This page provides a historical overview of how I built my current diverse network of friends, as seen on places such as social network Facebook, where I have over 1900 friends. More so than the absolute number of friends is the fact that I’ve succeeded in penetrating large numbers of communities and cliques before I got to physically meet any of the people involved.
Currently, the process of forming networks and communities is largely left to chance, and this has been good in that it has led to people forming networks that would have been hard to anticipate. But there are ways to make the process of forming networks more systematic, so as to pluck more of the low-hanging fruit. Many of my most important friendships appear to have been both canonical (in the sense that the person was really a person with unique attributes) and serendipitious (in that there is a good chance I may never have encountered the person). Part of the inspiration for Cognito Mentoring was to take some of the guesswork out of the networking process.
April 2010 – February 2012
As I describe on my graduate experience page, starting April 2010 I became aware of many blogs and websites whose participants (including the writers and commenters) I would later count as my friends. These included LessWrong, EconLog, Cafe Hayek, Marginal Revolution, and EconLog. Yet, for the most part, I did not become friends with the people involved with those sites, with a few minor exceptions.
- I made friends with a number of people whom I hadn’t met in graduate or undergraduate studies but who had come across my writing about my undergraduate experience online. Some of these friendships would deepen over time.
- I joined the GiveWell mailing list and met a few people that way. I friended Jonah Sinick, with whom I would later collaborate on Cognito Mentoring, in November 2011, although we did not interact substantively till November 2012.
- Between May and September 2011, I interacted with a number of people affiliated with seasteading and competitive governance, including Max Marty, Dario Mutabdzija, and Dan Dascalescu. My friendship with Dan in particular would be significant, as Dan helped me transition my websites to a new server.
March 2012 onward
I believe my networking really started taking off in March 2012, shortly after I launched Open Borders: The Case. Prior to that, I hadn’t tried to send friend requests to people I vaguely knew or knew of, nor did I get such requests. But after that site went live, I was identified, within at least a small subset of both the libertarian and the effective altruist communities, with the open borders site. This meant that at least a few people from both communities, including potential collaborators and those who sought to influence me or learn from me, friended me. And once I had a few friends, I had opportunities to meet their friends. And then things just kept snowballing.