Becker and Posner start off their much awaited blog with a comparison of the “blogosphere” to the free market. Or at least that’s my take. The itneresting further comparison to the free market that I’d draw is that blogs, and the bulletin boards and other online communities that preceded them, are spontaneous. The “blog” is just the latest, and most effective, in a string of developments going back at least as far as the electronic bulletin boards of the 1980s and early USENET newsgroups. The bigger question? “What’s next?”
Blogging is a major new social, political, and economic phenomenon. It is a fresh and striking exemplification of Friedrich Hayek’s thesis that knowledge is widely distributed among people and that the challenge to society is to create mechanisms for pooling that knowledge. The powerful mechanism that was the focus of Hayek%u2019s work, as as of economists generally, is the price system (the market). The newest mechanism is the “blogosphere.” There are 4 million blogs. The internet enables the instantaneous pooling (and hence correction, refinement, and amplification) of the ideas and opinions, facts and images, reportage and scholarship, generated by bloggers.