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Year in Graphs 2004

The new year is often time for reflection on where we have been and where we are going. Sometimes that reflection happens over a beer. Sometimes that reflection happens with a gun to your head. In fact, both occurred here at Industrial Memetics when Decius and Rattle forced us, their loyal employees, to look back on 2004 and consider the events that have shaped our lives.

We were all having a grand old time partying it up at the office until they rounded us up like they were going to make an announcement, only to tell us that we had to come up with the introduction to this year's "Year in Graphs". This is the result of that. We should have known something funny was happening when, instead of a Christmas Party, we had a New Year and Winter Solstice Holiday Event. We all thought it was some pathetic attempt to be all secular, politically correct, or at least misuse the venture capitol money. We were wrong.

At first, we were unable to recall any significant events this year that did not relate in some way to the American presidential election. Maybe we were just pissed that our New Years bash had turned out to be just more tireless work. Then we drank more, much more. Finally, someone said in an extremely slurred voice, "we gotta think globally," which immediately caused a discussion to start about the elections in the Ukraine. Just as Cron (the timely fellow who sweeps the floors at the office) began to cry, one of the guys in our Business Development group (ha!) went on a rant about how the elections in Afghanistan went well and how he thought it was an indication of how the elections in Iraq at the end of January would go. All of a sudden, a room full of mostly silent forlorn people burst into screaming and yelling. In a strange way, it turned into a microcosm of the US Election, all over again. There was screaming about events in Iraq... But way louder, drowning all that out, was screaming about value debates, culture wars, gay marriage, voter coercion, Abu Ghraib, Michael Moore, swift boat ads, 527 groups, and it just went on and on. Eventually things calmed down, or at least everyone started to tire out. Things became civil again.

People splintered off into smaller groups discussing where they thought it was all going or recounting some particular story that captured their attention. Darfur genocide. The September 11th report. The Russian school and Madrid train bombings. The deaths of Yasser Arafat and Ronald Reagan. The truth of Russian democracy and the world after the Cold War. Mother nature kicking Florida's ass and ending 2004 with a splash. Some made resolutions they were going to find better jobs as they watched Decius and Rattle sitting at opposite ends of the party eyeing everyone and being generally creepy.

The engineers were all talking to each other about technology crap, slightly more loudly then everyone else. The only thing I picked up on was "Blog" being said many times, and mention of tech gizmo after tech gizmo. I heard something about the Mars Rovers, something about magnetic strips, and something about The Beatles and a rapper. Whatever.

Eventually everyone started leaving. The most important thing to make note of, I thought, is that no one left alone. Everyone left in a group, even if it was only two people. Then there was me. Just Decius, Rattle, and myself. I must admit, this is quite intimidating. I've never been in a situation like I am right now. Just the two of them, lording over me, correcting my spelling and making suggestions. I've never dealt with either of them alone, let alone the two of them together. These things just don't happen with you and the executives of your company. God, I have a headache. The wine is wearing off... I want to go home! Rattle just chambered a round. I have to finish this...

At the end of 2003 we posted a website called The Year in Graphs. It chronicled the discussions on MemeStreams, and the reputation capital exchanged, week by week throughout the year. Its a useful tool that enables us to survey a years worth of thoughts and stories with a few minutes of surfing. It was decided to turn The Year in Graphs into a tradition.

For each week of 2004, we provide a graph of that week's social network activity, the most popular discussions, and the most popular users. Every link between people in the graphs represents at least one blog entry that was read and re-recommended; hence propagated further through the network. The arrows point to sources; they represent the flow of reputation. The users in each graph are those whose memes were re-recommended in the preceding two weeks. Users are colored depending on their popularity that week, with the highest scores getting the brightest colors. Links are only mapped for memes posted on a user's MemeStream. Replies in threads are not graphed.

Be sure to check out The Year in Graphs for 2003. If you have any comments, please share them with us in this URL's discussion thread.

Happy New Year.

Week #1: Jan 1 - Jan 7
The Feds have too much power and the Mini iPod doesn't
Week #2: Jan 8 - Jan 14
Goodbye Brad, you will be missed
Week #3: Jan 15 - Jan 21
DougZ and The Year In Graphs both make their Internet debut
Week #4: Jan 22 - Jan 28
You are White, Patriot Act under Attack, no WMD

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