Important Questions

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Now that CBO Director Peter Orszag’s designation as the new administration’s OMB Director is official, we can get down to the really important questions. For example: Wither the CBO Director’s blog? Acting Director Bob Sunshine has a post up saying goodbye to Orszag, but no word on the future, perhaps because he’s only the acting director. And will OMB have a blog?

I raise these issues somewhat in jest. But also in earnest. The CBO blog was, in my view, an excellent idea. Blogs have a reputation for being full of fluff and trivia, but they’re actually an ideal publication outlet for hyper-earnest, incredibly boring reports that are of very little interest to anyone. Obviously, the highest traffic is going to go to sites that write about stuff people do find interesting. But it’s not the CBO’s fault that its products don’t attract widespread interest — it’s inherent to their mission. And the genius of online publishing is that there’s no problem with being unpopular. The nature of publishing is that the higher your fixed costs of production and distribution, the more important it becomes to be able to move a large volume of product so as to spread the fixed costs out. But online your fixed costs are essentially zero. What’s more, putting your stuff on a blog — even if it’s mostly links to PDFs and stuff — can render your material much more salient to Google, thus meaning that that minority of people who are interested in what you’re doing have maximum chance of finding it.