Here we go.
But the apparent steady decline in number of posts is misleading because the average word count, as well as the frequency of ultra-long epic posts, has been increasing. In fact, I set a personal record this year with an 8000+ word epic post (A Brief History of the Corporation). In a way, ribbonfarm is turning into a series of long posts (2500-4000 words, about the length of a New Yorker feature) punctuated by ridiculously long epic-length posts (6000+ words).
Commenting activity has also been steadily increasing, and along with it, my own comment word-count in response. Of the all-time top 10 posts in terms of number of comments, 7 have been from this year. I am actually starting to do some of my best writing in the comments sections of fertile posts rather than in the posts themselves.
I think what’s happening is that hidden themes (illegible even, or perhaps especially, to me) that have been developing for 4 years have started cohering, leading to longer, fewer posts. There is also significantly more coupling among posts now, so the body of writing is getting more integrated, though it will never cohere into something like a book. I have some thoughts on making this spaghetti bowl more navigable that I’ll be trying out next year.
This trend can’t continue indefinitely of course, otherwise I’ll be at an average of 10,000 words and an epic-peak length of 20,000 words by 2015. I am quite curious about when and how the pattern will change. Probably wrapping up the Gervais Principle series early next year, and putting it out in eBook form, will be the cathartic event necessary for me to switch into a new writing gear, with a frequency and length reset. We’ll find out.
There was also a lot of other action in 2011. I put out my first book, Tempo and booted up the associated tempobook blog (which is beginning to acquire a recognizable personality, distinct from ribbonfarm), rebooted my E 2.0 blogging at Information Week, started a new blog on Forbes and continued the Be Slightly Evil newsletter.
In terms of narrative highlights, I got Slashdotted for the third time in my blogging career (for my Forbes post The Rise of Developeronomics). That sort of milestone is always nice.
There was also that major road-trip across the country in the summer (6 weeks, 8000 miles) during which I ended up meeting a lot of you guys in person, in all sorts of unexpected places like Nashville and Omaha.
There was some boundary expansion too. I did non-academic/non-trade speaking gigs for the first time, and pulled together three in-person events (two field trips and an improv session). So I seem to be diversifying cautiously off the blogging base. I suspect this kind of activity will increase in 2012.
Between the road-trip and the in-person events, I think I met something like a hundred regulars in 2011. That’s up from maybe 1-2 in previous years. I quite enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll start keeping count and shoot for 200 in 2012.
And of course, the big event for me personally was jumping ship from a paycheck job to full-time writing and consulting and navigating a tricky course between successful lifestyle retrenching and noble, writer-ly destitution.
So here’s the list, in reverse-chronological order. My personal favorites are starred (*), and crowd-favorites are double-starred (**).
- How the World Works: Part II
- Acting Dead, Trading Up and Leaving the Middle Class**
- How the World Works
- The Towers of Priority
- The Evolution of the American Dream
- Technology and the Baroque Unconscious*
- Ribbonfarm Field Trip #3: Computer History Museum, 11/19/2011
- Three Deep Videos and a Roundup
- The Quest for Immortality (guest post by Greg Linster)
- The Gervais Principle V: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose* (not **, did I jump the shark with GP?)
- The Stream Map of the World**
- Ubiquity Illusions and the Chicken-Egg Problem
- The Milo Criterion**
- Fixing the Game by Roger L. Martin
- The Scientific Sensibility
- The Calculus of Grit**
- The August Reading List Freeze
- On Being an Illegible Person**, *
- Houseboats, Containers, Guns and Garbage: the 2011 Ribbonfarm Field Trip
- Diamonds versus Gold
- The Las Vegas Rules II: Stuff Science
- A Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100**
- The Las Vegas Rules I: The Slightly Malevolent Universe
- Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia (guest post by Stefan King)
- My Experiments with Introductions*
- The Russian Fox and the Evolution of Intelligence (guest post by Brian Potter)
- Extroverts, Introverts, Aspies and Codies**
- Cognitive Archeology of the West (guest post by Paula Hay)
- The Return of the Barbarian**
- Where the Wild Thoughts Are (my “going free agent” post)*
- Waiting versus Idleness*
- The Disruption of Bronze*
- Boundary Condition Thinking*
- The Gollum Effect**
- How Leveraged are Your Resolutions?
Anyway, a “Welcome aboard, Ahoy!” to the new 2011 readers, and a sincere thank-you to long-time readers who decided to keep me company for yet another year. It’s starting to feel a bit surreal, now that I’ve known some of you for nearly 5 years. Maybe I’ll do some sort of 5-year anniversary event in July.
I’ll be off the grid starting Friday, until the new year, so here’s wishing everybody a good break.