Should junior faculty blog?

The AEA meetings this year featured an econ bloggers lunch, and Tim Kane posted a summary of the big messages to his Growthology blog. (via Alex at MR)

To my chagrin, conclusion 6 of 7 was the following:

it’s still probably not advisable for graduate students or junior faculty to blog instead of focus on tenurable research … for now

Keeping in mind that not much new can be said on the subject, indulge me as I add three personal observations I haven’t heard elsewhere:

  1. I average under 30 minutes a day blogging–less than most people would take to commute (I don’t), practice an instrument (nope), or watch a TV show (don’t even own one). Has anyone ever reflected, “A pity Bob didn’t get tenure. It’s a he shame lives in the suburbs and plays the piano. But it’s that fourth season of Lost that really screwed him.”?

  2. I didn’t become a professional builder of knowledge in order to influence what just 62 people think about subjects I care deeply about–and neither did any of my colleagues (at least at first). Research without communication equals dustbin. Of history.

  3. Finally, on a rational self-interest note (I am an economist after all), four times last year I walked into a meeting with executives of donor foundations and development institutions and heard (to my surprise): “I enjoy your blog”. I can’t say what unexpected rewards would await a theoretical economist, but for a field researcher, where every paper costs a quarter million in survey and travel expenses, that is the sound of a tenure packet getting just a little thicker.

Let’s relax. It’s a harmless hobby that has mostly upside potential. Plus it’s fun. My advice to junior faculty bloggers: keep the time investment low, keep it professional, and enjoy yourself.