How Twitter Makes Me Slightly Less Dumb... Slightly

Many people, especially academics, do not understand Twitter. 140 characters is very limiting for people familiar with 60 page Econometrica papers. Research requires deep-thinking. The skeptics I talk to see downsides.

  1. It is very fast-paced.
  2. It involves reacting to comments without deep consideration.
  3. Things on Twitter can better learned without Twitter.

I completely agree with the first; it requires a filter. I partially agree with the second; it requires self-discipline to stop and think. I completely disagree with the third; Twitter has a comparative advantage. Yesterday proved this again for me.

I tweeted a link to an old quote from my blog about Austrians', particularly Kirzner's, emphasis on Knightian uncertainty, compared to other economists. While I believe my blog post is fair, the comment I gave it on Twitter did not accurately represent my original point and Marc Bellemare, rightfully, called me out.

Professor Bellemare explained that many other economists and him were working on these issues, but under a different term, ambiguity. So I asked him for some references and within minutes I had sources to check out.

Boom, boom, boom. Just like that, I had three references. And the articles were fascinating. I spent last night reading through papers and getting a broad understanding of the idea (sorry problem sets, I will get to you soon).

Within the last ten years, a group of economists have worked to take this concept and apply it from experiments to panel data. It has not been fully integrated into more common models the way risk aversion has, but it is a growing field. It is definitely an area I want to keep updated on.

How would I have found this without social media, specifically Twitter? I would have had to been conversing with someone at my university who is working in this area. Now, my program is large, but a lot of specialties exist beyond what my immediate contacts know.

This was not a rare occurrence on Twitter. Twitter (and this blog) have exposed me to much, much more. Some is uninteresting to me. Some is not. Still, it would be much tougher without these social media tools and I urge everyone to give them a try. I am so thankful for all I have learned from these economists.

Start getting email updates to blogs. I have recommendations on the right side of this page, plus my favorites here. Join Twitter- follow me for good measure ;). Use Facebook for intellectual gain between pictures of cats.

After trying one of these, if you do not see the benefit, come back to this post and call me a liar. Until then, tweet on.