Category Archives: 2018 Wrapup

Five Years!!

Today marks the beginning of the sixth year of daily blogging here!

(The Internet tells me that the fifth anniversary is “wood”.)

Established in 2011, blogging began n 2012.  On January 5 2014 I began blogging every day.  That first post was a batch of short book reviews, which have continued (now every Sunday).

The overall goal of the project has been to keep writing and reading. I don’t know if my writing has improved, per se, but blogging certainly has made me read many things  and write about what I read, which is surely good for me (if not the world).

Is anybody reading it?  As far as I know, every once in a while, a few people do read it.

I generally avoid click bait and troll fodder, so I don’t get many flames.  (WordPress does a good job of filtering spam, a lot of which comes from idiot robots.)

One possible side effect of blogging has been to accumulate significant masses of notes on various topics, especially cryptocurrency technology and coworking.  The former has never gelled into anything more, the latter was turned into a book.

What next?

For now, the blog will continue daily, book reports on Sunday.  Shall I shoot for ten years?

Stay tuned.

2018 Round Up: Stuff I Published in 2018

It’s one thing to write for your own blog, it’s another thing entirely to get someone else to publish what you write!

2018 saw several publications worth noting.

The big one was the self-published book, “What is Coworking?” [4] (with its own blog here).  This sprang from dozens of blog postings over several years, encompassing a lot of research and thought.  See the blog for more info.

To publicize the book, I did a Pecha Kucha talk in October [2]. (More info here. This short talk (available on YouTube) sketches one of the more interesting ideas in the book.

On another topic, I contributed an article to the American Solar Energy Association’s Tiny Watts Blog  [1]. The piece combines my long time interest in community maker spaces with my really, really long time interest in solar energy.

I also contributed an article to the local monthly paper, The Public-I [3].  The article discusses the Clean Energy Credit Union, which I learned about at the ASES conference in August.  A longer version with an interview with the cofounder can be found here.

I also had one rejection which is memorable because the conference went totally insane after not accepting my submission. The paper in question is being revised and will be submitted to a real journal or conference in 2019.

So that’s the high points.  See you in print!

(For the record, Most of my publications, projects, and presentations are listed here.)

  1. Robert McGrath, Tiny Watts – Solar Power For Everyone, in Tiny Watts Blog. 2018.
  2. Robert McGrath, What is Coworking? Is It Participatory Theater?, in Champaign Urbana PechaKucha Night. 2018.
  3. Robert E. McGrath, A New Option to Finance A Clean Energy Future for Everyone, in The Public I: A Paper of the People. 2018.
  4. Robert E. McGrath, What is Coworking? A look at the multifaceted places where the gig economy happens and workers are happy to find community. 2018, Robert E. McGrath: Urbana.

Blog Roundup 2018

Five Years!

The end of this year (actually on January 5 2019) marks FIVE YEARS of daily blogging. (I’m told that this would be the “wood” anniversary, so send lumber and firewood!)

This means that I have posted to this every single day since 5 January 2014!

The Motto of This Blog Is:

“It may not be good, but it is consistent”

Total traffic to the bog was up 45%(according to the highly imperfect statistics I get.  What I see is a very definite case of a “long tail”—many, many different posts each getting a few hits, adding up to quite a few.  In fact, there seems to be little pattern other than this, at least in the stats reported to me.

So, consistency pays off!

I also noticed some weirdness in the reporting after the EU privacy rules kicked in.  Reported traffic from Europe dropped to almost zero, which I attribute to a combination of unavailability and suppression of trackers

Overall traffic has been quite variable since, with huge bursts and surges over 4-5 days.  Furthermore, the bursts are associated with traffic from China and HK which looks a like it might a bot sweeping through and caching copies of hundreds of pages.  I don’t have enough information to explore these suggestive patterns.

The New Book!

Even bigger news this year!  My new book was published in April!  (There is a blog to go with the book.)

  1. Robert E. McGrath, What is Coworking? A look at the multifaceted places where the gig economy happens and workers are happy to find community, Urbana, Robert E. McGrath, 2018.

This book represents the fruit of several years of research and writing (and rewriting).

The perfect gift for all ages!

And if you are a glutton for punishment, there is a video of a Pecha Kucha talk from the book.

Whatever Interests Me

As usual, I continue to blog about whatever the heck interests me enough to blog about it.

This year there has been lot’s on:

Dinosaurs, Robots, and The Cyryosphere, Oh My!

Quantum Computing and Solar Energy, and, of course, The New Way of Work

Crypto Tulip of the Year

The second annual Crypto Tulip of the Year will be announced in early January. <<links>>  For more info see last year’s winner, and the new “what it takes” page.

A Crypto Tulip Song

It’s the best year ever!
Getcher Crypto Tulips Here!

Fraud, fraud, fraud, is leapin’
Bugs, bugs, bugs, are swamin’
Regulators are regulatin’
Lawyers are lawyerin’
Centralized services are thrivin’
Coins still don’t scale up
Smart contracts are neither
And there is no consensus in the consensuss

But it’s the best year, best year ever!
Getcher Crypto Tulips Here!

