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Imminent death of the blogs predicted, except not

#1. Phase I: Exchanges in blog comments and e-mail conversations (May 2010 - December 2010)

There's been some loose talk lately that the blogosphere is no longer "vital." And indeed some blogs are ripe for disintermediation; who needs a partisan blog when you've got The Party? And who needs who needs Kos when you've got Maxim?

But to those who say that blogging is dead, I say, take a look at this chart:

power curce

It shows how a single comment ignited a media and policy explosion* two-and-a-half years later. Does that look like a power curve to you, or what?

The chart above is a postage stamp-sized version of the History of the Proof Platinum Coin Concept, 2010-2013 timeline** -- each of the tiny black horizontal lines is link to a piece of content, and they stack up vertically by date. And I put parts of the timeline into a slideshow, above -- sorry about the JPEG fuzzies, still working on that -- so there's a post card-sized version of the timeline, too (with Skitch annotations). Now, I should say that the timeline is just a super-duper aggregation or link-fest; there's very little interpretation or analysis. (For that, see letsgetitdone's excellent book on How the Proof Platinum Coin Concept was Propagated, especially Chapter 1: "Origin and Early History of Platinum Coin Seigniorage In the Blogosphere".) Still, we can observe a lot by watching.

0. It's beautiful and fitting that the PPC power curve has its fons et origo at a blog named "The Center of the Universe."

1. The power curve is also shaped like an incoming tide: Each wave is higher than the wave before, but there are periods of relative stillness and inactivity between the waves. I believe that the tide is recurrent budgetary crises: At each crisis, the PPC solution appears more attractive, or at least more chatter-worthy, possibly because alternatives have proven infeasible.

2. The distribution of the posts follows a power law. One reason for that distribution would be the propagation of the Proof Platinum Coin (PPC) concept through a scale free network, which the Internet is known to be. On the left, starting with a single comment (Phase 1) we have a horizontal "long tail" of comments and sparse posts. On the right (Phase 6) we have a "head" going vertical as the concept propagates explosively. Epidemics follow a similar pattern.

3. Not all inflection points are visible. For example, email correspondence (Phase I, first slide) between PPC advocates is important, but isn't public, so can't go on the record. Similarly, an interview that ends up on radio or TV will appear here; but an interview that ends up on the cutting room floor will not. Both may be equally important from the standpoint of outcomes, but only one appears on the record.

* * *

Slides are numbered #1, #2...

#1, #2, #3 From the standpoint of propagation (as opposed to the history of ideas) posts (Phase I, second slide and Phase II) are a more important inflection point than comments. First, many comments are lost through system changes, or are trapped in Disqus-like systems, unlinkable. Second, posts tend to have human-readable URLs, and so are linkable from other blogs. Third, search engines, tracking software, and crawlers catalog posts by URL, and not comments. Finally, most comments are simply not interesting enough to track; and if we had to, we'd need a data center like the NSA's in Utah.

#4 In Phase 3, the "ampitude? (??) of the power curve increases, as posts move outside the initial "long tail" incubator into other MMT-friendly sites and the econoblogger community; Cullen Roche, for example.

#5 Phase 4 presents an important inflection point, as PPC enters the mainstream through Felix Salmon of Reuters, Matt Yglesias, and influential law blogger Jack Balkin. I don't think its a coincidence that PPC was presented in Naked Capitalism (third ranked econoblog by traffic) immediately before Felix Salmon covered the story. Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias was prompted to cover the PPC by a reader citing Beowulf at FDL; and Balkin cites to the same Beowulf post, as well as a post by letsgetitdone, also at FDL. Other MMTers and econobloggers like Warren Mosler, Tom Hickey, and Scott Sumner pile on.

#6 Phase 5, with the 2011 debt ceiling compromise, amplifies PPC's mainstream presence, with Krugman and the Economist joining in for the first time, and bloggers and mainstreamers continuing their activity.

#7 Phase 6 begins with 2012's "Fiscal Cliff." For the first time, a top conservative think tank, AEI, posts on PPC. This seems to open the floodgates, and amplitude increases again. For the first time (that we know of so far) PPC appears on TV (CNBC), and begins to thoroughly penetrate the political class: Atrios is the key bellwether here.

#8 Phase 6 continues, as PPC enters electoral politics as Jerry Nadler (D-NY) endorses it. I don't think it's a coincidence that Paul Krugman (D-Izvestia) endorsed it the same day, especially given what House Leader John Boehner did t New York's expectations for relief following Hurricane Sandy.

And as you can see, the links go literally off the chart -- the arrow pointing downward points to Krugman. (I haven't quite mastered proportions needed for slideshows yet; sorry!).

So there I will end. I make no judgment on outcomes (though I agree with letsgetitdone on what's at stake). However, I do think the data presented here shows definitively that blogging is not dead and has a real impact. In addition, I think the phases (hat tip, letsgetidone) may turn out to be a useful analytical tool for other campaigns.

NOTE Thanks to many for links on the timeline, but especially to letsgetitdone, Stephanie Kelton, and especially to Cullen Roche for raising early comments on PPC from undeserved obscurity.

NOTE * And a sausage-making explosion too, at least in early 2013, but that's a metaphor that just screams "Don't go there!"

NOTE ** Flipped for aesthetics, so that the curve points upward and not down, as on the actual timeline. Yes, I made the chart by pasting together screen dumps. Too low tech, but I haven't figured out how to drive a chart like this from data yet.

UPDATE Correntians, one of the reasons for the site relaunch was to enable analysis and visualizations like this. Better tools!

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letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Found a correction. The first post you have by beowulf wasn't a post. It was a lengthy comment by beowulf on a post by Marshall Auerback. Quoting my history post:

. . . . But, the first comment of his I noticed on PCS was at New Deal 2.0. Unfortunately, when The Roosevelt Institute redid its New Deal 2.0 site, it wiped out the record of beo’s comment. However, I quoted his ND 2.0 proposal in a post on November 12, 2010 discussing a possible Government shutdown due to the debt ceiling. I cross-posted this at Correntewire too where beowulf commented further on the platinum coin option.

Oh, one more thing, the beo comment you labeled a Post was on November 4, 2010.

So, to summarize, the first post in which PCS was mentioned in any detail was my 11/12/10 post. The detail was a quote from beo's comment of November 4. The first Post which actually featured PCS as the primary focus was beo's January 3, 2010 post at FDL, which was also cross-posted at Correntewire, and the second was my post on January 5, at both FDL and Correntewire.

Submitted by lambert on

The graphics took much longer than i thought, o ineed to o through, add links, ake corrections etc

Submitted by lambert on

The graphics took much longer than i thought, o ineed to o through, add links, ake corrections etc

Submitted by cg.eye on

if you can call continued coverage on Gawker that...

It's not every day you get an email from a former director of the U.S. Mint (unless you're married to one, probably) — but it's also not every day that you write about the very real possibility that the U.S. Treasury might mint a platinum coin worth one trillion dollars. Either way, it was an excellent surprise to hear from Philip Diehl, the former Mint director and Treasury chief of staff who drafted Sec. 5112 of title 31, United States Code with Rep. Mike Castle — in other words, the guy who wrote the "trillion-dollar coin" law. His take? Not only does the law clearly allow for the coin to be minted, it also would have "no negative macroeconomic effects."

Submitted by Hugh on

NBC Nightly News had a story about the platinum coin on this evening. It was pretty stupid. Homer Simpson, a photo of Krugman's saying do it, and the only economist on live from the University of Chicago. Need I say more.

In the hierarchy of Establishment responses, trivializing is the step that comes after ignoring and just before co-opting and attacking.