In Defense of #Econtwitter

Or, every man a meme

Tyler Cowen has a new post comparing economics blogs and Twitter (with a critical eye cast at the latter). As someone who was born and bred by econtwitter, I’d like to advance a small defense of my peers.

  1. Economics Twitter involves more steelmanning of arguments than twitter. Because twitter accounts feel more “personal” than blogs, people have a proclivity to try and agree, attempt less direct confrontation than on blogs, and generally adopt a lighter tone. Compare that to blogs which involve “invasions” of diametrically opposed intellectual enemies who want nothing more than to land vicious dunks on your home turf, and inter-blog conflict which due to the indirect nature of interactions end up being very hostile indeed.

  2. Economics Twitter does far more to communicate the ideas of the field due it not being “hidden”. Because Twitter isn’t just for one subject, your economics tweets will be seen by far more and introduce more people to the subject than if they were on a blog. This allows shy people who don’t normally want to speak up to ask questions and get involved in the important economic problems of our times.

  3. Economics Twitter is arguably more plugged in to actually academic discourse than blogs are. A new paper published in a top 5 is more likely to be discussed on Twitter than on a blog. This is because inter-blog debates typically involve so much heterodox economics, and because so many bloggers write using arguably “simple” economics. The very most accomplished economists of our age, however, usually don’t have blogs, but do have Twitter accounts. There are, of course, exceptions to this.

  4. Economics Twitter is more fun and friendly. This is quite subjective, of course, but in my experience economics Twitter is more friendly (see #1), and often more fun. Mostly because of memes, of course.