How Did I Get Started Weblogging?: DeLong FAQ

by Brad DeLong

Published

How did I get started weblogging?

In my memory, I got started weblogging because one afternoon sometime in the 1990s that convinced me that weblogging was likely to become a key part of the forthcoming ecology of intellectual influence.

I was sitting in my Berkeley office, looking out over the Golden Gate, reading the May/June 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs. I noted a very positive citation to something I had written by Paul Krugman. Shortly thereafter I noted a second--very negative--citation by Jagdish Bhagwati. I really didn't care that Bhagwati was quoting-me-to-criticize. I cared that that was two Nobel Prize-caliber economists noticing my existence. That did not happen every day: in fact, that had never happened before.

I looked more closely at the quotes they had taken. Neither was reading published dead-tree paper versions. Both were quoting from online versions. The next image that flashed through my brain was of Krugman and Bhagwati, both under deadline pressure as they wrote for Foreign Affairs, both working in their offices late at night, both searching this new-fangled internet thing for another quote and reference to buttress their arguments.

And I thought: This pattern is only going to grow in the future. Making the internet my first and primary channel of distribution might in the future be a better way of getting the attention of the people I want to reach with my thoughts--people like Krugman and Bhagwati--than does writing journal articles. I should devote a year to seeing whether this is so. It was. And so I was off and running. And I am running still...