Reflecting on the First Year of this Blog

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

This blog recently passed the one year mark. Two co-workers inspired me to start writing it while we were having lunch and discussing the upcoming election in 2012.  I discovered that these highly intelligent people described themselves as relatively low information voters. Why? They told me that they vote on “impressions” and that they don’t have time to do all the research to make informed opinions. Besides, even if they did have the time, who would they believe?  Who would they trust? I’d been researching the issues we were discussing and shared some of the things I had learned. Then one of them said something like “you and I don’t agree on everything, but I know you, I’ve seen you at work, and I value your opinion. Even if I disagreed with you, at least reading your research would give me a place to start because I know you.” After lunch, I sent these guys an email copy of my private blog, the place where I kept my personal notes at the time. The value to them was not only the content, but also the knowledge that the material was filtered and organized from a reliable source.

So, this blog was an experiment. In the past year I published 20 posts, and the core topics were technology, economics, scouting, and education (with a bit of politics mixed in). Here are the two top posts based on the number of times readers shared them:

My intent this past year was primarily to clean up research that I was doing anyway, and post it for public consumption. This year, I want to create a larger variety of posts. In addition to the “Commentary” category (essays), here are new categories:

  • The “Digest” category: posts that summarize work from other authors about selected topics, especially to follow-up on previous essays. My first experiment with this format is, “The Face of Changing Times.”
  • The “Controversy” category: posts that give two sides of a heated story. My first experiment with this format is, “The 23andMe Controversy.”
  • The “Republish” category: posts that repeat content from another author. My first experiments with this format were, “Krugman: The Case for Techno-optimism” and  “Thanksgiving.”

I’ve changed my earlier policy of publishing only on the weekend; instead, I will publish ad hoc in the future. Essays will post when they are ready, but I’ll have content from the new categories in-between. You’ll notice that I’ve updated the theme, adding a cover photo (from Scotland), search, categories, and twitter. I’m also experimenting with pictures and videos, and I reorganized the “Online Community” and “References” pages. The criteria I established recommending people in “Building this Blog” still holds, though I’ve found that it is not always easy to decide if a site lives up to these standards. Nevertheless, I’ll continue to populate these pages.

If you’re looking for me to shock you, this is the wrong blog. I don’t like labels, such as liberal and conservative. For example, the Affordable Care Act is a “conservative policy,” enacted by “liberals,” and opposed by the “conservatives” that invented it in the first place. Confusing, huh? I don’t like ad hominem arguments and over generalizations. Let me be tongue in cheek for a moment. I’ll generally avoid writing about “evil corporations” (so said the activist checking her iPhone before ordering a latte) or “godless liberals” (so said the commentator trying to get people’s blood to boil). I will, however, write about underlying issues, and I’ll support policies to return us to a just society, with a thriving middle class. That said, I’m not going to demonize part of our society in the process. Also, I’m a skeptic, so don’t expect me to endorse conspiracy theories. Here is what I will do: I will write, as best that I can, in a non-partisan way. This does not mean that I won’t have opinions, it just means that I will try to let reason, compassion, and the facts guide me.

Where is this blog going? This is not a “news” or “political” blog. These elements are part of what I’ll write about, but other blogs focus on these topics, and already do a great job. I prefer to write about trends, past and future, and discuss how they influence our lives. I’ll continue writing about science and technology (robots, automation, genetics, information technology, etc.), the economy (poverty, jobs, unemployment), and education (cost, access, online options), but I’ll introduce more topics as well, such as privacy, online security, and social media.

I’m interested in what the future will look like. I want to figure out how we will emerge from the present day dark ages, and begin a new enlightenment period. My theme for this blog is still emerging, but I know that it will involve finding new alternatives to complex problems, and exploring trends that will shape the future.


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