Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Exploiting my Thirty Minutes of Fame

Someone recently posted, somewhere online, a picture of me playing World of Warcraft while listening to a talk at the International Students for Liberty conference last weekend. It got quite a lot of attention, including, I am told, "over 5,000,000 click rate and 10k SHARE" in China.

My guess is that there are two things going on. One is that people who already know of my existence see this as evidence that I am a real person, not some academic off in outer space somewhere. The other is that people who have been told by their parents or other authority figures that playing WoW is a juvenile activity and a waste of time see the picture as evidence on their side of the argument.

My son Bill, having observed the phenomenon online, suggests that I ought to find some way of taking advantage of my temporary fame. His only idea was setting up an AMA on Reddit, something I might do if I can figure out how—I have done two AMA's in the past, but both were arranged by other people. 

This post is an alternative approach. If lots of people are (briefly) looking at me, the obvious thing to do is to point them at things of mine that I would like them to read and that they might enjoy reading:

My web page, with lots and lots of stuff on it, including links to the full text of several of my books and most of my articles.

The third edition of my first book, The Machinery of Freedom (Kindle. The hardcopy will be available shortly on Amazon).

Harald, my first novel. EBook version. Free podcasts of it, read by me.

Salamander, my second novel. (Kindle. The hardcopy of that will also be available shortly on Amazon)

And for any who share my interests in recreational medievalism, two books coauthored with my wife:

A Miscellany. Free pdf. Hardcopy.

How to Milk an Almond, Stuff an Egg, and Armor a Turnip: A Thousand Years of Recipes. Free pdf. Hardcopy.



At 2:33 PM, February 18, 2015, Blogger Matt Gilliland said...

I'd be happy to set up another AMA for you, though I don't know how much extra attention it will get because of the picture. Let me know if you're interested!

At 12:09 AM, February 19, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Friedman,

I'm one of the moderators of /r/IAmA. We'd love to have you come do an AMA with us. If you already have a reddit account, you can message us directly using this link -

Alternatively, you can email us at AMAVerify (at)

We look forward to hearing from you


At 1:38 PM, February 19, 2015, Anonymous Joeleee said...

Does anyone have a link to the photo in question? I haven't come across it in my browsing.

At 11:08 PM, February 19, 2015, Blogger Unknown said...

I'd either ask you questions on polycentric law, as it is one of my favorite topics, or try and drill you on Austrian methodology.

Probably the former.

At 10:05 AM, February 20, 2015, Blogger John C. Webb said...

Just as a note... Your website is terrific for those of us who love getting neck deep in AnCap thought. However, a little modernizing of the layout would certainly help the toe-in-the-water types get more out of you web page.

At 11:43 AM, February 20, 2015, Blogger David Friedman said...


I have had several people make that suggestion. I created and maintain the page myself, and would like to continue doing so, and am not inclined to put a lot of time and effort into learning and using new tools. Can you describe the sort of reasonably simple changes that you think would help? Alternatively, is there a tool you would recommend that does not require a large investment of time and energy to learn and use?

At 4:15 PM, February 20, 2015, Blogger Jonathan said...

I think you've already been famous for a long time for various different reasons and in various different subsets of humanity. More famous than I am, anyway. :)

At 7:36 AM, February 22, 2015, Blogger jeremy said...

1) I don't think the blog necessarily needs a makeover to have people read it. To cite a recent example, Slatestarcodex is pretty ugly.
2) You could apply a more modern Blogger theme. I've not used much, but a Google for "Blogger theme" seems to reveal plenty.
3) You could switch services entirely. is my favorite.

At 3:18 AM, February 25, 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with jeremy, the site is adequate and doesn't need a makeover.maybe just a theme with bigger font or something to go better with smartphones. what i would add is your blogroll.many bloggers have it, you could as well.i would shorten the archive list and put it in it's place. also, once in a while you could do a link dump...something like 'potpourri' bob murphy does, or 'assorted links' on marginal revolution. it's a fairly easy way to generate traffic and content

At 4:55 AM, February 25, 2015, Blogger Tibor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:56 AM, February 25, 2015, Blogger Tibor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:56 AM, February 25, 2015, Blogger Tibor said...

Anonymous, jeremy:

I guess the site John had in mind was not the blogger one, but, which indeed is a bit "unruly".

However, in my experience this is what websites of academics look like :) I would just suggest replacing the awful black on blue-green scheme with just simple black and white and maybe reorganize the hyperlinks a little so that everything is easily accessible and one does not have to scroll the whole page to find what the link to something he is looking for. Otherwise, I think that fancy design is useful for commercial website, but not really necessary for a personal site. It is the content that makes the website good, not the eyecandy.

At 4:59 PM, March 10, 2015, Anonymous Stevo Darkly said...

I've been visiting for years and years. One change I'd strongly wish for (which is mostly cosmetic and I hope simple to implement, but would greatly improve readability) is to add some margin space to the left and the right, instead of having the text run from one edge -- the very edge! -- of the screen to the other.

That would help a lot. Hopefully a relatively minor formatting adjustment could do it? Currently the pages are just too wide for reading comfort.

My second wish would be to add some easier and more obvious way to tell when that site has been updated, and where. Currently updates are announced at various places on the main page, but because there are so many "old" updates, and the page is kind of hard to read, the updates are far from obvious when they appear.

Maybe some day there would be an obvious link to an "updates" page, where all updates could appear as a running list, with a date for when each update was made, and a link to the location of said update.

The second wish is probably more difficult and also less important, since hasn't been updated in several months (or years?) anyway ... as far as I can tell.

That said, the site is certainly a treasure trove of interesting and informative material. Visiting there is like rummaging through the attic of an eccentric explorer and collector. There are both pros and cons to that, though.

As for this blogger page: It's perfectly fine as far as I'm concerned.


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