This blog has enhanced my working life in so many ways, so let me start by thanking you for reading, sharing, and commenting here. The writing I do here — 909 posts so far — led to my textbook (working on the second edition now), and the new collection of essays I have under contract (and now under review at U. of California Press). Because of the visibility I have here, I got to be co-editor of Contexts magazine for the last two years (one more to go), and got elected to leadership positions in the American Sociological Association’s Family and Population sections. And the engagement I get here, with the discipline of sociology and academia generally, led to this year’s major initiative, SocArXiv, an open access archive of social science research (read about it, share your work, watch videos, @follow). This is all very rewarding work with an expanding group of great colleagues and collaborators.*
All of these things took me away from the daily work of writing here this year. As a result, I wrote fewer posts — 77, compared with an average of 130 per year since 2010. And for the first time this blog saw a decline in readership in 2016. Even with a self-serving new measure — visitors per new piece posted, which deflates the hit count by an indicator of effort — there was a drop this year:
As long as blog traffic was increasing, I was of course delighted to report on my success on that metric. Now that it’s not I stress other key indicators, such as those I listed above. Obviously I won’t be measuring success by my interventions into politics. But more fundamentally, all of us in the knowledge and truth business have more serious problems to consider than impact metrics.
The most popular posts I wrote this year fall into four categories: Trump, the academic publishing problem, regular demography, and debunking.** This is a good reflection of my priorities over the year, and I have no strategic adjustments planned for 2017. But who knows?
Here are the top 10 posts written in 2016. Thanks again for reading!
- No Black women are not the “most educated group in the US”. How do you debunk a false meme when it says something positive about people you want to support?
- Black men raping White women: BJS’s Table 42 problem. A lot of clicks on this post came from people Googling things like “black man rape white woman.” I hope they stay to read it.
- Life table says divorce rate is 52.7%. There is no one “divorce rate.” This is an underappreciated method, with a non-surprising result.
- How broken is our system (hit me with that figure again edition). And see also Eran Shor responds. Our academic publishing system once again revealed to be poorly designed for the task of providing information to people.
- Perspective on sociology’s academic hierarchy and debate. Follow up to the Shor et al. debate. Academics are going to have to get thicker skins.
- The one big thing that might doom Trump in November. Race, I figured. I stuck with this message all year. Maybe it helped a little.
- Must-know current demographic facts. Updating a list of the basics, especially for teaching.
- How the left can win the general election. Some suggestions for how to win in a two-party game. The focus on “social” versus “economic” issues was incorrect. (This one just made the list because Chris Hayes called it “fascinating” on Twitter, a quote I plan to put on the back of all my books from now on.)
- Looks like racist Southern Whites like Trump. Sure do.
- For (not against) a better publishing model. How the American Sociological Association is not getting it right. Written the day I registered the SocArXiv domains.
* Note this year I started posting data and code on the Open Science Framework, a collaboration and sharing platform on which SocArXiv also runs. Here are my public projects. I hope you’ll consider using it, or something like it.
** Not included on this list, but probably tops among my essays this year, is the post that was picked up by the LSE Impact blog about the formation of SocArXiv.