Great Names for Bands

The ongoing list of great names for a band continues, inspired by Sensei Dave Barry. Here are a bunch, mostly taken from real scientific or technical papers.

“Putative sauropod footprints”
“Pterosaur Fur!” (or “Pterosaur Pfur!”)
“Large floating spawn catchers”  (should be said with Aussie accent):
“Solar powered floating larval incubation pools”
“Fossil blubber”
“Jurassic ichthyosaur”
“Leonardo’s Petalos”
“Leonardo’s Lost Robots”
“The CryptoTulips”*
“Irrationally Exuberant Technophilic Mania”*
  (my own coinages)
“crating the swarms of microbots”
“Quantum Rods”
“Flow Batteries”
“The Blue-throated Hillstars”
“Bison Calves of Banff”
  (pron.: Floog-robotah)
“Density Cusps”
“The Fungi Under The Woods”

“Force Jacket” (or maybe “FORCE JACKET”)
“Frog Fungus Catastrophe”
“The Adversarial Patches”

“Psychedelic toasters
(this one has probably has already been used)
“Judicious Design of Nanofins (or perhaps, “Righteous Design of Nanofins” or just “Nanofins”)
“Rapid genome downsizing”
“Diffusivity of Water in Air”
“The Gymnosperms”
“Pulsar Positioning System”
“Galactic Positioning System”
“Mushroom Body”
“A Spritz of Octopamine”
“Hebbian Learning” (almost certainly has been used)
“The Possible Ecologies of Mars”
“Ornament Evolution”

Books, Books, Books:

I reviewed 76 books this year.  See the roundup here:

Blog Roundup 2018: Books Reviewed

A regular feature of this blog is the Sunday Book Reviews, short reviews of books I read this year.  Most of the books were new or recently published.

This year I reviews 58 fiction and 18 non-fiction books. (This doesn’t count the many articles and reports I comment on throughout the year.)

This years reading included lots of favorites including Thomas Perry, Charles Stross, Joe Ide, Donna Leon, A. Lee Martinez.

There are also some new favorites I discovered this year, including Nnedi Okorafor, Edgar Cantero, Theodora Goss, Vivan Shaw.

Some highly recommended* books:

(*This is a highly unsystematic selection—these are all definitely worth your time, though there may be others in my list below that are even better.)

Non fiction

Stamped From The Beginning  (2016)  by Ibram X. Kendi
The Fighters by C. J. Chivers
Ada’s Algorithm (2014) by James Essinger
Crash Test Girl by Kari Byron


The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017) by Theodora Goss
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw
Circe by Madeline Miller

The Whole List

A list of all the book reviews (in no particular order…)


A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman
Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk
Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
Celestial Mechanics by William Least Heat-Moon
Circe by Madeline Miller
Constance Verity Saves The World by A. Lee Martinez
Dark State by Charles Stross
Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
French Exit by Patrick DeWitt
Good Guys by Steven Brust
Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer
How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? By N. K Jemisin
I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing by A. D. Jameson
I Only Killed Him Once by Adam Christopher
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne
Kismet by Luke Tredget
Koko Uncaged by Kieran Shea
Kudos by Rachel Cusk
Make a Nerdy Living by Alex Langley
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Noir by Christopher Moore
Only To Sleep by Lawrence Osborne
Open Me by Lisa Locascio
Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams
Red Waters Rising by Laura Ann Gilman
Robots Vs Fairies edited by Dominick Parisien Navah Wolfe
Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
Street Freaks by Terry Brooks
Tell The Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
The Bomb Maker by Thomas Perry
The Book of Phoenix (2015) by Nnedi Okorafor
The Cackle of Cthulhu edited by Alex Shvartsman
The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp
The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
The Final Frontier edited by Neil Clarke
The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley
The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross
The Man From The Diogenes Club by Kim Newman
The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
The Pope of Palm Beach by Tim Dorsey
The Song of Achilles (2102) by Madeline Miller
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss
The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell
The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon
There, There by Tommy Orange
This Body’s Not Big Enough For Both Of Us by Edgar Cantero
Versailles by Yannick Hill
Who Fears Death (2011) by Nnedi Okorafor
Wrecked by Joe Ide

Non Fiction

Ada’s Algorithm (2014) by James Essinger
Adults in the Room by Yanis Varoufakis
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
City of Demons by Paul French
Crash Test Girl by Kari Byron
Darwin Comes To Town by Menno Schilthuizen
Failure is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin
How To Plan A Crusade by Christopher Tyerman
Nothing edited by Jeremy Webb
Ours To Hack And To Own edited by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider
Stamped From The Beginning (2016) by Ibram X. Kendi
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
The Earth is Weeping (2016) by Peter Cozzens
The Fighters by C. J. Chivers
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
The Tangled Tree by David Quammen
The Wordy Shipmates (2018) by Sarah Vowell
Totally Random by Tanya Bub and Jeffrey Bub
When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney

Sunday Book Reviews