Complete 2008 Roundup

This entry is part 2 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

I wrote 80 articles in 2008, and this post contains an annotated list of links to all of them. still doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up. Here is a picture of how my focus has shifted, drifted and meandered since I started in July 2007 (here’s the 2007 omnibus review). Red arrows point to the blog’s ‘soul’ at various points. Yellow ‘scope’ wedges show the changing ADD levels. Since I am very lazy about doing roundups (this is the first in 6 months), this should be a useful post for many of you, since Feedburner tells me I went from 50 subscribers to 275 in 2008, with nearly half of the growth coming in the last 3 months. The 2008 Roundup

  1. How to Make New Year’s Calibrations: One of those serendipitous posts that just pops into my head from time to time, nearly fully formed. You know even before you write the first word that the piece is going to be popular. It was.
  2. Serious Games for Serious Business (Guest Post): A guest post by Australian business consultant Marigo Raftapoulos.
  3. Brain Rules by John Medina: A book I declared to be the second best pop-neuroscience book after Oliver Sack’s The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
  4. Future-of-Work Mini-X-Prizes at piece promoting the launch beta contest of by by my friends at WilsonCoLab
  5. The Ideology of the Organization Man: Part II of the Organization Man series
  6. The Organization Man by William Whyte: Introduction: Part I of a labor of love post series (est. VIII parts by March 2009). I don’t know how many people will actually read this extended and detailed multi-part deconstruction/reconstruction of Whyte’s classic, but I have to write it, if only for my own enlightenment.
  7. Spanning Silos by David Aaker: The dark horse among the business books I read this year, and a surprise contender for ‘ribbonfarm best book of the year.’ All about how business strategy can be influenced by CMOs, though a strategy of integrating center and periphery.
  8. Is There a Cloudworker Culture?: Most recent piece in the cloudworker series, getting at some tough questions, with my best postmodern guns firing. I am proud of the piece of photoshop mashup art I did for this piece, based on Giacometti’s Chariot.
  9. The Cloud President, Obama: One of the topical/current pieces I don’t regret. An examination of how presidential policy has affected technology trends since WWII and how Obama might fit.
  10. The Corporate College and Other Election 3.0 Ideas: I rarely react to the news, and nearly always regret it when I do. This one was written at the height of election fever, when it was basically impossible to blog about anything else.
  11. My First Book, A Board Game and ‘Cloudworker’ on the NYT: Self-puffery. Also a stealth announcement of my first book project.
  12. Vote for ‘Cloudworker’ Among Plantronics Contest Finalists!: Content-free puff-piece for myself. Sometimes you gotta milk the equity of original content for some personal gain :)
  13. Cloudworker Economics: Part 2 in the Cloudworker series, examining the economic underpinning of various models of non-traditional employment that are emerging, and how cloudworking fits in the landscape.
  14. The Cloudworker’s Creed: The most impactful piece of the year, in substantive terms, since it helped me win the Plantronics ‘Telewho’ prize worth $2000, and inspired the founding of
  15. Mastering the Hype Cycle by Fenn and Raskino: Review of the book length treatment of Gartner hype cycles by the inventors of the instrument. Verdict: worth the read.
  16. The Headcount Myth and the Value of Overbooking: Another of my pieces aimed squarely at line managers and the front-line management problem of resource allocation. Read alongside the impossibility triangle piece (#26) and the Theory X/Y/Z piece (#37)
  17. The 10 Immutable Laws of Nanoeconomics: An attempt to frame and scope a subdiscipline of economics that is more fine-grained than macro and micro.
  18. A Generational War (Guest Post on Enterprise 2.0 Blog): Far and away the most contentious/viral piece of the year, my opening piece on the E2.0 blog got dozens of blog reactions ranging from adulatory to angry. I kinda think of ribbonfarm as more of a private writing laboratory, so I did this sort of deliberately. I wouldn’t post flame bait here, but my guest gig venues obviously appreciate traffic and discussion.
  19. Crowdsourcing and The Wisdom of the Crowds: A two-for-one book review. Through the year, I found myself doing more and more of these, not just to save myself time with the increasing volume of book reviews, but because reviewing related books together provides nice context.
