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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

State of the Blog

I posted last year's Top Ten yesterday, and today in the aftermath here are a few reflections to start the new year off right.

I posted less to Amor Mundi last year than I have since 2008, for one thing. Since I began the blog nearly a decade ago in the summer of 2004 my writings and my readings had both tended to increase in number every year, but this Fall I stalled out a bit.

Getting jettisoned from our rented bungalow (the owner suddenly decided to sell) after ten years was definitely quite disruptive. And adjunctcy can take a toll, summer teaching at Berkeley felt more exhausting than it usually does last year and then things at the Art Institute seemed especially precarious all year. And, hell, I'm not as young as I used to be, I'll tell you that.

It is striking that yesterday's Top Ten for 2013 actually didn't include the two posts of mine that were read and quoted the most last year, because both were written the year before in fact: The Unbearable Stasis of "Accelerating Change", originally published May 27, 2012 was by far the most popular this year as it also was last year. That piece has had something like ten times more readers than anything else I've ever written, for whatever reason. Also, some quotes from An Open Letter to the Robot Cultists, originally published August 04, 2012, tumbled around tumblr for quite a few weeks and that brought lots of folks back to the original.

It's interesting that anti-futurological posts were not the only ones that made the top ten for the first time since I've been paying attention to such things. Part of the reason I find that interesting is because like so many other people I have felt a distaste closely kin to despair this year since the second inaugural over the political paralysis and dysfunction engineered by Republican obstruction and ugly racism and phony scandal mongering in the face of an ongoing unemployment crisis and abuse of undocumented folks and pointless gun violence and all this has lead me to feel that both the causes and the solutions to our problems are always the same and never happen and it makes things worse to just keep repeating this over and over and over again. All that has been another part of what has made the year feel so exhausting in general. And yet this is the year my annoyingly wandering pedantic exercises in political analysis have reached as many readers as my anti-futurological critiques have done. Weird.

A couple dozen posts from this year were also republished at the World Future Society where, of course, they had a far wider readership than this poor blog can muster -- but this list is confined to their readers here. Also, anthology links, especially the Superlative Summary (which was considerably refurbished in the summer) did a pretty good business this year as usual, but I only listed posts from this year making an actual case of their own. Between a half to a third of Amor Mundi's readers are drawn to pieces anthologized on the sidebar from years past, an interesting abiding of the writing against the grain of instantaneity that is supposed to shape online discourse. I guess the other thing to mention is that blogging and microblogging have shaped one another more than I expected in either direction, but I mean to dwell in that tidal basin a while longer before drawing any conclusions about it.

As I said, next year will be the tenth in the life of Amor Mundi. Apart from teaching and completing my PhD back in 1995 and maintaining my few important personal relationships, this blog has ended up being the thing to which I've probably devoted the most diligent sustained attention to. And with mixed results and who knows what unexpected costs. I certainly didn't expect this to happen when I started this modest out-of-the-way blog and I can't say in retrospect that I think that was necessarily the most sensible place to direct all this energy, but here it is anyway, after all. I don't expect to stop it anytime soon. I'm still a blogger, for better or worse.

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