Let’s finish 2020 on a positive note (or ten)

by Eszter Hargittai on December 22, 2020

For the last ten days of this insanity of a year, I am going to blog about various positive things and ask you to share your related experiences. They’ll concern new books you’ve read and liked, new recipes you’ve tried and recommend, etc.

I’m starting with an entirely self-serving category, which concerns the sharing of something you created (minus images, which will be a separate post). I was fortunate to get to do a lot this year and perhaps most exciting was putting the finishing touches on a new edited volume about digital media research.

My book Research Exposed: How Empirical Social Science Gets Done in the Digital Age just came out from Columbia University Press. It includes a dozen chapters of social scientists discussing the behind-the-scenes realities of doing empirical research using digital methods and/or studying the social aspects of digital media. The pieces cover a wide range of methods from analyzing millions of tweets to careful sampling for qualitative work, from recruiting hard-to-access populations for surveys and focus groups to using mixed methods for studying various groups. The authors are unusually candid about all the ups and downs they faced during their studies. It’s a very informative and engaging read.

The book is third in a line of related books I have published. There was Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have (University of Michigan Press) whose title was inspired by a CT reader and whose cover design I crowdsourced here and elsewhere. Then came Digital Research Confidential: The Secrets of Studying Behavior Online from The MIT Press, which I co-edited with Christian Sandvig. And now we have Research Exposed, whose title was recommended by an anonymous reviewer so I don’t even know whom to thank for it.

In the strictest sense, the book is targeted at social scientists – across fields from communication to sociology, from political science to journalism studies – who want to understand better what methodological approaches from earlier are still very relevant and what new challenges and opportunities digital media bring to the table. It is certainly great for students – from upper-level undergraduate to graduate – but also for scholars at all levels wanting to understand doing research better. I would hope it would also be of interest to non-scholars who would like to have a sense for how high-quality social science gets done these days.

And now it’s your turn. What did you create this year that you are especially excited to share? This can be a published book, journal article, oped, blog post, tweet, podcast, video, etc. (I will have a separate post for sharing images such as photographs and drawings, paintings, etc. so perhaps hold off on those for now.)



skholiast 12.22.20 at 5:06 pm

I blogged very little this year, too depressed by the state of the national conversation. But when summer school was cancelled at the private K-8 school I am employed at, I successfully shifted gears to online teaching Philosophy for young students (P4C as they call it in the Philosophy for Children community), and besides having made better money with it than I did before, I have now taught four very successful courses with middle- and elementary school students, several of whom have come back for more. I’m not optimistic about the future, but I’m hopeful.


Tim Walters 12.22.20 at 5:47 pm

Music now, later, or never?


NickS 12.22.20 at 5:50 pm

Those are impressive blurbs for the book. Congratulations!


Eszter Hargittai 12.22.20 at 7:48 pm

skholiast, that sounds very neat, good for you for the great pivot!

Tim, good point, I am embarrassed to say that I did not have that on my list of ten. Clearly I need help in that domain! I’ll add a music day for both making and finding, thanks for the nudge.

NickS, thanks much, I was honored to receive such endorsements!


Lee A. Arnold 12.22.20 at 8:06 pm

I finished a piece of outsider intellectual art


nastywoman 12.22.20 at 11:46 pm

Well –
I – and ALL of my friends and family helped to get rid of the worst Racist Science Denying Idiot in our World.


John Quiggin 12.23.20 at 2:41 am

For lots of us, the most we can say is, like the Abbe Sieyes , j’ai vecu.

I have managed to write about a third of a book, some of which has been shared here. As with any book, there’s a lot of grind involved. But every now and then, I feel the thrill of discovering (what seems like) a new insight. My favorite for this year is probably this one



Alan White 12.23.20 at 5:39 am

Eszter–I adore your posts; their essential good is vital to CT.

I worked on an edited volume on free will for Wiley that (hope hope) will appear next year; I’m most proud though for learning enough plumbing to install a kitchen sink fixture and an entire vanity in my bathroom. And I still write poetry, one of which is about the latter accomplishment:


Oh I’d think the bath sink would dwarf
US male life expectancy, easily.
And all that rust around the spigots,
Countless shavings, brushings, washings,
Marred gerund remains of a Stevens’ quotidian.
Underneath I saw the same support of the kind
I saw under the kitchen sink, but Judaic mono-
Versus the Christian kitchen Trinitarianism.
The love of my life, when I suggested replacement
Said, “You need a vanity” citing storage,
Easy access to extra TP, which resonated
With my oops moments when the closet
Storage steps away embarrassed my memory
Stuck on the spot. So a vanity it would be.
I consulted the YouTube gods,
As reliable as their Greek precursors,
Good, bad, indifferent, with only
Human foible to gauge worship.
But a couple agreed that this old kind of sink,
Like my Trinitarian kitchen one, simply
Sat on supports strongly bolted into the wall,
And were mainly fixed otherwise by the plumbing.
So by faith I hacksawed through the feeder lines,
Unscrewed the drain fixtures and removed that,
And with great faith, lifted up on what I knew
Was a big hunk of cast iron covered in white,
And that damn thing lifted right off.
I knew what gods to praise then and there.
The rusty wall support’s five screws needed
My old impact driver from my motorcycle-repair days,
But came right off and just needed wall cleaning.
With vicegrips on the lines, I lefty-looseyed
Off the old wall valves, Tefloned on the new
Ones righty-tighty, aligned the new vanity bottom
And sink top to the wall, marking where
To drill in new heavy screws to hold them,
Drilled starters, fixed the vanity bottom to the wall,
Caulked the top sink onto the vanity and set two
Bolts into the wall to hold it, inserted the new
One-hole faucet through the top after
Tefloning the flexible steel hot/cold feeders
Onto it, threaded down the faucet tight,
Hooked up the feeders to the new valves,
And finally put in the new drain and p-hook
Flexible drain (no, not code but easy-peasy),
And no drips, praise Zeus.
Not my first vanity, as I look above it
Into the mirror at myself, horridly vain
From self-doubt since I first reflected at all,
But grateful enough for vanity,
Even this gleaming idol by my own hand,
Offering whatever amount of love left to me.


