Complete 2019 Roundup

This has been a year of significant changes here at ribbonfarm, much of it deliberately conceived as part of a cunning grand plan, and executed flawlessly via my mediocre stroke-of-genius invention, the blogchain (an indefinitely extended, unplanned, improvised, series format). The pivot came with a new tagline: constructions in magical thinking, and a peppy new masthead. With this, we embark on the as-yet-unnamed 3rd era of Ribbonfarm (the first era, 2007-12, was the Rust Age, and the second era, 2013-18, was the Snowflake Age; new readers may want to get oriented on this page).

On to the roundup, 2019 highlights commentary, and 2020 outlook.

We had 9 feature articles in the classic stand-alone longform style, and 74 posts in the new blogchain style (which vary in length from 300 to 3000 words), spread across 9 blogchains. Unbundling and rebundling FTW.

Classic Longform Features

  1. Markets Are Eating The World by Taylor Pearson
  2. Mediating Consent by Renee DiResta
  3. What If We Already Know How to Live? by Oshan Jarrow
  4. Mazes as Mirrors of Creation by Dan Schmidt
  5. Pleasure as an Organizing Principle by Tiago Forte
  6. Meaning as Ambiguity by Sarah Perry
  7. Remembering Pierre Kabamba by Venkatesh Rao
  8. Stack Luck by Venkatesh Rao
  9. The Age of Diffraction by Venkatesh Rao

Blogchains

  1. Worlding Raga by Venkatesh Rao and Ian Cheng (7 parts)
  2. Predictable Identities by Jacob Falkovich (23 parts)
  3. Domestic Cozy by Venkatesh Rao (10 parts)
  4. Weirding Diary by Venkatesh Rao (10 parts)
  5. Elderblog Sutra by Venkatesh Rao (10 parts)
  6. Mediocratopia by Venkatesh Rao (9 parts)
  7. Regenerations by Venkatesh Rao (1 part)
  8. Multitemporality: 1 by Venkatesh Rao (1 part)
  9. Infinite Machines by James Vanié (3 parts)

2019 Highlights

A special thanks to Jacob Falkovich and Ian Cheng for joining me on the blogchaining adventures here. Elsewhere on the web, Warren Ellis and Tom Critchlow have been experimenting with the format too. There might be others, I haven’t been keeping track.

Also a special thanks to Sarah Perry, who stepped back from her contributing editor role this year, after nearly 5 years of regular contributions (she will remain an editor-at-large and contribute the occasional post in the future). Some of her dedicated fans are busy putting a collection of her writings together.

We also had the best Refactor Camp yet this year, thanks in large part to Darren Kong, on the theme of “Escaping Reality.” It was the 7th installment since the event began in 2012. You can catch up on the talks in this special blogchain. All but one have been published (Sarah Perry’s keynote hit some video production snafus, but we’ll get it edited and uploaded asap).

This was probably also the last Refactor Camp unless a younger and more energetic set wants to take over the event properly, cut the umbilical cord to ribbonfarm, and blow it up and re-imagine it. I’d be especially supportive of an online-first virtual format if anyone wants to take it in that direction. Inquire within for necessary and sufficient conditions for me to hand over the reins and assets (like domain names) as opposed to just archiving them.

As I said in my closing remarks (and some were upset by this), this year’s event was probably as good as it gets in the current format, and I’m not interested in driving it past that into a tired stagnation phase. I’m also personally a bit exhausted by the IRL-community side of activities around ribbonfarm, and have decided to personally retire from it. I will continue to occasionally participate in things others might want to organize, but I won’t personally be taking on any more organization legwork, be it for a small meetup or a larger conference thing. It’s time to let the Millennials take over the new media institution building grind.

In more personal news, I started a new subscription email newsletter on substack, The Art of Gig, moved from Seattle to Los Angeles to take up a year-long fellowship at the Berggruen Institute, and began serious work on a second book. I also did a soft pivot of my Breaking Smart project into a podcast porting it to substack in the process.

So a year of shake-ups all around. I definitely feel rattled around.

2020 Outlook

Things are still in flux. I’ll be done with my fellowship in May, and plans beyond that are seriously up in the air, including figuring out where to live next. I’m in a somewhat ornery blow-shit-up mood, and inclined to try more weird experiments, both with my writing and with my consulting work.

Maybe it’s my nagging cold talking 🤧or maybe it’s the turn of the decade or maybe it’s turning 45 and unambiguously middle-aged. Or maybe it’s just the Great Weirding continuing to mess with my head.

Whatever it is, we’ll see where this ornery mood and weird energy takes me.

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About Venkatesh Rao

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

Comments

  1. What defines the Snowflake age?

  2. “… my mediocre stroke-of-genius invention, the blogchain …”

    When I search for “blogchain” the great Google wants me to reconsider my spelling but when I resist it yields a buzzwordy article from 2018 which promises “disruptive publishing on the blockchain using smart contracts”. I wish the authors good luck with their particular blogchain and hope their university network wasn’t disrupted by a ransomware attack.

    A happy new Aeon ! May your diffracted self occasionally collapse into a long form ( I hope that’s not too offensive – who likes to collapse? – but we have to unlearn old customs in weird world ).

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