at Type Pad or Powerblogs.
- Decide whether you want a single person or group blog. I do a group blog because I don’t have to generate all the content myself. I also enjoy interacting with the rest of the crew.
- Have a “beat.” Most good blogs are like magazines. They have an audience and specific set of topics. At orgtheory, we do management, sociology, and related social science topics. We also toss in the occasional fun post. If you write consistently on topics you love, it’ll work.
- Have a point of view. Each one of us has a specific take on things and we let it come out.
- Update. This is the most important issue. A blog that isn’t updated at least once a week or so will wither. That’s why I like the group blog. With six bloggers, you can depend on fresh writing.
- Professional tone. People worry how blogging might affect how people see them. Fair point. I’ve found that common sense goes a long way. Be measured and calm in your writing. Be fun. But don’t be mean. And don’t write about confidential conversations (i.e., what happens in the dept stays in the dept). My experience is that a professional & fun blog isn’t a problem.
- Time management. Here’s what I do. When I have a fun idea, such as when I read an academic journal or book, I make a note, or write it down. About once a week, a few of these ideas will turn into blog posts. It takes about as much time as watching 1 episode of a TV show. I really don’t have time for more than that.
There you go. Here is an older post on blog benefits. If you have other questions, or “how to” ideas, drop them in the comments.
Update: Kandarp asked about how we bring traffic to the blog. I think it’s just through word of mouth and links from other blogs. I also think people find us through google searches. For example, “stakeholder theory” brings you to Brayden’s and Teppo’s posts. I don’t think we do any advertising aside from just putting links on the web page. We also get the occasional “big hit.” Both Brayden and Sean were picked up by super blogger Andrew Sullivan. How he heard about them, I don’t know.
I also recommend Joseph Logan’s comment. Definitely worth reading.
Crooked Timber has a guest blogger – Michele Lamont! Very cool. Read her first post, which is about whether philosophers do things that preclude them from engaging with other disciplines. Here’s my take on the topic (e.g., yes, philosophers like formality, and other humanities types don’t), which was written in response to Kieran’s Michigan talk on status within the philosophy profession (scroll down here to get the recording of the lecture). At orgtheory, we’ve discussed Lamont’s recent work on evaluation and her super cool deconstruction article. Also read this new Crooked Timber post on Lamont’s view of the philosophy profession.
I agree that it is impossible to think intelligently about policy without some minimum of economic literacy. But the economist has no competence whatsoever to tell us, say, the appropriate discount rate to apply to future costs and benefits, to take one important example. I’ve heard philosophical arguments to the effect that the discount rate for future welfare should be zero and that the discount rate should approach infinity as we consider the welfare of furture beings with whom there is no possibility of reciprocity. The funny thing is that I think people get the implications of discount rates wrong, and that both zero and infinity point to more or less maximizing growth. A zero discount rate plus a basic grasp of the relationship between technology and growth plus a reasonable projection of the current trend of technological progress implies an obligation to maximize economic growth rates with no concern whatsoever to avoid the incidence of future externalities of current activity. This is an economic argument, but it is also something rather more. Likewise, an infinite discount rate implies that we should do the best we can for our children and grandchildren, and leave it to our grandchildren to worry about their grandchildren. If we’re doing something now that might hurt people none of us will coexist with 100 years, then so what?
I think the comments are correct. Economics (as currently practiced) has enormously useful tools for counting things – who benefits, who pays, aggregate benefits, how choices follow incentives, etc. This is essential for any rational policy analysis. But it’s silent on how things should be valued, especially when people just disagree on what’s valuable. Wilkinson expands in a later post:
I am thinking that the meanings of “cost” and “benefit” are either contested, due to diversity in reasonable evaluative standards, or their meanings are stipulated for technical purposes.
If the meaning is plural and contested, economists have no special comptence to decide between the different evaluative standards underlying different meanings of “cost” and “benefit”. Economists are people, and people can make arguments and exchange reasons for an against various evaluative standards, but economists do this as people with a conception of value, not as economists.
