*The Year in Ideas*: Informal audit of past issues

The New York Times Sunday Magazine asked me to reread through all the previous issues of their "The Year in Ideas" feature and write down my impressions.  The piece starts like this:

The editors asked Tyler Cowen, the economist who helps run the blog Marginal Revolution, to read the previous nine Ideas issues and send us his thoughts on which entries, with the benefit of hindsight, struck him as noteworthy. Do any ideas from this year’s issue look promising? “I recall reading the 2001 issue when it came out,” he says. “And I was hardly bowled over with excitement by thoughts of ‘Populist Editing.’ Now I use Wikipedia almost every day. The 2001 issue noted that, in its selection of items, ‘frivolous ideas are given the same prominence as weighty ones’; that is easiest to do when we still don’t know which are which.”

In the piece I select the best ideas, the most prescient picks, the most oversold, and so on.  The most "off" picks were:

2001: “The ‘X-Files’ Conspiracy Trope is Dead“, and 2001: “American Imperialism, Embraced”

This project was fun.  It was striking to me how many of the items in the series concerned information technology, how few concerned formal education, and how few of the non-internet items involved actual improvements in our living standards.


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