  20. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely: A guest book review by my colleague at work, George Gibson.
  21. How to Measure Information Work: Picking up again on the theme of information overload, this post is about how you can measure what you do. Was republished in
  22. Organizing to Disrupt: Probably my best piece of the year on big-picture, C-suite-level business strategy. Synthesizes concepts ranging from six-sigma to GTD to market positioning and Brand 2.0, under the overarching umbrella of Christenson’s notion of disruption.
  23. Maslow for Market Segmentation: Can you segment the world’s market of goods and services according to what needs on the Maslow hierarchy they satisfy? Yes! Is it useful to do so? No clue.
  24. The Bloody-Minded Pleasures of Engineering: A tip-of-the-hat to Samuel Florman’s The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, comprising my own meandering thoughts on what it means to be an engineer. Sparked some interesting conversation.
  25. How We Fly: Aircraft as Career Metaphors: Another visual post, helps you figure out whether you are a fighter, bomber or helicopter. Fun; try it out. Especially if you are an airplane afficionado.
  26. The Impossibility Triangle in Talent Management: a post aimed squarely at managers and the tradeoffs they must make among playing to reports’ strengths, project needs and delivering on time.
  27. Some Pointers to Thinking Styles: While I haven’t yet achieved levels of visual brevity, this qualifies as my most spartan visual post of the year, done entirely using arrow icons
  28. The Future of the Internet according to Jonathan Zittrain: the most intellectually demanding business book book I read in 2008
  29. The Next Level of the Game: the lack of popularity of this post surprised me. It was about gaming metaphors for business, and was very visual, but probably too personal/idiosyncratic a view to be fun for others.
  30. Acceleration as Strategy, Urgency as Doctrine: without a doubt, my own favorite business post of the year.
  31. Towards a Philosophy of Destruction: Following up on my creative destruction post, this took a discursive look at destruction, all by itself.
  32. Peter Cappelli’s “Talent On Demand”: Probably the book I most enjoyed reading in 2008
  33. Work-Life Chemistry and How to Measure It: Personally, this post represents to me a sort of capstone to my work-life pieces, but was not as popular as the others, possibly because it was more complex and wordy than the others.
  34. Dipity, Or, How to View Time, 2.0: One of my rare ‘responding to the news’ pieces, on the timeline visualization startup,
  35. Happy First Birthday, Ribbonfarm: Some discursive statistical and narrative exploration of the first year of existence of this blog (which was started on July 4, 2007).
  36. From Bubbles to Cloud: The Evolution of Enterprise 2.0: Possibly the most viral of the picture-memes I drew in the year.
  37. Theory W, Theory X and Theory Y: I think this piece got me a lot of new readers in HR departments. It anchors my pieces on talent management for the year.
  38. The Three-Leaps-of-Faith Rule: An article I wrote for the ABDSG, (the ‘All But Dissertation Survival Guide’, a newsletter for PhD candidates who find it tough to finish). Probably the piece where I go most into ‘self-improvement guru’ mode.
  39. A review of Groundswell, verdict: pretty good
  40. A guest post on the nature of genius by creativity consultant Michael Michalko
  41. Continuing my series on work-life balance/blending, a piece on context switching
  42. Some dangerous work-life blending in this post, advertising some jobs I am helping recruit for, at Xerox
  43. Exploring the idea of innovation by people outside the formal institutions of innovation.
  44. A somewhat clumsy piece, I admit, but a good first stab at a pet passion of mine: thinking about information with the metaphor of food.
  45. A pure-graphic-post,The Evolution of Work-Life on work-life issues. Very yin-yangish. Literally.
  46. A review of Megacommunities, one of the few super-positive book reviews on ribbonfarm.
  47. A review of Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” which is an awesome treatment of self-sabotaging behaviors on the career fast-track.
  48. A look at Amy Lin’s wonderful dot art, and the trains of thought it sparked for me.
  49. A review of Tom Hayes’ “Jump Point” – a cheerfully chaotic, yet effective overview of emerging technologies
  50. Three installments of my short-lived experiments with a comic panel gag on ribbonfarm, titled Sage of Ribbonfarm. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep it up, unless you guys can find help me find a volunteer artist. Panels One, Two and Three.
