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Why I am not blogging anymore - Chris Blattman

Chris Blattman

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Why I am not blogging anymore


Some of you have asked. I haven’t been blogging for many months, and I don’t see myself starting again in the next 6-9 months. But I am fairly sure I will start again in 2018.

“There are not enough hours in the day” was always a problem, and so it can’t explain the change. “I’m taking a break” is part of the story. But there are better explanations.

I am writing a book. Dani Rodrik stopped blogging for the same reason. He said that his brain only can think and write about so much at one time. I am pausing for the same reason. I woke up one day in July and unexpectedly wrote a page, and I didn’t stop. I am 100 pages in now, which amazes even me. The best one-line description is the subtitle of the course I’ve taught for 10 years: Why are some places poor, violent, and oppressive, and what (if anything) can you do about it?

Supply problems. I used to get amazing things to blog about from Google Reader. When that shut down Twitter was an ok substitute. But since early 2016 it has become a cesspool of people retweeting and liking things that burnish their self image and signal who they want the rest of the world to think they are. Most of that is about US politics, and it bores me. The newspapers have gotten worse. The New York Times and Washington Post have become crap, and even hopeful sites like have begun to disappoint. They all respond to retweets and likes and not what is important or interesting in the world. I have yet to come up with a substitute way to consume the best new stories out there. ( I welcome suggestions.) I try unsuccessfully to filter out people who tweet US politics. Instead, I read books more, which is good. I recommend it. But those are cumbersome to blog, so it does not solve the blog problem.

Substitution. Ironically, I now tweet a fair amount. Tweeting is easier and often feels sufficient. Of course it is not, because tweets are fleeting and buried in an onslaught of Trump news, people favoriting the same old shit, and other silliness. I wish WordPress made it faster and easier to blog away from a computer.

Also, few people read blogs anymore. Including me. I no longer feel the pressure to write often, because the person who comes directly to the page daily or weekly in search of something new is a dwindling breed. Most people reach blogs by twitter and facebook. This has taken the pressure off of me and, what can I say, I respond to incentives.

If I should ever get the book done, I suspect the incentives to turn towards blogging again. In the meantime please keep enjoying Jeff Mosenkis’ amazing weekly links. Or wallow in the cesspool of crap with me on Twitter, @cblatts, more commonly known as “following”.

21 Responses

  1. The long time much loved city flavor columnist from San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen, was asked why he hadn’t written a book. He said, well, that’s like asking a man who shaves every day why he hasn’t grown a beard.

  2. +1 to the replacement RSS comments

    Another good one is – which comes with a “Digg Deeper” function that will extract the links trending on your Twitter account (useful to stop using Twitter while using it as a tool to get stuff from people who do).

  3. I try to filter the financial news, FWIW -> Combination of algorithm, human, crowdsourced curation (mostly algorithmic)

    The social media vibe has been disappointing, I ranted about it at one time . Maybe Gresham’s law, adverse selection taking hold, maybe the political situation, maybe just maturing and smart people realizing there are diminishing returns.

    look forward to the book!

  4. Well, I still come to your blog 1 or 2 times a week and I miss your work.

    Oth, I also think it’s a good idea to concentrate on your book. I’ll probably end up buying the thing when you get finished.

    And, yes, Twitter and Facebook are a waste of space.

  5. This is a very wise decision. You need to concentrate. The world will be better off with your book in it–and so will you.

  6. In addition to the comments made above about Feedly, I have been getting a lot out of Medium — curated content about my interests that includes who I choose to follow (certain authors or organizations) as well as suggested stories, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the chance to hear from ‘smaller’ voices that write on the content I enjoy. I’ve managed to *almost* successfully weed out all talk about US politics this way and get a lovely selection of both short and long-form pieces.

  7. I am a disappointed to see you write, “The New York Times and Washington Post have become crap” – as the role they are playing in our democracy right now is vital.
    Moreover, it surprises me that a political scientist with once broad and deep interests is so apparently disengaged from current US politics. I expected something different from you. Perhaps you could blog about that.

  8. I use inoreader not feedly – you might try that instead. I mourn the slow death of blogging and its near-replacement by twitter/FB even though I myself am part of the problem.

  9. I was one of the mourners when Reader shut down but have found Feedly to be a worthy substitute. You can curate what to read and it is less ‘frothy’ than Twitter. The interface helps you read longer pieces and works well on computers and phones.

    That said, I do feel that blogs, especially popular ones like yours, continue to be read despite the dwindling attention span. So once the book is done, would love to see more posts!

  10. Glad to see two people already said what I came here to say:

    In a moment of nostalgia for Reader last year, I spent the better part of an afternoon building a Feedly collection. We may not be in the blogging golden age, and I wonder whether RSS is as universal as it was, but nevertheless, I think you’ll recover much of the joy Reader gave you.

  11. I second Jacob on Feedly being a near-complete substitute for Google Reader. I think the overall blog ecosystem is just much weaker now: less content is produced, less is consumed, less is shared. The golden age of blogging may just be over?

  12. A tentagive suggestion for news-
    I get Reuters’ daily paper via Amazon. If you want a newspaper that doesn’t switch strait to the Op-eds, it’s a start.

    A book is well worth a few fewer blog posts.

  13. I’ve found that a subscription the print version of The Economist works best for me–read just once weekly on the weekends, is enough current events in the leads, and more of what’s important rather than “new” in the other sections. I’ve been sucked in by politics and am guilty of what you describe above–thanks for the kick in the pants to focus on what’s more important to my career (in behavioral science/poverty). I’ll be grateful to all the gold that’s in your static links on the right hand side, and some weekly links, and consider that all I should be consuming anyway (other than some blog posts explaining key points of the book you’re writing I hope!).