Rajiv Sethi has a very interesting post on the contribution of blogs to the progress of economics here.
“The community of academic economists is increasingly coming to be judged not simply by peer reviewers at journals or by carefully screened and selected cohorts of students, but by a global audience of curious individuals spanning multiple disciplines and specializations. Voices that have long been silenced in mainstream journals now insist on being heard on an equal footing. Arguments on blogs seem to be judged largely on their merits, independently of the professional stature of those making them. This has allowed economists in far-flung places with heavy teaching loads, or those who pursued non-academic career paths, to join debates. Even anonymous writers and autodidacts can wield considerable influence in this environment, and a number of genuinely interdisciplinary blogs have emerged...”
My comment: I completely agree. In the age of information, closed intellectual professions’ monopoly power is eroded while open competition of ideas, both good and bad, prospers. The decentralized production of knowledge has a competitive advantage over centralized, hierarchically organized, production of ideas in large firms (read “universities”). Great times.