Complete 2017 Roundup

This entry is part 11 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

It’s been a disorienting pivot year of mayhem and chaos here at ribbonfarm. I am going to pretend it was entirely by design. I decided at the beginning of the year that since I was personally feeling rather annoyed and upset by all the disturbances in the Force, I ought to spread the cognitive pain around. If I can’t enjoy a pleasant, harmonious life of the mind, why the hell should you? We practice grievance-driven blogging around here. “With malice towards one and all” as my old writing idol Khushwant Singh used to put it.

And since we observed (“celebrated” seems like a stretch) our 10th anniversary this year, it was high time anyway to blow things up and put the pieces back together in a new way. Mission 50% accomplished. We’ll get to the “put together again” next year.

Main symptom of the blowing-up: After years of cautious growth in number of contributors, we had a whopping jump: 32 contributors bringing in 62 posts (not counting administrative ones), with traffic holding miraculously roughly steady. By comparison, in 2016, we only had 13 contributors for 57 posts. Much of the increase was due to the spectacular output (in terms of both quality and quantity) from the longform writing course Sarah and I taught twice in the last 12 months. That course may or may not have benefitted participants, but it sure helped stir things up for us.

One effect of this step-function increase in the number of contributors is that I have effectively lost the editorial plot. In a good way though. To create a new order, you first have to create chaos.

Read on for a tour of the debris and a big list of the 62 posts.

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Complete 2018 Roundup

This entry is part 12 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

Well, that was a slow slog of a year. I personally felt like Spider-Man in the 3rd Toby Maguire movie, where he inexplicably briefly loses his powers. Surprisingly though, I did end up writing more posts than in 2017 (18 versus 13, even though 5 were… uhh… not quite longform). It was like pulling teeth, but I appear to be gathering momentum again.

Let’s do the roundup first, and then some commentary.

Editor-At-Large Posts

  1. Justifiable AI by Carlos Bueno
  2. Tarpits and Antiflocks by Carlos Bueno
  3. Glitches, uh, find a way by Carlos Bueno
  4. The Digital Maginot Line by Renee DiResta

Sarah Perry posts

  1. Luxuriating in Privacy by Sarah Perry
  2. Light of the American Whale by Sarah Perry
  3. The Well-Being Machine by Sarah Perry
  4. Treasure Hunting by Sarah Perry
  5. Cringe and the Design of Sacred Experiences by Sarah Perry
  6. Notes on Doing Things by Sarah Perry
  7. Hedonic Audit by Sarah Perry
  8. Social Media Consciousness by Sarah Perry
  9. Boilerplate by Sarah Perry
  10. Justice Fantasies by Sarah Perry
  11. “Something Runs Through The Whole Thread” by Sarah Perry
  12. Deep Laziness by Sarah Perry

Venkatesh Rao posts

  1. Think Entangled, Act Spooky by Venkatesh Rao
  2. Unflattening Hobbes by Venkatesh Rao
  3. The Speakeasy Imagineering Network by Venkatesh Rao
  4. Dodo Thoughts by Venkatesh Rao
  5. May You Live in Epic Times by Venkatesh Rao
  6. The Age of Early Divinity by Venkatesh Rao
  7. Why We Slouch by Venkatesh Rao
  8. How Do You Value a Human Being? by Venkatesh Rao
  9. Flying Blind into the Anthropocene by Venkatesh Rao
  10. Survival of the Mediocre Mediocre by Venkatesh Rao
  11. Boat Stories by Venkatesh Rao
  12. The Key to Act Two by Venkatesh Rao
  13. A Quick (Battle) Field Guide to the New Culture Wars by Venkatesh Rao
  14. Make Your Own Rules by Venkatesh Rao
  15. Reality Maintenance by Venkatesh Rao
  16. Chekov’s Gun and the Principle of Sufficient Reason by Venkatesh Rao
  17. Quiver Doodles by Venkatesh Rao
  18. Armpit Futures by Venkatesh Rao

