In my own case, I began writing online in 1996, when Slate’s founding editor, Michael Kinsley, signed me up to write a monthly column. This was still traditional column-writing - length constraints were less rigid, editing less intrusive and gratification less delayed than in print, but still relatively old-fashioned. However, it did get me accustomed to the online format. Then came the Asian financial crisis. Everyone was scrambling to make sense of what was happening, and both events and new ideas were coming far too fast for traditional publications to keep up. So I began posting little essays, thoughts and models on my home page at M.I.T - which still exists (web.mit.edu/krugman/www)! I wasn’t using blogging software; I just uploaded stuff and put links on the page. But it was still, effectively, a form of blogging, and it turned out that a lot of people read it. That’s where I posted my initial efforts to create a liquidity trap model and worked through my thoughts on macroeconomics and more. And most of the links still seem to work .
Other people were doing similar things. The economist Nouriel Roubini took the discussion to the next level by creating a web page dedicated to the Asian financial crisis (which seems to be gone) that acted as a compendium and clearing house for most of the interesting work on the subject. So by the end of the 1990s, a lot of the substantive discussion of international macroeconomics and finance was already taking place online, bypassing the traditional channels.
A proper blog came much later, when I realized that I wanted a place to explore the backstory behind my New York Times columns. Later, The Times added a Twitter feed (which I didn’t even know existed until Andy Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, casually mentioned that I had 600,000 followers). And so here we are today.