Freakonomics – Loved It!

Another book I finished reading recently was Freakonomics, A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. For anyone who loves pushing away the spoon (from spoon feeding attempts or you’re pro-Critical Thinking, whatever term you wish), this book was written just for us! But there is great brain food offered for webmasters too if you wish to apply the info to your online world.

Data. Stats. Demographics. Numbers. All these things can be massaged into giving you clues or answers to questions you have.

Some chapters:

The Klu Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents
What Makes A Perfect Parent?
Drug Dealers Living With Their Moms
Where Have All The Criminals Gone? (Suggests Roe vs. Wade and legalized abortion is the answer)

Freakonomics – page 11

Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work–whereas economics represents how it actually does work. Economics is above all a science of measurement. It comprises an extraordinarily powerful and flexible set of tools that can reliably assess a thicket of information to determine the effect of any one factor, or even the whole effect. That’s what “the economy” is, after all: a thicket of information about jobs and real estate and banking and investment. But the tools of economics can be just as easily applied to subjects that are more–well, more interesting.

Ultimately, the message of the book is this:

Economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing […and…] An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.

A book on economics? B-oring? Not at all, it is so interesting and I found myself zipping through the book–captivated to the core.

How on earth can this be a worthwhile read for a webmaster? Well understanding incentives and how people react to them (in a way you hope or in the opposite direction), and why they react the way they do–that can be pretty mighty information.

At the very least you’ll probably never look at data and stats the same way again. You can check out the blog here: Freakonomics – Blog

BTW, Here’s a hint if you find yourself at a creative standstill…I was struggling for quite awhile a few months ago. Not feeling very inspired, creatively starving, not finding much information that satisfied me or filling that hole that wants real, workable, knock your socks off knowledge. I dropped from approximately 400 blogs I was subscribed to down to 78 (and that includes a good number of blogs I’m tracking for research/clues) then dove into my pile of books waiting to be read.

I’m on fire again ;).

And another hint: Read enough of the right books and you’ll see where some of the pro and maybe not so pro bloggers and big boy gurus are ripping their content ideas from–without book mentions, those sonofaguns lol. But hey, if you’re looking for content ideas, pick up a book and see what happens.


I've been trying to find my way online for more years than I care to admit.

5 thoughts to “Freakonomics – Loved It!”

  1. Yes, I loved this book too!

    I recommend this book to lots of people I chat to, although I nearly offended my overweight teacher friend when I suggested she’d enjoy the chapter on “what school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common”.

  2. Loved both of those books. I didn’t read Freakonomics from the standpoint of a webmaster, but it’s a good idea! I should go back and look through it.

    I loved the Money for Content. Gave me a lot to think about. Glad you are feeling inspired again!

  3. I haven’t read the Money for Content book, but I read, read, and re-read Freakonomics! Loved it!

    Down at the retail consumer level, I also enjoyed Paco Underhill’s books. He’s got over 20 years experience in collecting data (unbelievably massive amounts of data) about how people shop. Most of his observations have to do with offline, “real world” shopping, but many of them can be applied to online shopping as well.

    But even if the webmaster in you doesn’t pick up any new tricks, the shopper in you will see the art and science of retailing in a whole new way.

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