The blog portion of this Web site, which was begun in 2000, way back around the time of Vent #202, now contains no fewer than fifty categories, some with maybe a dozen posts, others with a thousand or more. (There's a database break in September 2006, so the current numbers must be added to the previous numbers to present the full picture.) I don't know how many categories WordPress (or Movable Type, which I used between 2002 and 2006) will support, but I'm reasonably certain it's more than fifty.

The trouble with having this many categories, though, is that readers might presume from the breadth of offerings that I'm some sort of polymath, a true Renaissance man, a generalist in the age of specialization, and I suspect I fall rather short of the qualifications. Which is one reason why the actual category titles are somewhat lacking in specificity: cultural phenomena that don't really fall elsewhere, for instance, are heaped into a pile called "Almost Yogurt," a title which makes no sense unless you invoke multiple definitions of "culture." The one truly "miscellaneous" category is "Dyssynergy," which is a coinage intended to mean the opposite of "synergy," although the technical opposite of "synergy" is more likely to be "antagonism."

More specialized categories, such as "Rag Trade," which deals with clothing, and "Birthday Suitable," which deals with the deliberate lack of same, hint at some level of expertise when they're really nothing more than areas of interest. I admit to having a wider-than-normal collection of interests, but given a fixed volume, extra width implies reduced depth.

(Aside: Is volume truly fixed? I'm not sure. I am certainly limited in the things I can write about by the number of hours in a day and the fact that I have to spend some of them earning my keep.)

So maybe I'm shallow. (I've been known to joke — at least, I think it's a joke — that were I any shallower, I'd be bas-relief.) On the other hand, specialization has its drawbacks: I'd hate to be in a position where I know more and more about less and less, until eventually I know everything about nothing.

But maybe my level of self-criticism is a bit on the high side of useful. After all, in those eight years of daily bloggage I've managed to come up with more than eleven thousand posts (and 407 Vents beyond those first 202), and I am assured by the readership that some of it has actually been read. And there are a few areas where I can claim at least some level of expertise, though they are few and far between.

On a possibly-unrelated note, I'm now occasionally fielding questions at Yahoo! Answers. I don't know how brilliant I sound, but of my first eight answers, two were voted Best. I'm trying to convince myself that this actually means something. And I'm trying to stay within areas where I actually think I know something, a practice that seems to be more honored in the breach.

The Vent

#609
  17 December
2008

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