2. Lawrence Mead at the Claremont Institute magazine reviews Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge. He definitely does not like economists. A choice clip:
What economists mainly study in graduate school is not the economy but the mathematical methods required to frame and confirm rational choice hypotheses. They then apply this “tool kit” promiscuously to all manner of questions. Pride in their quantitative skills makes leading economists among the most cocksure figures in academia. In Freakonomics (2005), for instance, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner showed how economic methods can explain numerous puzzles in social behavior. The results are intriquing but also superficial.
For example, Levitt and Dubner show why teachers in public schools have incentives to help their students cheat on achievement tests—to make themselves look better. But they cannot explain why the teachers would violate their professional ethics to do this. Similarly, they show why low-level drug dealers have an incentive to work for low wages—to become drug bosses and make much more. But they cannot explain the climate of failure that causes poor youth to go into the drug trade in the first place. To explain behavior more fully would require the authors to undertake a deeper, more humble inquiry, involving more information sources and more hands-on contact with the phenomena under study. That sort of labor generates few academic plaudits today, and most economists avoid it.
3. Matt Yglesias likes economists, but he’s got his finger on a real problem in macro-economics – the misguided need to base macro theories on micro foundations:
But as a methodological matter, it seems deeply unsound. As a general principle for investigating the world, we normally deem it desirable, but not at all necessary, that researchers exploring a particular field of inquiry find ways to “reduce” what they’re doing to a lower level. To make that concrete, in the modern day we have achieved a decent understanding of how principles of chemistry are grounded in physics’ understanding of the behavior of atoms. But it’s just not the case that advances in chemistry were made by demanding that chemists ground all their models in subatomic physics. On the contrary, chemistry moved forward in the first instance by having chemists investigate issues in chemistry and see which models and theories held up. Similarly, though psychology is intertwined with the detailed study of the biology of the brain, it’s not deemed illegitimate to research psychological issues in the absence of a specific neurological theory. Nor, for that matter, do microeconomists generally deem it necessary to explore in detail the psychological foundations of their models. The models are, rather, judged by whether or not they produce fruitful insights about economics. Trying to enhance models with better information about psychology isn’t against the rules, but it’s not required either. What’s required is that the models do useful work.
Yglesias has it right on. A more subtle formulation: correct theories should be consistent with each other, but valuable theories can be logically independent of each other. Or: if X and Y describe the same world (e.g., micro behavior and macro phenomena) then X and Y should not contradict each other, but X and Y can be derived in different ways. As Yglesias notes, that’s how lots of science works, but it’s a lesson that people conveniently ignore, especially in modern economics. At Econlog, Kling adds some historical context, as does David Henderson.
If you are on facebook, I’ve written an orgtheory blog quiz. Have at it.
Update: Out of a dozen quizes, seems like Brayden is the most popular among us. Congratulations!!!
Update 2: The late returns are coming in from Gary, Indiana and Omar Lizardo is now making a serious break for the #2 position.
Final Update: Brayden and Omar are tied for the lead.
1. Econ Journal Watch is out – and here’s “Intellectual Hazards,” a list of interesting quotes comparing old and new ideas in economics.
2. Back at Gabe’s house, Code and Culture, Pierre is a new blogger and has two posts on R vs. Stata and how to make R behave. Meanwhile, the Rossman does a hazard analysis of how people unsubrsribe to email lists. As usual, Code and Culture is the place to beat if you like your cultural sociology mixed in with detailed discussions of stata output.
3. A colleague drew my attention to “Letters to Our Daughters Project,” where women academics explore their careers and lives. Valuable reading for anyone interested in gender and the academy.
Yes, we’ve finally caught up with the Facebook generation. After months of waffling, we’ve created a Facebook page for orgtheory.net. If you’re a regular, occasional, or first-time reader, sign up and see orgtheory behind the scenes. You’ll get the inside scoop on our latest posts, learn about the “other” Teppo, help make Kieran’s social network more performative, protest 24/7 with Fabio, and see where Omar hangs out when he’s not blogging. It’s very exciting and so we encourage any and all to join the group.
Via MR, a blog ranker. The MR is currently #36 out of all blogs in the data base. Orgtheory is 2072, which isn’t half bad for a blog where people make obscure arguments about performativity theory.
