In my continuing tribute to Dave Barry, I suggest great names for bands, usually based on actual scientific literature. This quarter’s entries are:
Pacific Pumice Raft Sichuan Mudslides (would also be a great name for cocktail) Soft Exo Suits The Weddell Gyre Giant Miocene Parrots
For your convenience, here is a list of the books reviewed this quarter, 8 non-fiction and 11 fiction. If you read only one of these, I’d recommend This is How You Lose the Time Warby Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
This quarter also saw a dramatic drop in hits reported in the stats. (I have states only about hits.) The drop seems to coincide with the shutdown of Google+ on April 1. I had been automatically posting every blog article to Google+, so maybe that was getting them more visible in Google searches. I dunno.
The Usual Suspects
This quarter saw lots of posts about the usual suspects: The Cryosphere, Solar power, as well as the usual Cryptocurrency Thursdays and Robot Wednesdays and so on.
A couple of great names for band:
Eocene Whale Chicxulub ejecta
Books Reviewed This Quarter
Weekly book reviews continued every Sunday. Here is a list (in no particular order).
According to my calculations, today (or maybe yesterday) marks 2,000 days in a row of blog posts! (At roughly 300 words per post, that’s over 6 megawords, probably approaching 10 megawords.)
“It may not be good, but its consistent!”
I’ll take this opportunity to muse a bit.
What Do I think I’m Doing
Why am I doing it? Not for profit—I receive no money for it. Not for glory—readership is probably in the tens, although most of the response is from robots, so who knows? I must say that the rare positive feedback is very, very appreciated. It’s quite a trip to emit this stuff into the empty ether, and every once in a while hear that somebody actually read and appreciated it! Thanks, folks.
My original purpose was to keep in practice and maybe improve my writing. Upon retirement, it is important to exercise, including my brain. And as I discovered, posting even a short piece every day is a lot of work. I could not have done it if I had to show up for a job.
One of the things I do with the blog is write short comments on things I read. This has forced me to read more carefully, and think at least a little about what I read. I’m sure it’s good for me.
With weekly book reviews, I’ve had to read more that 50 books a year—which is my wheelhouse, but is also really good for me. I read a lot, but this makes me keep moving, and also write up short essays on what I read.
I also wanted to use the blog to develop long form topics for further work, such as articles or books. Initially, I was thinking of a book about cryptocurrency, about which I post regularly. But I also wrote quite a bit about the “Future of Work”, especially Freelancing and Coworking Spaces. The latter turned into a self-published book project.
So that worked. (And I have a couple of other potential book ideas lurking in there, if I could find the energy.)
What Have I Learned
I was interested in experiencing how the web works these days, in a sort of participant observation research way. Blogging with WordPress has proved to be as simple as I always hoped things could be. (I have endured a lot of awful software in my life, so I know what I’m talknig about. Well done, Automatic.
I also found that eschewing Facebook means that I’m basically off the air, non-existent, talking to noone. Traffic is very low, but it has been very noticeable when someone reposts a blog entry to FB—visitors jump dramatically.
I have also seen that the much-maligned Google+ seems to have driven traffic to my site, perhaps through Google searches. And I have little evidence that cross posting to LinkedIn does very much. But who knows?
Oh, and I have definitely seen the “long tail” effect that we all read about. Posting thousands of different items gives me hits not just on recent posts, but all the way back. It’s weird, but true.
Self-publishing was another exploration of contemporary technology that grew out of my blogging. Writing a book is hard work. Publishing is much easier than it used to be. I found Lulu to be astonishingly easy to use. The workflow isn’t too hard to use, and they have all the steps broken down into menu sized choices. Well done, Lulu.
Of course, I discovered that selling a book is just as hard or harder than ever. (Lulu and other people will help you, for a fee.) Simply having a book available in Amazon, etc., has not resulted in any particular notice or sales. I even broke down and joined Twitter to promote the book. I suspect that eschewing FB probably is fatal to any hopes of book sales.
So, I’ve learned a few things.
I do not know how long I will be able to continue daily posts. We’ll have to see. Life may intervene.
Supposing I do want or need to reduce or end the posts, what is a good protocol? I’ve never looked to see if there is advice on this. (Most advice is about how to grow and how to monetize—two things I really don’t want to do.)
Is there a way to gracefully shutdown or throttle back a blog? Should there be posts saying “there are no posts”? How long should the long tail be left around? How do you leave something out there without actively maintaining it?
“Congratulations to ICO technology for setting a new standard for Tuipi-ness!”
As usual, I occasionally suggest good names for a band. These are taken from or adapter from actual titles and phrases in readings and articles. This quarter ‘s bands are:
Perching Drones Perch And Stare Mission Due to a lack of sunlight in Scotland” Blogging Birds Of Scotland Huddle Pod (or how about Cuddle pod?) Giant Hopping Tree Rats
Prehistoric kangaroos (Pretty much anything with “kangaroo” in it!) Tiny Pronking Robots Computational Periscopy
Books, Books, Books
And last but not least, I continue to read and review books. Here is the list of the 19 books covered this quarter for this quarter.
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.
For now, the blog will continue daily, book reports on Sunday. Shall I shoot for ten years?
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?”  (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 . (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 . 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 . 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.)
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. https://whatiscoworkingthebook.com/
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.)
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).
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”
“Leonardo’s Lost Robots”
“Irrationally Exuberant Technophilic Mania”* (my own coinages) “crating the swarms of microbots” “Quantum Rods” “Photocatalysis” “Flow Batteries” “The Blue-throated Hillstars” “Bison Calves of Banff”
“Flugroboter!” (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”
“Pulsar Positioning System”
“Galactic Positioning System”
“A Spritz of Octopamine”
“Hebbian Learning” (almost certainly has been used)
“The Possible Ecologies of Mars”
Books, Books, Books:
I reviewed 76 books this year. See the roundup here: