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A Look Back

January 3, 2016

Wow, it's 2016 already. It's been eighteen months since I began writing here, and after more than a hundred posts, most of them during the last year, I've come a long way here in lots of ways.

I've got a lot more to say for the new year, from my version of the New Year's Resolutions to where I want to be in 365 more days*. But before all of that, I want to take an opportunity to look at 2015, the year that just was, through the lens of this blog. What happened on here in 2015? Based on my personal preference, pageviews, and feedback from you, here's my top picks for the ten best pieces, most notable events, and best moments I've written about.

But before I leave you with the list, I have one more thing I need to say. While looking through the TLT posts archive to pick out the ones to go on today's list, I noticed something strange. Over the last few months of 2015, the frequency of posts declined significant, but the quality of the posts, in my opinion, when up. While I was writing less, when I was writing, I was writing because I really cared about what I was saying. I think, because of that, the posts in the later months of 2015 were more interesting to read, more interesting to write, and better pieces in general.

Those are the kind of posts I want to write, every time, in 2016. I want every post to have a point, and I want that point to be something I really care about, written because I really have something new I want to say about it. I look forward to making that happen.

But until next time, here's the best of 2015.

Different Stories

Over the summer of 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to go through the biggest national parks in southwest US and write about my experiences on the blog, and this was one of my favorite pieces from that trip. After hiking through the Grand Canyon and sleeping in the Yosemite Valley, I talked about the difference in scales between the Earth and our individual lives, and the meaning of the things we do to make the most of it.

The Artists' Motivation

There were a handful of posts this year inspired by videos and talks from other people online, and this was one of them. Combining some ideas from Mary Kate Wiles's YouTube channel and my personal experiences, I talk about the why behind my music and design and her acting, which is probably a near-universal feeling for anyone who creates art in some way. No matter how difficult it is to be an artist, professionally or on the side, we do it for one thing. It's the Artists' Motivation.

Why I Don't Like School

This is definitely one of my favorite posts from this year, not because it's the longest post or because it took me the longest to write (though both of those are true), but because it's one of the things I'm truly passionate about -- not why schools are bad, but how I think they could be so much better. I start from my take on why education is important for every one of the two billion children in the world (and to everyone else, too) and try to make a bold pitch for a more effective, future-ready mindset for learning. But if you just want to read a passionate rant against run-of-the-mill schools, this is a fine choice, too.

Double Reality (on legalization of same-sex marriage)

One of the biggest events in the US was the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court over the summer, and surprise, this is my thoughts on that historic ruling. But more than that, it's also a piece about how communities with drastically different backgrounds can come together -- did come together -- to make decisions that literally change the world.

The Fences of Transparency

As we slowly but surely copy more and more of our lives into the digital, surveillance, especially by our own governments, is a huge issue. Inspired by a John Oliver's interview of Ed Snowden, I cover not only if national surveillance is justified in today's world, but also how we should view Edward Snowden as a central figure in the leaks that exposed the government's sometimes-illegal domestic surveillance programs.

Counting to 100

Back in my personal life, one of the biggest moments this year was the one-year anniversary of the blog and the one hundredth post on the site, and a top-ten posts list wouldn't be complete without the one hundredth one. It's nothing mind-blowing or insanely great, but it's certainly a nice post to look back through the things I've been through on the site.

Taking a Break

This one was only a few posts ago, in mid-December. After a long hiatus from writing, I came back and talked about the need for taking breaks, both physically and mentally, even from things that you promised you wouldn't stop, or things that were the center of your life. There were some big takeaways from stepping outside of the day-to-day hustle of writing, coding, and publishing, and I talk about them here.

History on Repeat (RFRA)

In the earlier half of 2015, a controversial piece of legislation struck the news in the US and fired up (yet another) debate about religious freedom. But this post isn't really about the legislation -- there are better sources for information on that. In this post, I tried to delve deeper into the fact that, to an extent, these negative points in history are cyclical -- we can't really escape them. There are ways to deal with them better, though, when they do come around in time, and here's a few of them.

Falling Upwards (on the Charleston shooting)

Racial bias and terrorism thereof has been a particularly important topic of discussion, not just in the last year, but in the last few years, and a shooting of ten in a church with racist motives only added fuel to the debate. Everything that should be said has already been said, and are only left to be reiterated, but these were -- and still are -- my thoughts on the shooting, and many others like it.

Broadcast Yourself

Some posts here are about events across borders and oceans, and some are about my personal experiences, but this one's neither of those. Written after a brief visit to Boston and the MIT Campus, I talk about why I write online, why I publish online, and the way the Internet, among other technologies, has infinitely and indefinitely changed the way the world works. A single voice isn't a single voice anymore, and this post is about that shift in our culture.


* Yes, I know, this is a leap year. I don't care. It's already January 2. Leave my math alone.