Whilst I initially planned to just cut back on the volume of posts, I have decided to take an indefinite break from blogging. If I may beg your attention for a few short minutes, I would like to explain why.
Back in December, before I began my three-week Christmas holiday, I posted a list of books I intended to read over the period. I thought making a public statement about it would mean I would actually do it. Compared to the rate at which I used to read, it should have been a doddle.
As it turned out, I barely managed to read a third of them. Because I spent most of my time thinking about what to write on my blog. To help provide inspiration, and to avoid saying the same things as other people, I more than doubled the number of subscriptions in my Google Reader. I was spending several hours a day just reading other people’s blogs, and thinking about how I could say something interesting and novel in response. And on one or two occasions, I believe I have succeeded.
However, any limited success I may have experienced has come at a profound cost. I find myself no longer as oriented towards truth and understanding, but more on how to go about agreeing or disagreeing with a particular intellectual community – economics bloggers. In my own interactions with my family and friends, I find it increasingly difficult to talk informally on the subjects I write about on my blog, so embedded my thinking has become within the language, conventions and background assumptions of the economics blogosphere.
In short, I find myself a less well-rounded human being than I was, even compared to just three or four months ago. I barely read novels any more (I haven’t touched my Kindle in ages, and I own dozens of books I have paid for but not yet read). My philosophy paper-in-progress – ‘Who are the speakers of English’ – languishes on my hard drive, unedited for weeks. I don’t have the conversations I used to, transitioning effortlessly between history, philosophy, theology, politics, economics, literature and film – and it’s because I’m reading blogs instead.
Here you might say: “Richard, why not just cut down on the blogging, rather than the more drastic step of cutting it out completely“? Quite simply, because it is so addictive. When my pageviews started going up, and people started linking to me and commenting, I just couldn’t stop worrying about all the things I write that I realize are wrong or grossly oversimplified. I always want to take time I don’t have to write something new, explain things better, show where I think I may be right and where I was definitely wrong. Blogging, I fear, is not a good fit for someone of my skeptical and critical temperament.
In an undeserved stroke of fortune, I have had some fantastic commenters somehow find their way over to my humble blog. Thank you all for abiding by the most unusual comments policy on the web, and for putting up with my gibberish. In particular, I would like to single out Lars Christensen, Steve Roth, ‘Max’, Bob Murphy and especially Nick Rowe for their valuable contributions, sometimes sharp criticisms but always kind words.
I have generally eschewed advocacy on this blog, but I would like to tell you that whilst I am a Bleeding Heart Libertarian, a Market Monetarist and a Possibilian (and if you don’t know what any of those terms mean, I would highly recommend you click on the links), above all I strongly believe in academic civility and Bayesian thinking. Over the course of this project I have had to constantly update (and often radically revise) my beliefs, which is so much easier to do when disagreements have been expressed in a civil and respectful manner. I would urge you to take the same attitude in all your endeavours.
Finally, this is an indefinite and not a permanent hiatus, so please do subscribe in case I ever come back.
Thanks so much for reading,