Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Praise of Mark Thoma

By the first time I met Mark Thoma, at dinner after a seminar at the U of O economics department, I had already become an avid reader of his blog. Of course, given his status of a blogger, I assumed he was introverted and anti-social - "uh oh" I thought, "there goes dinner." But I found out that my preconceptions were entirely misplaced, I was a little embarrassed to say to him that I was a big fan of his blog, but he was both delighted and delightful. Then, as now, I couldn't quite understand how he managed to do it. For anyone who has visited his site, Economist's View, you'll understand what I mean. It is a one stop site for just about all that is important in economics journalism, opinion and research - visit there once a day and you don't need to go anywhere else. Anyway, I couldn't help but ask him how he does it. He looked at me and said quite simply, "I don't sleep." I think he meant it.

Anyway, his efforts have not gone unnoticed, he is one of the most popular economics bloggers in the world and recently he has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal as one of the "Stars of the Blogosphere." And recently another of my favorite economics bloggers David Warsh, author of Economic Principals, authored a lengthy profile of Mark and his blog. Here is a taste:

But Thoma is the most nearly perpendicular of them all. He stands at a right angle to the plane of mainstream debate, selecting and presenting the various arguments fully and fairly. Anybody who builds anything knows that trueing things up – making them level, square, concentric, or, in this case, fair and balanced – is a crucial step along the way. Nobody does a better job of digesting online economic commentary than he does.

It goes on at some length and is well worth a read. Mark has really cornered the market in the blogosphere as the economic content aggregator. When I considered starting this blog, I understood that I could never attempt to do what he does, and I consciously don't try. My aims are much more modest as is my contribution. He was quite gracious when I told him about starting my blog, but more importantly, he was one of my main sources of inspiration.

So thanks Mark, for everything.

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