Guest Posts

  1. Near-Deathness by Matthew Sweet
  2. The Unapologetic Case For Bullshit by Stefano Zorzi
  3. (Don’t) Be the Gray man by Patrick Steadman
  4. Symmetry and Identity by Kenneth Shinozuka

Community Stuff

  1. Into the Fediverse by Venkatesh Rao
  2. Refactor Camp 2018: Cryptoeconomics and Blockchain Weirding Post-Mortem by Taylor Pearson
  3. Refactor Camp 2018: Cryptoeconomics and Blockchain Weirding by Taylor Pearson
  4. Refactor Camp: Cryptoeconomics and Blockchain Weirding Summary and Wrap Up by Joseph Kelly
  5. The Art of Longform by Venkatesh Rao
  6. 2018 Annual Letter by Venkatesh Rao

Refactorings Roundups

  1. Refactorings Roundup 09/16/18 — 10/06/18 by Editor
  2. Refactorings Roundup 11/13/18 – 12/08/18 by Editor
  3. Feed Fox Links: 8/12/18 — 8/18/18 by Editor
  4. Refactorings Roundup 08/26/2018 09/1/2018 by Editor
  5. Refactorings Roundup 10/07/18 — 11/12/18 by Editor
  6. Refactorings Roundup 09/02/2018 — 09/15/18 by Editor
  7. Refactorings Roundup 08/19/2018 – 8/25/2018 by Editor

Here are the 2017, 2016, 20152014 and 2013 roundups.New readers, here is the new readers start page. If you want to do some binge reading further back into the archives, there is a page for the Rust Age (2007-12) with both curated selections and complete roundups for 2007-12, as well as Kindle ebook collections.

After the monster 62-post year that was 2017 (thanks to the big bump created by guest contributions from people who took the longform writing course, which is now available in recorded form) this was a bit of a home-game year. Not counting administrative/community posts, we only had 38 proper posts: 18 by me, 12 by Sarah Perry, 4 by guests, 3 by Carlos Bueno, and 1 by Renee DiResta.

On the community front though, we probably had the best Refactor Camp ever  this year in Austin. There was also a healthy flow of meetups in the Bay Area, New York, Austin, London, LA, and Seattle.

The 2019 Refactor Camp will in be Los Angeles, probably on the weekend of June 7/8. Mark your calendars. Details in a month or so.

We also spun un a Mastodon server, and (open registration) has now been humming along quietly for 6 months. That has been the source of the irregular Refactorings Roundups posts (scroll up for back issues) with links to things people are reading and writing.

Interesting changes have gotten underway in the subterranean foundations of ribbonfarm, where our pet Cthulhu lives, so expect to see those bubble up to the surface next year.

Happy Holidays!

Complete 2019 Roundup

This entry is part 13 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

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.

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2020 Ribbonfarm Extended Universe Annual Roundup

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

This has undoubtedly been the weirdest year in the 13-year history of Ribbonfarm, and one that marks a pretty decisive break from the past, both in terms of my own writing here, and the kinds of contributions I’m increasingly interested in sourcing/commissioning from others (if you’re interested in submitting stuff here in 2021, scroll to the end of this post to see what I’m looking for).

This was also the year the shape of the messy rhizome that is the Ribbonfarm Extended Universe finally became somewhat clear. So starting this year, I’m going to cover of all my projects in these roundups, since this blog is sort of the soul of the larger beast. The Ribbonfarm Extended Universe currently looks like this:

Within this anarchic mess, it is clear that Ribbonfarm is something like an R&D lab, where I direct both my own experimental tinkering energies, and invite others to experiment. It’s a textual maker-space of sorts. When writing ideas/efforts mature past a point, they tend to go elsewhere. This is one reason themes that used to be the mainstay here have gradually migrated to my more polished (which isn’t saying much) downstream projects like Breaking Smart and Art of Gig.

There were 53 posts here, and a bunch of activity on Other Projects, so there’s a lot of extended universe to cover. So, on to the roundup.

