I don't know whether it's a result of all the Wrath beta news coming out lately, but it seems to me that we're already experiencing a resurgence of players around the expansion. Burning Crusade brought a lot of players back to the game, and it seems like things have started early for the next expansion -- people are returning to level their alts, get their epic mount dailies done, level up their professions, and just generally get back into the mix of things.
And Thompson's piece is really about grinding -- like "obedient workers in a Soviet collective," he says, we return to mindlessly killing boars, or ravagers, or Ethereals, or whatever else it is we need to hit that next level of experience or reputation or profession. Why? Because we're rewarded for it. Increasingly, we live in a world where time invested doesn't always equal reward returned. But while grinding in a game like WoW, it always, always does, and that's why we love it so much.