Monday, January 3, 2011
Time for the quarterly review of how the blog is coming along. The above shows the overall visit stats from Sitemeter - I've switched to my own Excel graph since the earliest months have now fallen off Sitemeter's 12 month view.
The surface impression is that the stats, after growing sharply in the first 6 months, leveled off. However, I think that's a little misleading. My sense is that readership stats divide into two categories - what one might call "regular" and "temporary". Regular readers show up habitually most of the time with the intention of reading this blog. Temporary readers come in because someone/somewhere else linked to a particular post here and they came over to read it. Temporary readership is very spiky, fluctuating wildly depending on who links to me, and how prominently. My sense is that the regular readership was running about 400 visits/workday back in May, but that was boosted by a big series of temporary spikes, mostly driven by a single post: Odds of Cooking the Grandkids. By November/December, the regular readership is up to about 600 visits/workday when no-one is linking. It goes down on weekends and holidays, and up when there are inbound links. Obviously, it's nice to have a "hit" post, but I'm certainly not able to predict in advance when that will happen, and other things being equal, I'd rather have a regular readership.
This quarter was also when I passed the 100 mark in Google followers, so that was nice.
So quantitatively, I think the story is a little more one of steady growth than the stats show, albeit slower than in the first six months (which is only to be expected).
I will say that personally, the blog felt like a bit more of a struggle this quarter. It works best when I find something to write about that ignites my personal passion - it's directly more satisfying for me that way, but also readers and other bloggers, being human, respond to the emotion too. If you look at a blogging superstar like Andrew Sullivan, he is pretty much in a permanent state of high passion about something or other. But, I can't/won't fake that, and it was a little trickier to find subjects that did that this quarter (with the Future of Drought series being a notable exception). I'm still thinking about that - possibly it just is a natural fluctuation, but it may also mean that it's necessary to shift the way I blog somehow - we'll see. I imagine the blog will need to shift and grow over time - since certainly I have every intention of trying to continue to grow as a person, and the blog will have to reflect that.
There are two possibilities that I think about here.
One is that, scratch me hard enough on the subject of "Risks to Global Civilization" and deep down I will still bleed cyberwar. If the lights ever go out and don't come back on, IMO the reasons will most likely be cyber-attack related. And yet I barely talk about it on this blog. There are two reasons. One is that it's slightly awkward from a COI perspective with my obligations at work, (lots of confidential things that I know but couldn't talk about, as well as the fact that the marketing interests of any particular employer and the demands of authenticity and integrity on a blog will never align perfectly). But really, that could be worked around (see Schneier, Bruce for a good example) and the real reasons are personal and emotional - I got very badly burned a few years back for following my heart on those issues, and I haven't really recovered my passion for the subject.
The other is that a lot of my spare time now is, and will be, going on projects up at the farm. It would be fun, for me, to write about that more. But the audience that wants to know about global oil production stats and the audience that wants to talk about how to replace missing braces in a timber-frame barn are probably not the same. One possibility would be to borrow the strategy of Ran Prieur who has a separate landblog where he talks about his doings on his land. I'm just not sure I could maintain two semi-linked blogs to an adequate quality without it eating my life completely.
I'll keep thinking about it.
Of course, at a personal level, 2010 has been a huge transition year for me. I've commented extensively on that elsewhere (1, 2, 3), and I don't have much more to say at present except to say that I'm extremely thankful that such a large transition has gone as well as it has. I feel a good deal happier, and more integral, than I did at the outset of 2010. I'm sort of hoping that 2011 will be a little more about consolidating the gains...