The 10s in Review: Whatever Best of 2010 – 2019
Posted on December 26, 2019 Posted by John Scalzi 17 Comments
It’s been a fairly momentous decade for Whatever — it had some of its highest trafficked years in 2012 and 2013, and while direct daily visitorship to the site has declined as people migrated to Facebook and Twitter as those two sites took over the Internet, Whatever still manages to make a splash when I link to it from one of those two sites. I’m personally curious what will happen when those sites inevitably decline; while I’m not exactly waiting for the “blogosphere” to come back in any meaningful way, I hold out the hope that personal sites might nevertheless get a general second wind as people begin to entertain the idea that there’s more to the online experience than just what Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey think they should see.
Over the course of the last decade, several pieces I wrote gained traction on the Internet at large and/or were some of the best things I’ve written in that timeframe, and/or represented the moment in which they were written in a particularly memorable way. Below, you’ll find links to these pieces. I’ve limited the list to twenty because I don’t want to tax anyone’s patience, and also because I think that’s enough to get a taste of how this decade was here on the site. Enjoy the retrospective as the 10s come to a close. Barring catastrophe, I’ll be writing here through the 20s as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how the recap of that decade might vary from this one. Come back in ten years and see.
- Apologies: What, When and How
- A Book Sale at the Cost of Your Conscience
- The Brain Eater
- The Cinemax Theory of Racism
- A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians
- The Four Levels of Discrimination (and You) (and Me, Too)
- How I Knew I’d Made It
- Impostor Syndrome, Or Not
- Meet Keith Johnson
- The Myth of SF/F Publishing House Exceptionalism
- Omelas State University
- On the Matter of Empathy For Horrible People
- Personal Politics
- Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is
- What I Think About Atlas Shrugged
- Who Gets to Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants to Be
- Who We Are Online, Who We Are Offline, How They’re Different and How They’re the Same
- Will Humans Survive?
- Writing: Find the Time or Don’t
For all of you who have stuck with this site over the last decade: Thank you for reading, and commenting, and linking in. Let’s keep at it.
You left out one of my favorites “On Being a Self-made Man” – July 23, 2012.I think it makes some very real and necessary points that most of us need to remember.
I like the idea that there are variances of opinion.
Also, for everyone else, the link to “A Self-Made Man Looks at How He Made It.”
First time reading your blog thanks to word of mouth and discovering Old Man’s War. (And a bit from Twitter tbh.) So glad to see a list of where to get started with your posts. Hope you have a great 2020, and thanks for being awesome!
You definitely hit some of my favorites of the past decade. I have lost count of the number of times that I’ve shared a link to “Straight White Male” (most recently last week). I really appreciate the way you use your journalistic chops to get tough, fraught ideas across in a very accessible fashion.
I’m glad you plan to keep Whatever going into the next decade. I continue to enjoy my time here as much as I have since I first stumbled across it years ago.
Also, I was pleased to see Impostor Syndrome in the list.
Anyone ever tell you you look like a real asshole in your pictures? Not just the ones for this post, but seems every time I see a picture of you I think “god what an asshole”. I know you aren’t, it’s just weird.
Then again, I look like an uncomfortable dork in all my pictures. Have since I was a kid which is why, at 61 years of age, there are maybe a dozen pictures of me on this laptop.
@Jim said: “Anyone ever tell you you look like a real asshole in your pictures?”
I totally disagree, Jim. John looks fine. I reckon you might be projecting. (Or trolling?)
“Anyone ever tell you you look like a real asshole in your pictures?”
Lol. No, not really, Jim.
“Will humans survive” is rather optimistic. Human civilization is several millennia old. Industrial civilization is less than two centuries old. (1830, Liverpool and Manchester Railway, when the Industrial Revolution got out of beta and started to scale up.) Only in the past 50 years have humans been able to make a serious dent in planetary resources. Looks like we have enough resources for the next 50 years, but the next 500, not so much.
Among my favorite corners of the blogosphere. Merci.
Bonne Année 2020 and happy 20s
PS : “Will humans survive” reminds me that I’m reading Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael
I do believe our political views are divergent, much like the life forms of Trenco, but on occasion there is a convergence. Keep up your writing (and the website), it is entertaining and takes interesting twists of logic here and there. This is proof of the great American experiment, we can enjoy each others company, written or otherwise, even if ready to fight tooth and nail over articles of disagreement.
I trust St. Nick has been generous to the Scalzi household this year and may you all enjoy good health and a prosperous New Year.
I asked the question behind “will humans survive”.
Looking at the thread now, I think the question was misconstrued.
I never asked about “humans”. The question said “earthlings” and asked can “we” survive. In a billion years, intelligent life on earth might all be robots for all I know. Evolution beyond homo sapiens wasnt a concern.
Also, a number of comments seemed to point to the notion that the question meant ignoring near term issues, but I ended the question with “can we survive that long?” which was meant to take into account problems we face now.
I remember the first time i read “2001: space odyssey” it gave me a glimpse of time on the scale of billions of years and a glimpse of space on a galactic scale.
Some years later, hitchhikers guide came out, and it had the total vortex machine, which apparently did the same thing but was used as a torture device.
When Carl Sagan spoke of the billions and billions of years before and after us and light years of space around us, it wasnt from a place of torture or desparation. He acknowledged our short existence and our tiny speck of dust we call earth, but found a way to accept our finiteness while creating a feeling of connection to the infinite.
I was looking for more of that.
Maybe there was an optimism in the 70’s that allowed that sort of thinking that just doesnt work today. Maybe Sagan and Clark were a kind of optimist that doesnt exist today. Dunno.
Anyway, if anyone can recommend writers who embrace the infinite that way, i would love to hear about them.
From “Writing: Find the Time or Don’t”:
“But if you want to be a writer, than be a writer, for god’s sake. It’s not that hard, and it doesn’t require that much effort on a day to day basis. Find the time or make the time. Sit down, shut up and put your words together. ”
Also, one of your infamous posts was titled: “On Teens, and the Fact Their Writing Sucks”
And i now have this weird image in my head of you waving a cane before you learned to walk.
@Jim, that’s funny – my thought was that John’s weight loss was evident in his face and that the two photos demonstrated that well. John, congratulations (even though this would more properly be a comment on the post about your weight loss and maintenance thereof).
I would tend to describe that facial expression as “slightly skeptical” – and in some cases, people most emphatically Do Not Like being on the receiving end of a “But…” with good logic behind it. That said, different contexts/cultures interpret facial expressions differently, so I have no idea really. I can just barely sort of maybe see where someone might go “not a person I want to cold-call, thanks” based on that specific facial expression, although I still don’t quite see “asshole” out of it?
Anyway. Thanks for the list of things to re-read. :-)
Hmm. I find your picks (both in terms of what made it on, and what didn’t) kind of interesting. Obviously stuff like “Straight White Male” would have to be included on any list of significant Whatever posts, but this blog does seem to have enough… what would you call them? “blockbuster” entries that you can’t really include them all in a best-of.
Of course I’m not you, but if I was, first, it would be cool to have more developed writing skills, but also, I would have also included (off the top of my head) “The New Year and the Bend of the Arc,” “Don’t Live for Your Obituary,” “18,” and (to second this) “Self-Made Man,” which I think touches upon some the same themes as “How I Knew I’d Made It,” but in an even more effective way.
Hmm, I hadn’t seen “A Book Sale at the Cost of Your Conscience” before, but I have to say that it really resonates with the events of the last few days with Courtney Milan vs. RWA! Suddenly, things become much more clear. This has been much more overt than I realized all along!