Looking forward to Howard County blogging in 2011

In my previous post I reviewed my Howard County-related blog posts in 2010. Now it’s time for a sneak preview of 2011.

First, I will definitely continue doing Howard County blogging in the coming year (though I can’t guarantee any particular frequency), if for no other reason than to be able to go to local blogger events and not shame myself as a lazy imposter. The size of my audience is irrelevant, as I’m taking the advice of Nathan Marz: you should blog even if you have no readers. In particular I’m a big fan of learning by writing, so I’ll probably be doing a fair amount of blogging where I’ll have no idea what I’m talking about at the beginning of a post (but hopefully not by the end).

I already have a lot of blog post topics I’d like to address in 2011, and rather than keeping them to myself I thought I’d write them down here as a way of encouraging myself to get them done. Here’s some of the posts you can look forward to seeing from me this year (or not, as the case may be):

  • The conclusion of my series on Howard County Council redistricting. I plan on covering the redistricting efforts after both the 1990 and 2000 censuses, along with a wrap-up and look forward to the next redistricting effort. Finishing this series will be my top priority.
  • A final post in my series on using R to analyze Howard County election data, as promised in part 4 of that series. I’ll be trying other techniques to estimate the relative fractions of Democratic, Republican, and independent voters in the 2010 general election. I don’t know right now exactly how I’ll go about doing that, but I need to get cracking in order to finish this before the final election results (including turnout data) are released.
  • A series on Howard County and the 21st century global economy. After being so pessimistic in my series on Howard County’s pretensions to be the next Silicon Valley, I thought it was incumbent on me to offer a more positive vision—though I’m having trouble convincing myself that the vision I’ve come up with is actually realistic. I guess we’ll see.
  • A series on Howard County and religion in the 21st century. The role of religion in America is an important topic, and a potentially controversial one. (See for example the comment threads on HoCo Rising’s posts on Islam.) Plus Robert Putnam has a new book out (American Grace) with lots of interesting and relevant survey data. What’s not to like?
  • A series on Howard County and education in the 21st century. Like religion, a topic both important and controversial. The trick here will be to find a coherent theme.
  • A series on Howard County government that focuses on gov 2.0 possibilities. (I hate this term, but for better or worse it’s the one in common use for this sort of thing.)
  • A more in-depth look at Howard County population growth over the past fifty years, with a detailed breakdown of growth in individual census tracts. In doing my council redistricting series one of the things that’s really impressed itself upon me is the extent to which the rapid growth of Columbia impacted Howard County. It would be fun to explore that in more detail, possibly with some visualizations.
  • Random posts on Census 2010 data for Howard County. One approach here would be to go back and do follow-ups on my previous posts based on the latest census data. I’m particularly interested in seeing the census data on same-sex partners, which is new with the 2010 census.
  • It’s not directly Howard County-related, but I’d like to do at least two more posts in my why government? series, one focusing on government regulation (really, rulesets in general) and one focusing on government and the promotion of social justice.
  • This is also not directly related to Howard County, but is Maryland-related: A post on the state’s legal restrictions on direct-to-consumer genetic testing as offered by 23andMe and similar companies. As genetic testing becomes ever cheaper (and especially as we enter the era of sub-$1,000 genome sequencing) I predict this is going to become a major issue, somewhat analogous to direct shipping in its pitting of sophisticated consumers against government paternalism and incumbent special interests.

Note that the post ideas above are offered free for the taking if anyone else wants to try their hand at them. I have no proprietary interest in the topics, I’d just like to see someone post on them, and I’ll try to do it if no one else will. Also, if you have particular posts above that you’d most like to see, or ideas for other blog posts, please let me know.

Like HoCo Rising, I’m also planning to do some Howard County stuff beyond just blogging, in my case probably one or more of the projects I mentioned in my post on preserving Howard County history in digital form. In particular I’m going to try to track down and get online some of the key historical documents related to council redistricting, and also may try to find and publish online some historical voter and election data that might be relevant to the next redistricting effort.

If I’m really ambitious and can find other people who share this interest and want to help, it might be fun to try putting together a public web site for do it yourself council redistricting, leveraging whatever historical data and materials I can collect together with some of the open source redistricting software other people are developing (e.g., from the Public Mapping Project or others).

Anyway, this is what I plan doing in 2011. If I can get even half of it done I’ll count the year a success.