In a recent note on a public health course on blogging, I referred to the need for more bloggers in academic medicine (see: Public Health Graduate Students Offered Practical Course in Social Media). At the end of the piece, I cited the blogging efforts of academic economists Tyler Cower and Alex Tabarrok in Marginal Revolution. It's one of my favorites. At any rate, noted economist Paul Romer refers to this blog in terms of the competition for ideas and the need for alternatives in the academic journals (see: Science on the Internet). Here is an excerpt from his note:
Marginal Revolution, Tyler’s blog with Alex Tabarrok, is a new alternative to the traditional gatekeepers in economics — the journal editors or the program leaders at the NBER [National Bureau of Economic Research]. Tyler and Alex earned this position simply by being good at what they do. Adding sites like this may do more to increase competition in the space of ideas than traditional strategies such as creating new journals. A mention from a site like MR [Marginal Revolution] is now an alternative way for new ideas to get attention, one that can parallel the traditional mechanisms.
In my view, blogs can offer a fresh view and solutions that are not always available in academic journals. One example in the world of pathology has been the recent activities by the FDA regarding digital pathology. Keith Kaplan, who posts over at Digital Pathology Blog, wrote about the current situation in an incisive and humorous way (see: Regulators regulating digital scanners). I quoted some of Keith's comments in my note and then added some on my own ideas in a follow-up note (see: Digital Pathology and the FDA; WSI Systems Called Class III Devices). By the way, much of this commentary was stimulated by an article in CAP Today, a monthly tabloid published by the CAP (see: Regulators scanning the digital scanners). I doubt that there will be even a hint of this interaction in any articles about the evolution of digital pathology in the pathology journals if and when they appear.