Gabriel Rossman returns to blogging with one of the most awesome blog descriptions ever – Stata, Sociology, and Diffusion Models (HT to Jenn). Gabriel writes about methodological and theoretical problems and then writes down related Stata script. For example, check out this post discussing the publication bias favoring statistically significant findings. The end of the post contains a Stata simulation producing two literatures, one based on a spurious effect and the other on a true effect. This really is one of the most brilliant blogging ideas ever! We need more of this kind of blogging.
While in the 1990s the banking sector predicted the “death of the branch” as the physical gives way to the virtual—the new millennium saw branches springing up left and right in both the most “developed” countries such as the U.S. and in countries with a shorter history of competitive banking such as Hungary. Last year the Fed reported that the total branch network of retail banks in the U.S. grew by 27% between 1994 and 2006 and found it significant given the opposite trend towards alternative sales channels…This turnaround was the most discussed buzz in retail banking and it puzzled regulators precisely because banks’ return to the branch was not a necessary move—they could have given them up.
Daniel replies in comments with a link to pictures he’s been taking of old banks and of the various uses the buildings have been given since they shut down. Danielcould give Teppo a run for his money as resident blogger-photographer.
Blackprof.com has been a favorite of mine since it started. I always thought a black perspective on law and academia might be a nice counterpoint to Volokh. However, it’s now firmly entrenched in left2right territory, even though it had periods of high activity. Hasn’t been updated since Dec 8 and too much focus on celebrity issues like OJ Simpson. It also had some well known guests and it raised some good issues. Too bad. Now that we have a black POTUS and a black AG, you’d think there’d be high demand for the blog. RIP, blackprof. Previous posts on blackprof.com.
Honestly, we’re not sore losers here at the OT, but we’ll admit to being a little agitated at being the runner-up in the TSS Best of 2008 award to that irreverent Drek! We’d rather lose to the gracious Jenn anyday. We’re doing our best to maintain our composure and taking comfort in the knowledge that the undisputed K.O.A.S.B. is back where he belongs.
Ana from Detroit asked me today about good academic/policy blogs on immigration and US latinos? Doesn’t have to be in English, just good. Any suggestions?
Q: Can you explain to a nonacademic why political science and economics are considered different areas of study?
A: There are many points of convergence between economics and politics, primarily since the discipline of political science has really embraced economic analytic techniques. There are top political scientists who have their doctorates in economics. A look at the American Political Science Review shows this convergence.
At the same time, there are many political scientists who use economic techniques as part of a broader mix of methodological tools. Many in the field remain more concerned with the power of institutions and policies to shape individual choice, the importance of political culture in defining how voters and politicians understand what is and is not rational, and a greater appreciation for how historical forces limit the possibilities for action in any given moment. Moreover, political scientists ultimately want to use economics to understand questions about political power, whereas economists who deal with politics primarily use the subject to test and strengthen their methodological techniques. For something really different, check out the great work of political historians.
Nice answer, and captures the position of poli sci as the field most impacted by rational choice theory. The only thing I’d add or modify is the last part about technique. It’s not quite right. Economists aren’t interested in political phenomena because it’s a nice test of technique. They’re interested in politics because it is an example of rational action, and thus a subset or application of economics. In the minds of some folks, there is only one social science – development and tests of rational actor theory and its variants.
1. Brian Hollar liked my MBA post and wrote a sequel on his own blog, Thinking on the Margin.
2. Chris Zimmerman maintains an econo-blog aggregator: Econoacademics. Orgtheory is on it, but in the “quite did not make it” section.
Terence Tao, professor at UCLA, is a leading mathematician, and a prodigy as well. He has a wonderful blog about math and science simply called “What’s new?” Much of it is research level math (e.g., “The Kakeya Conjecture and the Ham Sandwich Theorem“), but I think any practicing academic might enjoy his career advice. Skip over parts that are too math specific for your taste, and you get a lot of sound advice and links to other good discussion. A few highlights from his career page:
- Don’t be afraid to learn things outside your field.
- Time management.
- Do you need to be a genius to be great at math? NO!!
- Don’t obsess over the big problem.
- Always aim just beyond your range.
He also turned his blog into a book, which is neat. Highly recommended.