In the autumn of 2017, I started the instagram account @econbooks to make weekly book recommendations on popular science books, mostly on economics and related disciplines. I absolutely love reading popular economics books, and saw this as a way to motivate myself to read more. I also realized that I started reading differently, comprehending it better since I had in the back of my mind that I was going to write about the book and what lessons it could teach. As I’m writing this (17 january 2019) I have made 64 posts on the account, and it now has around 1500 followers. In december of 2018 I wrote a list of book recommendations for christmas gifts that can be read here. This is not the first project that I’ve entertained myself with, here are some things I’ve done in the past.
In 2016, I got my own website and started writing this blog. I wanted to improve my writing, and thought this to be a good way to motivate myself to write more. I had a blog many years ago (2010-2011 – it feels like a lifetime ago), where I wrote under a pseudonym. It still exists (internet never forgets), but considering the silly things I wrote, I’m glad I wrote under a pseudonym.
Another thing I did in 2016 was to learn the basics of coding in python. Coding is best learnt by setting up a project, so I decided to make a simulation model of how betting markets work and how a wealth distribution changes over time as people play. I read a lot of interesting research about betting markets doing this and I documented the process with the intention to publish it here on my blog. Unfortunately I never finished the text.
In 2016 I also started writing on a manuscript for a book. I was trying to find a book to read that analyzed the fantasy world in Harry Potter using the tools of economics. I couldn’t find one so I figured that perhaps I’m the one to do this. I read through the series in it’s original language and started taking notes on anything I could find that I could relate to economics. I made put all the references in a spreadsheet which right now have over 300 references. I started writing a couple of texts as well, some of them I have published here on the blog. For example on how both wizards and muggles could gain from trading with each other and what magic really is from an economic perspective.
I also have a hundred notes in my phone of potential themes, things like analysing the rise of Voldemort and the terrorist organization he founded called the death eaters from a public choice/political economy perspective, looking at the effect of teleportation on the real estate market based on research in the field of urban economics and how a beauty potion would disrupt society based on findings in research on the economics of beauty. In other words, this is not a project I’m done with yet.
In 2015, I started making short youtube videos of myself, sort of like a diary in video format. In that year I made approximately 130 vlogs à 10 to 15 minutes each (so basically one every third day). The idea of doing this came one day when I was thinking about how the human mind changes over time and how I wished I could look back maybe three, five or ten years and ask my younger self what was going on in my life, what society was like and what things I pondered over.
I had a number of reasons for this project. I wanted to get more comfortable recording myself, I wanted to get better at delivering improvised monologues and I wanted to try it as a tool for learning as well. None of the videos are public, they are completely private. That was my intention from the beginning, starting every video by greeting my future self with ”Hey John!”. I talked about a very diverse range of issues, from things I was studying to what was talked about in the newsat the time. The titles of the first five videos I made are, in reverse chronological order: ”14 jan, conservatism”, ”13 jan, the cold war”, ”12 jan, #jesuischarlie”, ”9 jan, my project of 2015: video diary” and the second one which was about the previous year’s project: ”9 jan, my project of 2014: news in maps”.
2014 was the year of maps for me. I was a huge news-junky around this time. I consumed a lot of news, often in audio. One time after listening to the news, I put down my headphones and tried to recap what I’ve just heard. I realized that it didn’t go very well. In addition, the places that were talked about, I didn’t have a good sense of where they were geographically. So I bought a binder, printed out 60 world maps that only had the contours of the continents outlined, and then I started to make weekly maps where I wrote down short summaries of what was in the news that week for different regions. In the end I didn’t finish all weeks, but I think that from doing this I got some sense of what kind of things are reported on in different regions of the world.
I didn’t intend to try and write my whole life’s story here. But I know too well that memories fade and I that I might enjoy reading this in ten years time and remember some of the things I did when I was in my early 20’s. Life gets better for every year, and I’m super excited for what’s to come.