accountabilitybloke (old blog)

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The intellectual stimulus of crises….

Some thoughts while engaging in my now standard routine of checking the morning offerings online….

There is something to be said for a crisis like the one we are in the midst of — it certainly gets the intellectual juices flowing both individually and collectively. Difference today, however, is that we can do more than scream in the dark or kick dogs as a means for expressing ourselves. Thank goodness for blogs and tweets and Facebook postings….

For those of us in academe who have long had the opportunity of spewing forth before a captive (if not always attentive) audience (that is assuming we could remain minimally “on topic” for the day — easier for us poli sci folks than for chemists, I suppose), the new venting technology is just what the proverbial doctor ordered….

Point is, crises have a way of stimulating interest in questions and puzzles that we otherwise never contend with or think about, and rarely (if ever) discuss with friends and colleagues. Today anyone with some savvy and interest in a topic has several venues for expression and (even better) exchanges of ideas. And given the quality of some of the bloggers, tweeters, streamers and posters (sic) out there, one can argue that this crisis has generated one hell of a public seminar for those who bother to put together the curriculum.

Yes, there are the “know nothing” bloggers and the frenzy feeding news outlets to deal with; but in relatively short order one is able to put together a first rate, customized virtual seminar space that engages some truly thoughtful folks. And putting that seminar together is not too difficult thanks to links and feeds. Start with the brilliant work of NPR’s Planet Money and you soon find yourself hooked into (and on) Baseline Scenario which gets you to Economist’s View which leads to getting hooked on Krugman and Samuelson which has you getting tweets from those who lead you to still other posts and comments which leads on and on and on…..

All this becomes obsessive, of course — and before long you find yourself responding: initially by screaming in the dark or kicking the nearest dog. But eventually you have to use one of the “voicing” mechanisms that today’s technology provides. And pretty soon you are not merely observing the seminar, but becoming part of it. Which obligates you in some sense to “pass it on” by inserting links that will prod the rare reader of one’s own thoughts to explore the intellectual terrain you have covered…..

But then you run out of time and realize that the links will have to wait until later in the day….

March 23rd, 2009 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments