Bryan Caplan  

www.bcaplan.com 2.0

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My website was very cool back when it launched in 1994.  But during the intervening 17 years, fashions have changed.  Perhaps there's even been some unmeasured progress.  So by popular demand http://www.bcaplan.com (mirror site at http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan) has been completely updated, thanks to my RA, Zac Gochenour. 

One big feature: Almost all my articles are now available as pdfs, and I'll be filling in the lacunae in coming weeks.

Your corrections and comments are very welcome. 

P.S. And if you can't live without the 1994 version, never fear; it's still available.

Update: Don't miss the wisdom of Gabriel Rossman in the comments:
[C]omparing the 1994 and 2011 versions is the most visceral illustration i've seen yet of how we fail to adequately count quality improvements.

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COMMENTS (15 to date)
Roman Lombardi writes:

I like the 1994 version best

Student writes:

The 1994 site is so bad it is good. I'm glad you left a version up.

Though honestly. Up until like 5 or 6 years ago I would say your webpage was prob the best of any academic economist (by that point gen-y started hitting the job market), so I wouldn't feel too much out of fashion.

gabriel rossman writes:

comparing the 1994 and 2011 versions is the most visceral illustration i've seen yet of how we fail to adequately count quality improvements.

Mina writes:

I took a screenshot of your website like a year ago in anticipation that it would be changed eventually. It's soo straight outta the geocities era, heh.

Andy Hallman writes:

Hi Bryan. I just started reading Michael Huemer's essays a week ago and I agree that he's very good. I noticed that his name is misspelt as "Heumer" on your new website on the page "Fun" under the heading "Interesting People."

agnostic writes:

"how we fail to adequately count quality improvements."

Sure but you have to count quality declines as well. An mp3 sounds terribly worse than a cassette played through a boombox with only one speaker. Compared to CD sound, and mp3 is garbage.

Same with voice quality over cell phones vs. plugged-in phones.

Or overall picture quality on LCD vs. CRT television sets, keeping the "hi-def or not" and "flat screen" variables constant. (Yes, there were LCD sets that were not hi-def and CRTs that were.)

Or candy bars that used to have milk chocolate but have replaced it with cheap yucky junk that substitutes vegetable oils for cocoa butter. Not obscure ones either: Milk Duds, Mr. Goodbar, Whatchamacallit, Krackel, and Hershey's Kissables.

Etc etc. When people see new fads, they want to play up only the quality improvements rather than all quality changes regardless of sign.

Scott Wentland writes:

I like the new site and all the pdfs.

The picture is a great too. I'm glad you went with that picture on your book site too...much better suited than the prior, formal academic picture.

James A. Donald writes:

1994 version is much better

Mike writes:

The green color on the web site is hard to read.

Patrick writes:

agnostic has good points. Remember when your TV could change channels instantly? Remember when live TV was really live, not delayed by twenty seconds or so due to encoding, buffering, etc.? Remember when there was real sugar in soft drinks? Remember cell phones which could run for a week on a charge?

I still like my digital TV, smartphone, etc., but many quality improvements are actually part of a tradeoff.

Andy writes:

Sorry, Bryan, but the new version isn't much better.

Andy writes:

The complaints about quality in this thread seem incorrect.

- Many tests have shown that there's no way you can tell the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and a CD. Most people can't even tell the difference between 128kbps MP3s and CDs. Plus there is the option of using lossless codecs like FLAC if you really want the exact same sound. Landline phone voice quality is pretty terrible. Better quality is available using VOIP but for some reason no one seems to want to use it.
- You can easily buy cell phones with really long battery life that are still better than phones from 10 years ago. Just no one prefers that tradeoff. For example you can get phones with 12+ hours of talk time and 20+ days of standy. That's much better than anything available before.
- Many soft drinks still use cane sugar. It's easy to buy only those if you can tell the difference, although most people probably couldn't in a blind test.
- Picture quality of LCDs vs. CRTs is always hotly debated. CRTs may be better in some ways, such as color range, and worse in others, such as sharpness.
- Live TV can be delayed by a few seconds but I'm not sure why you would care... ?

Zac Gochenour writes:

Andy, care to share with us your specific complaints about the new site? FWIW I'm not offended; I simply mimicked current fashions, this is not professional avant garde design.

Thanks to those who have provided helpful comments and for all the compliments. I hope someday we can update attractions like the Museum of Communist Holocausts.

I, too, had a website in 1994. It was much, much worse looking than Bryan's, but it did have a lot of information about Magic: The Gathering and Final Fantasy, badly written fantasy fiction, and a ton of blinking text and animated gifs of my own creation.

Ricardo Cruz writes:

Zac, I think people just felt some early Internet nostalgia towards the old style. But your layout is clearly much nicer on the eye. ;-)

I would just ask you to put some of Bryan's writings in a more prominent location. I mean, I had a hard time finding Bryan's terrific essay on "The Anarcho-Statist of Spain".

Specifically, I would suggest you do two things:

1. put image-links to the Communist Museum & a couple of others side-by-side with the links to his books. (just have a table on the bottom for those.)

2. use bold fonts for the links to the more famous of Bryan's writings over the "Fun" and "Early Writing" section. Maybe place an image next to those too. Some of those really deserve to stand-out (as they did in the previous website).

Thanks for all the hard work!

Otherguy writes:

Where are the civ2 scenarios? They're missing.
http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/civ2.htm

btw, Bryan have you played any of the other civ games? I'd be interested in hearing your opinion of the relatively recent civ5.

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