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2021 Ribbonfarm Extended Universe Annual Roundup

This entry is part 15 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

There is no getting around it: I basically took the year off from this blog, not just in the sense that I wrote much less here than usual (29 posts), but in the sense that all the posts were short ones with self-consciously modest ambitions. In fact, most posts were actively anti-ambitious, since I carefully avoided writing anything with viral potential. The blog basically went underground. For the first time ever, and by design, there was not even a single post that could be called a hit, let alone a viral one.

A big reason was: I had nothing to say in 2021 in blog mode.

And a big reason for that was that the medium of blogging itself is not sure what it wants to say anymore. We are in a liminal passage with blogging, where the medium has no message.

So it’s not just me. It feels like the entire blogosphere (what’s left of it) took the year off to figure out a new identity — if one is even possible — in a world overrun by email newsletters, Twitter threads, weird notebook-gardens on static sites or public notebook apps, and the latest challenger: NFT-fied essays.

All those new media seem to have clear ideas of what they are, or what they want to be when they grow up. But this aging medium doesn’t. And while I have a presence in all those younger media, they don’t yet feel substantial enough to serve as main acts, the way blogging has for so long.

Perhaps there is no main-act medium in the future. Perhaps we are witnessing the birth of a glorious new polycentric media landscape, where the blogosphere will be eaten not by any one successor, but by a collection of media within which blogs will merely be a sort of First Uncle to the rest. The medium through which you say embarrassing things at Thanksgiving, with all the other media cringing. Maybe, just as every unix shell command turned into a unicorn tech company, every kind of once-blog-like content will now be its own medium. Listicles became Twitter, photoblogs became Instagram, and so on.

The entire blogosphere is going through perhaps its most significant existential crisis since the invention of blogging 22 years ago. And I’ve been at this for 15 of those years — this is the 15th annual roundup! Ironically, every couple of years through that period, there has been a round of discussion on “the death of blogging,” but now that it seems to be actually happening, there isn’t an active conversation around it.

If this is the end, it’s a whimper rather than a bang.

One sign it is real is — this is the second roundup I’ve felt compelled to title “extended universe” because my publishing presence is now simply too scattered for the blog alone to represent it.

But I rather hope not. I think there’s a chance it’s going to be a Doctor Who style regeneration instead, and if so, I’m here for it. If blogs must die, so be it. If there’s a fighting chance of a regeneration, the fight will be worthwhile.

On to the roundup, with embarrassing-uncle commentary on the brave new world.

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2022 Ribbonfarm Extended Universe Roundup

This entry is part 16 of 17 in the series Annual Roundups

Somehow, I feel lowkey cheerful looking back at 2022. It feels like I hit an inflection point in the 15-year history of this blog, after 2-3 years of steadily letting go old ways and wandering in the desert. It feels like I am finally developing some interesting momentum in a new Act 2 direction that is a definite break from the past without being a rejection of it. I’m still muddling through, but now it is decisive muddling through. I think I let the somewhat frenzied experimentation of the peak pandemic years (2020-21) quiet down, and got some thorough reflecting, consolidating, and stock-taking done. Introspection that I hope will pay off in the next decade.

On to the extended universe roundup, featuring blog, newsletter, books, and a few more odds and ends. But first, a reintroduction.

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2023 Ribbonfarm Extended Universe Roundup

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

Extended universes are a bit passé now, given how even the MCU appears to be struggling a bit. Still, I like the metaphor and am going to stick with it till I find a better one. The public social web has all but disappeared, like an ancient system of rivers going underground after an earthquake. The old roads are no longer safe, and you get mugged on them, like on the Roman roads in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire (why yes, I did think about the Roman Empire frequently this year, why do you ask?). Prancing Pony vibes. Dark Forest mood.

Much of the social energy of the old internet has now retreated underground to the cozyweb. Except for a few old-fashioned blogs like this one, there’s not much of it left above-ground now. But there’s an odd sort of romance to holding down a public WordPress-based fortress in the grimdark bleakness, even as almost everything (including the bulk of what I do) retreats to various substacks, discords, and such.

On to the roundup, featuring blog, newsletter, books, and a few more odds and ends. But first, to continue a tradition I started last year, a reintroduction.

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