Brad DeLong over at UC Berkeley writes a mean blog, Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal, from his office at Evans Hall with a view of the campus and the Golden Gate Bridge off to the west. He considers the academic enviroment he lives in to be a paradise. But he says that he has found paradise squared in The Invisible College in “the past three years, with the arrival of Web logging”:
Right now I’m looking out my office window, perched above the large, grassy, Frisbee-playing, picnicking, and sunbathing area that stretches through Berkeley’s campus. I’m looking straight out at the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a view that I marvel at every day. I wonder why the chancellor hasn’t confiscated such offices and rented them out to hedge funds to improve the university’s finances.
I walk out my door and look around: at the offices of professors who know more about topics like the history of the international monetary system or the evolution of income distribution than any other human beings alive, and at graduate students hanging out in the lounge. It’s a brilliant intellectual community, this little slice of the world that is our visible college. You run into people in the hall and the lounge, and you learn interesting things. Paradise. For an academic, at least.
But I am greedy. I want more. I would like a larger college, an invisible college, of more people to talk to, pointing me to more interesting things. People whose views and opinions I can react to, and who will react to my reasoned and well-thought-out opinions, and to my unreasoned and off-the-cuff ones as well. It would be really nice to have Paul Krugman three doors down, so I could bump into him occasionally and ask, “Hey, Paul, what do you think of .. .” Aggressive younger people interested in public policy and public finance would be excellent. Berkeley is deficient in not having enough right-wingers; a healthy college has a well-diversified intellectual portfolio. The political scientists are too far away to run into by accident — somebody like Dan Drezner would be nice to have around (even if he does get incidence wrong sometimes).
Over the past three years, with the arrival of Web logging, I have been able to add such people to those I bump into — in a virtual sense — every week. My invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least.
Brad is worth reading.