Overworked, Public, Economist -- These are the three words Paul Krugman used to described himself as we sat back in Princeton, NJ for our interview. Add to that the titles 'New York Times columnist,' 'Princeton Professor of Economics' and '2008 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics' and you begin to get a sense of the man behind all of the big headlines.
In Part 2 of my conversation with Krugman, we discuss everything from the impact of the Yes We Can generation, to political nominations within the Obama administration.
An interview with Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman (Part 2)
Where do you see the biggest impact of 'You 2.0' and the Obama administration's social media strategy in the next four years?
Krugman: Some of it has already happened.
There have been some proposed appointments in the national security area, or at least floated appointments, that have essentially been torpedoed because the online community said no, 'these guys are unacceptable!' and rightly so.
There will be other areas affected but remember that basic policy formulation won't come out of this stuff because it's detailed. It will always require somebody sitting at a desk with lines of access and so on... But fast critique now demands that issues be brought to the front of the table when they were not being considered in the past.
Yes, the online community is gaining in power and influence and the effects are compounded because we realize it. Yes, it will be harder for this (Obama) administration to slip!
In the later Clinton years, the administration took on more of a managerial role and wasn't as pro-corporate as a republican administration but less of a force for democratic change than one would have hoped. That's partly because they had a hostile congress but it's also that there was no effective community saying: 'Hey this is not what we elected you for!' I think the Obama administration will have that kind of community and a good thing, too!
Now that people all over the world have seen the impact that a single person can have using social networking technology -- do you think that's going to change the way that we view our own possibility to actually take control of our own destinies?
Krugman: I think there is something like that happening and it's not just what is happening in America. What I hear a lot, is that many countries (sic), including very oppressive regimes --
it starts as people having Facebook profiles just for friends, then something happens. It turns out that that same technology, that same involvement is also a way of getting political action together. People can be mobilized and I think it changes a lot of things.
In the 18th century, when we lived in small towns and everybody could participate and then we moved to this world where the power became very distant and news media far away, dictated how you saw the world. Now I don't want to romanticize it but I think that it's going to affect a lot of the world.
Take the famous Jacques Chirac quote: "The internet is an Anglo Saxon network,' that is no longer true at all. I watch my own links for my blog posts and I can see that we really are a small world. I'm seeing Chinese links, Korean links, Russian links. It's a world now where this involvement has spread to very many cultures and indeed it is a very small world.