From Blogging To (Economic) Conversations

That blogging has changed journalism seems to be accepted all over. Of of the principles of blogging became possible by the development of internet as a new communication technology.
Before the internet there was mainly a face2face communication, phone communication and the postal communication. E-mail came first and internet changed the last ten yours of our communications history.

Blogging lowered the communication barrier. Internet made that possible. This is called the democratization effect if the internet:

"Our results show a significant correlation between Internet penetration (measured as the estimated number of Internet users per 1,000 people) and a common indicator of a nation's level of democratization ... "

(http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2005/Internet_and_Democracy_Global_Catalyst_or_Democratic_Dud)

Writing a physical letter to the editor required quite some effort. Also if you have to include a copy your passport, etc. Writing an e-mail to the same newspaper online is a bit easier to do.

Blogging is about that: it is easy both for the blogger as for the responders.

As blogging becomes normal, conversation is a next topic of change. Now that we all communicate, the question is how does this affect other levels of society. For example in the field of teaching.

An interesting "evolution" or mix of blogging teaching is the following example:

"The Economic Conversation by Arjo Klamer, Deirdre McCloskey, and Stephen Ziliak is a groundbreaking approach to teaching economics that will be published as a principles textbook in 2008."

http://www.theeconomicconversation.com/

"So far we have talked about markets and governments intervening in markets as though all economic life takes place in markets. But it doesn't. Mom doesn't charge her kids for lunch, but that's "economic" by any definition---allocating scarce resources (bread, sliced ham, mayonnaise, Coke). You do not charge your friend for a ride to the airport. If you do, it kills the friendship instantly..."

In this way an economic conversation starts.

It continues... "In other words the market is not always the natural way to do things... "In a relationship among friends what matters are such feelings as love, status, duty, envy, and generosity. In such a relationship a market arrangement is often considered offensive, and even unethical. Prices should not rule friendships...The difference between what happens inside and outside the marketplace was well captured by the economist Albert Hirschman ... in a famous trio of ideas: "exit, voice, and loyalty." Suppose you quarrel about dividing the pizza. You can exit, which is to say, get up and leave. Markets operate in large part through exit. There's no point in quarreling with the local grocery store if you think his price of milk is too high. You don't have to put up with a dry cleaner who insults you. You exit, going to a different grocer or a different dry cleaner... Exit is the market response: you leave the shop or the job when you expect to find a better deal elsewhere... Voice is an alternative to the exit response; you exercise voice when you communicate your response, negotiating or arguing... Loyalty may be a matter of love and respect, but the news is not all good. It also can be enforced by intimidation and other psychological and physical tricks. Military dictators, for example, tend to secure loyalty from their subordinates through fear. Some radical economists argue that the relationship between workers and their bosses has similarities to the relationship between a people and its dictator....
According to the stereotypes, the merchant exercises exit, the politician voice, the soldier loyalty. Most institutions, though, run on all three, in varying amounts."

The someone comes with a response: "This section ignores the role power can play in relationships, particularly within families. You discussion does not address situations where a spouse or child is economically dependent or abused."

One must be very concentrated when studying like this. A normal textbook approach is in a fact easy, but the result is "easy" as a consequence: you often learn easy tricks. This way of conversation learns you to think while you are reading.

Arjo Klamer is a professor of the economics of culture and his background is visible in this approach. The idea of economic conversations came from observations that each professor "talks" in his own language. A monetarist in monetary terms, a macro-economic professor in macro-economic terms, while the client (student) is only to learn about economics.
In fact this economicconversations is a business innovation as many others where the client's focus is taken as a starting-point.
And... it couldn't have been "invented" without the internet and the rise of blogging. Perhaps one of the few examples where blogging really triggers new business initiatives.

http://www.theeconomicconversation.com

Hans Bool

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