A few days ago the New York Times offered me one of their regular op-ed positions - the twice-a-week columns written by Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, etc.. - and I accepted. The assignment will begin with the millennium. I will retain my MIT position, and continue to do both teaching and research; however, the columns at Slate and Fortune will have to go. The Times also has very strict conflict-of-interest rules, which will require me to stop much of the consulting and speaking I now do. (Incidentally, this means that my new job will actually reduce my income substantially).
Why am I doing this? In some ways it is a natural extension of work over the past five years: given that I have been making considerable efforts to communicate with a broader audience in any case, the opportunity to write regularly for the world's most influential single publication is pretty hard to resist. I have been very happy with both Fortune and Slate, but they do not have the reach of my new employers. A column in the Times is, as Keynes might have put it, "dangerous for good or evil" in a way that no other publication can match.
The downside of this appointment is obvious: it is a massive commitment. I currently write a regularly scheduled column every two weeks; now it will be four times that frequency, roughly 100 per year. The Times columns will be shorter than those in Slate and Fortune; that makes them harder, not easier, to write. My theory is that the conflict of interest rules, which will give me an artificial backbone against other commitments and excessive travel, will more than make up for the extra writing burden, and that I will have more rather than less time for other activities, including serious research. We'll see how it works out in practice.
The column does not yet have a name, nor am I sure yet exactly how columns will be put on the web - direct link to the Times op-ed archive , copies here, or what. I will continue to maintain this site, and will post whatever I can here. I have a strange suspicion that phase diagrams and offer curves will rarely appear on the op-ed page; but they will continue to appear here.