The hive mind in a hundred aphorisms

In September 2009, for no reason I can remember, I turned a pithy comment by a complete stranger into a minimalist blog post. A week or so later, I did it again. And a few days after that, I did it a third time, and so, rather unwittingly, a series had begun.

The hundredth aphorism has just been posted, with an added dash of self-indulgent pretentiousness to mark the occasion. I have also created a page which lists the complete set (and a link to it in the sidebar) in a way which makes them much more visible than a category listing could achieve. The list is sortable by aphorist as well as by the text of the aphorism (the latter is pretty pointless, but does allow the generation of found poetry). In further celebration, I declare next week to be another aphorism week, with a new one out every day.

The thing the aphorisms have in common is that there is something about the turn of phrase and something about the underlying thought which caught my eye. The thing they show collectively is partly the kinds of things likely to catch my eye, and partly what the hive mind is thinking about and what it is thinking about it.1

The list also makes it possible to see who the aphorists are collectively. I was a bit surprised to see how many different people are represented, and wouldn’t have guessed the person who got the top spot.  Nor would I have guessed that a place on the list would become as socially desirable as seems to be the case in some quarters:

Ten people feature twice each:

  • Chris Dillow
  • Clay Shirky
  • David Eaves
  • David Weinberger
  • Flip Chart Rick
  • Geoff Mulgan
  • Paul Clarke
  • Seth Godin
  • Steven Johnson
  • William Perrin

But the clear leader is John Kay, with four entries. His columns are always well worth reading,  but I have no idea why he should be such an outlier.

Even more unexpected is that the 103 aphorisms in the first hundred (three are double entries) come from 90 different writers. Or perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising at all: there are plenty of interesting people around, saying plenty of interesting things.

  1. And the list also shows that there are a few entries which are too long and complicated really to be aphorisms at all.

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