  51. An extended riff on Freaknomics segues into musings about the economist Ronald Coase and the future of the firm, in this discursive piece.
  52. A mega-overview and visualization of all the literature on social media and 2.0 technology, A Map of the World 2.0 canon.
  53. Probably incomprehensible to non-Indians, a little essay about three games popular in India, and what they reveal about Indian culture and the Indian psyche.
  54. The coming triumph of the strengths movement, a look at Strengths psychology from Gallup and elsewhere.
  55. Continuing my longest-running series on virtual geography and the sociology of ’social media,’ a piece on Richard Florida’s work on creative capital, in The New Location, Location, Location.
  56. Another short-lived experiment, rather like the comic. — a business case study. I thought you guys would enjoy mini-case studies, a la Harvard Business Review. Apparently not; or my story-telling sucks. Oh well, live and learn.
  57. A review of Generation Blend, by Rob Salkowitz, about how to manage the coming decade of four generations in the workplace at once. Great read, especially for those unfamiliar with the Great Demographic Debates of America.
  58. The review of Nick Carr’s The Big Switch in the last roundup window is followed up by a brief note on a Slate article about the same topic (i.e. Matrix like technologies).
  59. A quick note on Inventoritis, with particular emphasis on the Grabowski Ratio, a clever way of looking at innovations and their probability of being successful.
  60. Quickie on the NAE Grand Challenges of engineering.
  61. A piece on the history of 20th century technology, The Founding Fathers of Technology.
  62. And finally, a review of Johnny Bunko, the bestselling Manga style comic book career guide from Dan Pink.
  63. Bargaining with your Right Brain: an attempt at an unorthodox look at bargaining as collaborative-adversarial storytelling.
  64. On Japan as a Robot-Loving Nation: one of the shorter posts on ribbonfarm, with some interesting ideas in the comments.
  65. Trollope, Fitzgerald and Holmes for the Generalist’s Soul: or perhaps we should call it “Chicken soup for the Renaissance Man’s (Person’s?) Soul.”
  66. The UnAha! Experience: some reflections on mathematical counter-examples and how gut insticts and Aha! certainties can be wrong.
  67. The Varieties of Innovation Experience: when you have no clue how to build a conceptual model of a domain — in this case the personalities of researchers — start with an arbitrary taxonomy. Hey, there were other stabs at the periodic table before Mendeleev came along with the definitive one!
  68. Ambient Presence and Virtual Social Capital: continuing the series of articles on virtual geography, the 50-foot rule and related stuff.
  69. The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr : a review of a pretty important new book, the first popular treatment of the idea that technology is going wholesale into a utility model
  70. The Blue Tunnel: the second Ribbonfarm experiment in the graphic novel form, this time more like a picture-book story in the Dr. Seuss “Oh the places you will go” vein.
  71. Entrepreneurship, Intrapreneurship, and Cross-preneurship: an exploration of *preneurial behaviors that cross domains.
  72. A Map of Communication: Yet another visual-heavy post, this time around a whimsical (okay, half-serious) map of an imagined continent of communication.
  73. Book Review and Summary: Strategic Intuition: a look at a nice complement to Gladwell’s Blink.
  74. Creative Destruction: Portrait of an Idea: we take a look at the concepts and history of the notion of creative destruction, from ancient times to Schumpeter.
  75. How the Internet is Really Evolving: an examination of the language we use to describe the evolution of the Internet, and the underlying mental models and metaphors.
  76. The Broken Brain Books: a meta-review of recent literature that applies cognitive science ideas in novel ways to produce a new generation of self-improvement and popular science books
  77. How to Pick Business and Self-Improvement Books: since ribbonfarm carries so many book reviews, a meta-look at the process is in order.
  78. Mousetrap 2.0: A Comicbook: the first serious Ribbonfarm stab at studying business and innovation through the graphic novel form.
  79. Coarse Actions, Fine Actions: One of those pieces which I occasionally write which nobody seems to get, but I still have to write, to get an idea out of my system.
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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter