2012 in review

December 30, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

You know FB has finally hooked you when

December 29, 2012

you think about updating your status with an insight before writing about it in your journal or talking about it with anyone else.

I signed up with Facebook in 2006 after some students at Alabama A&M invited me and told me I needed to be on Facebook. Some students preferred MySpace, so I may have had a MySpace account first. No matter — I rarely used either.

And, until about a week ago, I still didn’t *get* Facebook. Really not. Did not get the appeal. Didn’t get how folks logged on several times a day. Didn’t get the FB games with farm animals and fairies. Just did not get FB. A utilitarian FB user, I considered myself above the hoi polloi because I logged on only after I’d gotten a Gmail message alerting me to a new post in one of the groups I belonged to. I used FB for information — not personal aggrandizement.

Then, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, I *shared* a poster with a quote by John Oliver about shoe-bombs, airport security, and gun laws. And I watched the poster get re-posted by several people. And I thought, “Wow. That’s almost a meme, eh?” Then I shared a photo of young Angela Davis and Toni Morrison walking side-by-side and wearing huge afros. Several people commented. Nieces, former colleagues, old friends I haven’t seen in many years. And I was finally hooked. I finally got FB. What did I get? The serendipity and idiosyncrasy of information and sharing it. Echoes. The comfort of like minds. Appreciation.

Now, I log on to FB, and I often spend five to ten minutes scrolling through all the updates. I enjoy FB community — which is a curious sort of community. I won’t call it elusive or illusionary, although I want to. I feel a connection to people with whom I have not spoken in many years — sometimes decades. I know personal preferences and incidents in the lives of people whom I know only cursorily in face-to-face interactions. And I bump up against people I’ve never met but discover through other FB friends — and I appreciate their writing or their events or their politics.

I finally touched down on Planet Facebook.

Google’s tribute to Ada

December 10, 2012

Yeah! The Google doodle for today is a tribute to Lady Augusta Ada Byron Lovelace. Click on the doodle and you’ll find a list of excellent resources.

I’ll add my own here — a paper I write in 2000 called Ada and Grace: Practical Visionaries. I wrote the paper for a computer science class I took (in C — imagine that…), and I remember getting 110 on it. But then, I had my PhD in comparative literature and had been teaching college for a while. I think my computer science teacher was deliriously happy to get a literate and well-researched paper, and she also knew I worked my butt off in the class. Just a bit competitive academically, I got one of the highest grades.

Sue Bogar’s class taught me that coding was like writing poetry, and Ada — only legitimate child of Lord Byron — knew how math and language interwove. My favorite quotation from my research comes from a letter Ada wrote to her mother: “You will not concede me philosophical poetry. Invert the order! Will you give me poetical philosophy, poetical science?”