On the academic value of blogging

The Economist published an article a few weeks ago, that I've only just discovered, titled "A Less Dismal Debate," subtitle: "Blogs are blamed for cheapening debate in some fields. Yet they have enriched economics." Excerpt:

The back-and-forth between bloggers resembles the informal chats, in university hallways and coffee rooms, that have always stimulated economic research, argues Paul Krugman, a Nobel-prizewinning economist who blogs at the New York Times. But moving the conversation online means that far more people can take part.

I'll grant that the claims in the article aren't well-cited.  For example:

Research (by two blogging economists at the World Bank) suggests that academic papers cited by bloggers are far more likely to be downloaded. [emphasis mine]

It would have been nice if there were some googlable terms in there, or better, a hyperlink to the research itself.  So I wouldn't cite this article as evidence, itself, of the value of blogging.

On the other hand, the article espouses the view (which I believe to be true) that the blogosphere enriches dialogue, and better serves the needs of an information-oriented society than mainstream media is capable of.  This may not be evidence for the truth of that claim, but it's unambiguous evidence that this view is gaining mainstream traction.

So I'm happy to consider this a win for team blogging, even if the Economist hasn't quite caught up to the mechanisms (like linking your sources in the text) that make blogging so much better than print.