History of Economics Playground

History of Economics and Images: static and dynamic

  There has been an important movement towards making available on the web a host of open courses. One can easily access courses from major American universities such as Harvard, MIT, Yale and Princeton, among others (see the Open Courseware Consortium for similar initiatives worldwide).

  Historians of economics have put effort in collecting and making available pictures, of famous economists in Duke's "Economists' Portraits", or of "Famous Economists' Grave Sites" by Malcolm Rutherford. But we have been timid in producing videos and open courses. We have recorded symposiums and special events (such as one in 2009 in Brazil, another in 2010, several events organized by the History of Political Economy Center at Duke), summer schools (such as the Summer Institute for the History of Economics at Richmond), and the video interviews we have conducted at various INET's events that we use in this blog. But besides these video interviews, we have not really considered the issue of producing video materials for the web: What would be a good format? How long should each video be? What kind of content? And related questions.

  Should we be more conscious about this issue? I believe so. What should we do: let individual historians do whatever they see fit and have resources available to implement, or should we get the history of economics societies involved in some sort of organized effort? For instance, the America Economic Association (AEA) proudly started in 2009 a series of webcasts of special sessions at the ASSA meetings, which are made available at the meeting's website (which is in fact AEA's website...). Related to the issue of the importance of the HES sessions at the ASSA meetings discussed here, shoudl we try recording some sessions along with AEA's initiative and negotiate to publicize them at the same website?

  I am not expecting to see historians in Hollywood shooting movies on famous and interesting economists. But perhaps we can take advantage of that new trend on the web and make more conscious and articulate efforts.

P.S.: [added afterwards] It is very interesting that Manuela Mosca, a well known historian of economics, has in fact made a nice documentary on Antonio de Viti de Marco, a famous Italian public finance economist. The film is available here. Still the question of an articulate effort by historians of economics to produce video materials for the web remains.



I did a documentary on Antonio de Viti de Marco. This is the link:
There is also a book (not yet translated into English) with my introduction devoted to methodological issues.


   Dear Manuela,

sorry for not including your movie in the original post, my bad. I'll add a "P.S." correcting my mistake. But still I think there is a bigger issue of historians putting more articulate effort in producing video materials for the web.


Hi Pedro, a new idea whose time has come, or an old idea which needs reviving?

I'm reminded of Milton Friedman's very succesful "Free to Choose" tv series in the 1980s which is still free to watch and done by PBS, and free to watch on-line (http://miltonfriedman.blogspot.com.au/) not to mention TV broadcasts recorded by Keynes himself (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1S9F3agsUA)... Wonder if that is a place to start - although they didn't have our easy access to technology ;)



    Hi Ben,

it is true that economists have had many years ago video initiatives that were very successful (before that, some has experienced with radio, as Keynes). Friedman's and Keynes's initiatives are certainly in this group. But I was pushing more the issue to territory of the historians of economics in the internet era, and the possible doors that may open in case we are more aware of this issue and take more proactive courses of action. This may include using old videos as the ones you mentioned, probably in an edited form. Cheers!

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