OpenLab 2009 is done!

OpenLab 2009 is a compilation of fifty blog posts chosen from several hundred nominated for 2009. For the second time I was a judge for OpenLab, and I can tell you that it is a shame to see only 50 selections given that many more than this number were clearly worthy. But that is what happens when one transforms electrons into bits of ink and paper …. you throw a lot of wheat out with the chaff.

Scicurious did a great job as this year’s editor, and a great deal of thanks is owed to her.

Here is the post announcing the final cut.
I’m sure further announcements will eventually be made regarding the volume itself.

Here is the list of posts:


  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    January 13, 2010

    Greg, how do you find the time to do something like this judging? Do you sleep at all? Is your day somehow 60 hours long and your week 12 days?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    January 13, 2010

    I should mention that the judging is not that big a deal. There are over a dozen judges, and Scicurious divided up the posts so each of us had a very reasonable number to do. I did not look at hundreds of posts! Just dozens. Same with all the judges.

  3. #3 Kate
    January 13, 2010

    Yeah, I wish they had had a runners up category, so that those of us who didn’t make the final cut at least knew if we were close (kind of like getting a number and reviewer comments for a grant!).

    But I’ve read a bunch of the finalists and it’s a fantastic list!

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    January 13, 2010

    Kate, it was done in two cuts. There were about 200 posts that came through the first cut, and none of those that I saw didn’t deserve wider publication. At that point, it starts to come down to balancing topics and styles and a bunch of other stuff that is no reflection whatsoever on the writing.

  5. #5 Alec
    January 13, 2010

    Why is the volume limited to 50 posts? A blog post is usually not long. 50 posts must be about 50 to 70 pages. There should be 100 posts. Or 114 maybe.

  6. #6 Scicurious
    January 13, 2010

    Kate: What Stephanie said. We try to narrow it down, but it is also a matter of balancing topics and styles. And when we start with 760 and need to get down to 50, we will always end up not being able to put in everything we want to. As for comments, I feel it’s best to not publicize those. Some bloggers of course would appreciate them, but during judging, I want everyone to be entirely open about what they think and why, and I do not want to jeopardize that by taking away the confidentiality.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    January 13, 2010

    Alec, last year’s Open Lab hit 186 pages in trade paperback. Substantive blog posts are longer than you think. The good ones feel shorter.

  8. #8 Alec
    January 13, 2010

    Fine. But I just picked up the three nearest trade paperbacks and they were all around 300 pages. Obviously, they picked “50” as an arbitrary number of posts, but normally one would pick an arbitrary number of pages and then fill up the book. The cost differernce between 186 pages and something double that is very small, so something closer to 100 posts would truly be more bang for the buck.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    January 13, 2010

    Alec: I agree that more would be better to a point. Doubling the number (roughly) would not reduce the quality, based on what I saw. I don’t know anything about the publication process for this volume, but I think it is some sort of “on demand” thing, in which case it could be that double the size is double the price.

    Kate: The problem with an honorable mention category is that then the editor and organizers have to lay it down for real … these posts here were good enough, these posts over there were not. As it is now, the editors and organizers can always say “Oh, so many of the posts were good, if you’re post is not one of them it is just because there were so many at this point it is almost random.”

    The truth is that the blogosphere is not mature enough to handle the first option, so we’re probably better off with the ambiguous option.

    But yes, I would advocate increasing the size if possible in future volumes, becasue there is easily the material for it.

    Stephanie, maybe we should revive the discussion of the Golden Quiche awards!

  10. #10 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    January 13, 2010

    Okay, Greg, I know I am not going to be in North Carolina but don’t discuss Golden Quiche without me. We need to do that here, and with beer.

    Also, I just wanted to say that among all of the great posts that were entered, I was grateful and honored that Glendon had nominated a post at among those. I mean that seriously and without false modest.