Sorta Insightful turns five years old today! That feels kinda weird, because it’s the longest I’ve spent sustaining one thing. Elementary school was five years, middle school was three years, high school was four years. Undergrad was four years, and I’ve since been working at Google for another four years.

Thanks for reading. If you haven’t read my previous anniversary posts, I do a meta-post every year about blogging. This year’s meta-post is, once again, a bit rushed, because I’ve been working on another post about AI timelines, which I’m also releasing today.


Word Count

Last year, I wrote 21,878 words. This year, I wrote 32,161 words.

 1,751 2019-08-18-four-years.markdown  
 3,215 2019-10-30-openai-rubiks.markdown  
   709 2019-11-18-alphastar-update.markdown  
 1,187 2019-12-25-neurips-2019.markdown  
 1,819 2020-01-17-berkeley-back-pay.markdown  
 1,461 2020-01-22-mh-2020.markdown  
 7,434 2020-02-27-mh-2020-part2.markdown  
 5,281 2020-03-16-puzzlehunt-tech.markdown  
   912 2020-03-22-spring-cleaning.markdown  
 2,875 2020-04-16-contact-tracing.markdown  
 1,379 2020-05-07-rl-potpourri.markdown  
 2,080 2020-05-17-corona-chernobyl.markdown  
 2,058 2020-06-24-openai-lp.markdown  
32,161 total  

I’m pleasantly surprised to see it’s so much larger. I suspect it’s because of the very long posts I wrote about puzzlehunts. Due to running a hunt this year, I had spent a lot of time thinking about puzzlehunt design, which made those posts relatively easy to write.

Traditionally, I count posts written on August 18 for the next year’s count, so the AI timelines post is not included and I’ll have a good start for next year.

Post length is a bad measure of output, for the same reason that lines of code changed is a bad software engineering metric. As the Mark Twain quote goes, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” I do think it’s a reasonable measure though, as long as I stay aware of how much time I spent editing each post.

(I just noticed I shared a Woodrow Wilson quote with the same sentiment last year. Incredible. Amazing. Next year I’ll find a new person to cite for this. I put odds on using either Blaise Pascal, or Benjamin Franklin.)

I wrote 13 posts this year, counting the Mystery Hunt post which was split into 2 parts. This is just over my trend of 1 post per month. Again, pleasantly surprised by that. I can’t even credit the coronavirus for this. In general I have been much less productive during the pandemic, due to having my goof-off space and work space so close to one another. The Bay Area shelter in place order started March 17. It has been 5 months since that order, 5 posts were written in those five months and 8 posts were written in the seven preceding months. So it looks like my blog writing was less productive as well, but not by much.

View Counts

These are the view counts from August 18, 2019 to today, for the posts I’ve written this year.

  471 2019-08-18-four-years.markdown  
1,639 2019-10-30-openai-rubiks.markdown  
  273 2019-11-18-alphastar-update.markdown  
  375 2019-12-25-neurips-2019.markdown  
  402 2020-01-17-berkeley-back-pay.markdown  
  738 2020-01-22-mh-2020.markdown  
  322 2020-02-27-mh-2020-part2.markdown  
  298 2020-03-16-puzzlehunt-tech.markdown  
  134 2020-03-22-spring-cleaning.markdown  
  207 2020-04-16-contact-tracing.markdown  
  481 2020-05-07-rl-potpourri.markdown  
  295 2020-05-17-corona-chernobyl.markdown  
  262 2020-06-24-openai-lp.markdown  

This is a big drop in view count compared to last year, about 1/3rd the views from last year. Many of my posts were about more obscure topics, so it makes sense. I’m a bit bummed my contact tracing post got so few views though, I put a lot of work into it and felt it could have been one of my more important posts if it changed someone’s mind about contact tracing. However, the US response has been so dysfunctional that we don’t have the centralized contact tracing app I envisioned. We instead of a lot of independent efforts with low install rates, and country wide reopenings that are happening for economic reasons, even though the \(R_0\) is above 1. What a mess.

Time Spent Writing

Excluding time spent on this post, but including time spent on the AI timelines post, I spent 116 hours, 36 minutes writing for my blog this year. This is more than last year but less than 2 years ago. That feels about right.

(Side note #2: On a reread of last year’s meta-post, I found that not only did I quote Woodrow Wilson / Mark Twain / whoever last year, I also made the exact same “quote attribution unclear” joke, with the exact same link! What the heck, am I really that predictable? I really should remove both this side note and the previous one, but you know what, I’m keeping it, the fact my mind is so repetitive is pretty interesting.)

Posts in Limbo

I still want to write a Gunnerkrigg Court post. But I want to write it in the sense that I like the idea of writing it. That isn’t the same as actually doing it.

(Me, last year)

I think it’s literally been four years since I talked about writing that Gunnerkrigg Court post. I’m no longer surprised I haven’t gotten around to it. Hopefully it will not be an ongoing meme.

Just as a quick review of last year’s predicted post topics…

Post about measurement: 20% odds of writing before end of 2019 (I didn’t), 95% odds of writing eventually.

New odds of writing eventually: 65%. I’m starting to think that the ideas I wanted to express are already known to the people that care about it, which makes me less motivated to write this. I still believe it’s an important topic though!

Post about Gunnerkrigg Court: 25% odds of writing before end of 2019 (I didn’t), 70% odds of writing eventually.

New odds of writing eventually: 50%

Post about My Little Pony: 50% odds of writing before end of 2019 (I didn’t), 85% odds of writing eventually.

New odds of writing eventually: 90%. It’s coming I swear. I thought I would be done with My Little Pony by now, but every time I think it’s over, they pull me back in.

Post about Dominion Online: 35% odds of writing before end of 2019 (I didn’t), 85% odds of writing eventually.

New odds of writing eventually: 65%. The draft is untouched since last year, but I can see myself visiting it again.

Based on me going 0 of 4 on my “write by end of 2019” predictions, you should probably downgrade all those numbers a bit. My bloging rate is fairly steady. My calibration on what I write about is awful.

Anyways, what are you doing reading this meta-post? Go read the AI timelines post instead! Go tell me why I’m an idiot or why I’m right.