nastywoman 12.23.20 at 9:47 am

loved the kitchensinkpoetry –
which reminds me on my own –
much less accomplished –
(I tried this year)



Matt 12.23.20 at 11:13 am

I wrote a few things this year, but they won’t be published until 2021. But, I also took part in the “Talking Migration” series hosted by Clara Sandelind Stafford. Javier Hidalgo and I discussed the question of whether there is an obligation to obey immigration laws on it. (I might say, “when is there an obligation to obey immigration laws?”) For anyone interested the pod cast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/user-223351495/41-must-immigration-laws-be-obeyed

My contribution builds on the piece I’d published in very late 2019 (or, perhaps, early 2020, if we want to go by “official” publication dates) in the Blackwell Philosophy Compass on enforcing immigration law. See here: https://philpapers.org/rec/LISEIL

I had not done a pod cast before (and, frankly, don’t normally enjoy listening to them) but was very pleased to do this one, and was grateful to Clara for the invite and to her and Javier for the discussion.


Shimon Edelman 12.23.20 at 2:44 pm

I had a new book published: Life, Death, and Other Inconvenient Truths: A Realist’s View of the Human Condition (MIT Press / Penguin Random, 2020). It consists of 38 short chapters, each accompanied by a list of suggested readings and viewings, as well as by extensive endnotes with links to primary literature. An executive summary is here — check it out if you like rhyming, easy-to-memorize executive lore.


Eszter Hargittai 12.23.20 at 3:00 pm

Loving all the poetic creativity on here (and videos!). Thanks so much for sharing all this!


annus horribilis 12.24.20 at 4:35 pm

I finished and submitted a book on giant Antarctic icebergs, their drift, seismicity, and disintegration, and the forthcoming collapse of West Antarctica to a university press. Right now I’m in the limbo between acceptance and rejection. Call me Schrödinger’s penguin.


ffrancis 12.24.20 at 4:49 pm

I made a few poems, of which this is the latest

Some days the poetry of life
Descends the scale to doggerel verse
And makes it seem the universe
Is filled with naught but senseless strife:

The past is dark, the present grey;
The future stretches bleak ahead,
All pleasure gone, all colour fled:
Bare survival day to day.

And then the gleam of sun returns;
A sparkle in a stranger’s eye,
A silly joke, a play on words,
And now the fire brighter burns,
Rhythm rises to the sky
Like flights of irridescent birds.


LFC 12.24.20 at 10:42 pm

For a variety of reasons, I didn’t have a very productive 2020, even by own rather meager (for lack of a better word) standards, so nothing really of much consequence to report.

p.s. I did a review of A. Getachew’s Worldmaking after Empire that appeared at the S-USIH blog in December 2019, but I guess that doesn’t count for these purposes because it didn’t fall in 2020. The book was very widely reviewed, so my review got lost in the shuffle anyway, I’d say. Afaict a Google search doesn’t even seem to bring it up in the first 25 or 30 or so entries, possibly b.c it’s titled in a way that doesn’t obviously indicate it’s a review.


Neville Morley 12.26.20 at 8:39 am

This is a “we created” rather than an “I created” thing, which was the whole point of the exercise: back in February, in those mythical days when we could meet other people and go to the theatre, I spent a intense week of workshopping and rehearsal with a group of actors and creative types, exploring how Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue might be presented in different ways as drama. It ended up in somewhere utterly unexpected, which was the idea. Phase 2 of the project is on hold until we work out how to shift things online effectively…



Stirling Edgewood 12.26.20 at 8:43 pm

I started a blog with some short stories, a novella, and the beginning chapters of a novel. It is here:


Ingrid Robeyns 12.26.20 at 11:39 pm

I did almost zero new research (my year was unfortunately not only damaged by the pandemic but also by a largely wasted year in the office), but to my own surprise I managed to get three papers across the line from R&R to accepted. So that was good, but not very creative. I suppose I took most pleasure in this one or two pages I wrote for a companion magazine that came out together with WWF’s Living Planet Report: https://livingplanet.panda.org/voices-for-living-planet – which reflects my current state of thinking about what we should do, as persons, about climate change: https://livingplanet.panda.org/voices/rising-up-citizens-must-unite-and-act

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