A while back, I had a group at work with whom I’d have regular coffee breaks with. During these coffee conversations, which normally occurred during lunch hour, topics of interest, generally involving work, but oftentimes involving the economy in general, would be discussed. These discussions often yielded important ideas for our work, or for special projects, so the discussions were an integral part of widening our group’s aggregate knowledge base, and in increasing our respective productivities.
I have since moved on and I no longer get to have these conversations with the old group. But oftentimes, I would still have these conversation in my head, and I would yearn for the good old give and take with a group similarly engrossed with the same areas of interest. This is how I have come to get into blogging, because it essentially replicates the exchange of ideas and information that my old coffee group had. In fact, it was one of my old group mates who introduced me to the idea of blogging.
So now I put thoughts and topics on this blog that I would have otherwise discussed over cups of hot beverage with the old group. The act of writing my thoughts forces me to articulate and synthesize a starting position about a topic, much like when I was trying to get the group to my way of thinking, or when asking them for inputs in areas where my own levels of expertise was still lacking. Only this time, with a blog posted on the internet, the entire world wide web are the possible listeners and exchangers of ideas.
I blog pseudonymously because I want the freedom to express whatever positions I have, without regard to possible repercussions to my working life. I still work in private industry, and hence, anything I write publicly, using my own name, will come up in google searches, along with my own name. Hence, any and all positions I have in the blog, now or ever in the past, whether I still favour that position, have revised it a bit, or completely abandoned, can and will be used against me or the organization that I work with. That isn't a very wise choice, especially when some of the ideas and positions I adhere to could be detrimental to current or future clients, funders, partners, or workmates. So to avoid possible breaches of this personally imposed confidentiality, I don’t talk about having the blog, even to my family and closest friends . (I'm aware that Google, the owner of this blogging platform, could one day be a source of breach).
I chose economics as my specific area of conversation because of its relevance to current world problems. And ever since I read Joseph Stiglitz’ Globalization and its Discontents, I have come to realize that what we sometimes know to be correct prescriptions to economic problems could actually be, if you think about it, making problems worse. His book convinced me that we really don’t know enough about economics for anyone to be a fool-proof prescriptive policy adviser. Each case is different, and requires a specific inquiry into its own circumstances.
I have ever since been an omnivorous reader of economic ideas, to cull the best ideas, from both unconventional sources and what Stiglitz terms conventional wisdom. I’ve since come to notice that you can take conventional approaches in your search for answers, but if you think outside the box, still arrive at unconventional conclusions.
I’d like to believe that my small contributions, whether in this blog, or in discussions somewhere else, help and in framing the discussions better, in arriving at better approaches, and in getting closer to a correct answer, one blog discussion at a time. Hopefully, these discussions will yield useful ideas, widen our over-all aggregate knowledge base, and increase our chances of arriving at solutions that, while they solve the current problems at hand, minimize the possibility of causing the next problems.