22 December 2013

And now we are six


A. A. Milne used the title first, in 1927.  Now it's our turn, because today TYWKIWDBI celebrates its sixth birthday, so I will use this "blogiversary" to engage in a bit of omphaloskepsis.

My own personal sixth year was quite memorable - I was one of over 50,000 unwilling participants in the huge polio epidemic of 1952.  After prolonged instituionalization and rehabilitation at the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, I was discharged ambulatory on my "sticks" in time to see a classic satin-bedecked (and satin-bearded) Santa Claus.  I should think that in that December of 1952 the future must have looked bright and limitless (and endless).

Now it's my blog that's six years old, and the blogiversary provides a stimulus to muse about the future of this vehicle.  Jason Kottke, one of the doyens of blogging, has just done the same thing, in an op-ed piece for the Nieman Journalism Lab. In his view the blogosphere has changed and the traditional blog is on its way out:
Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.

Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids...

The primary mode for the distribution of links has moved from the loosely connected network of blogs to tightly integrated services like Facebook and Twitter. If you look at the incoming referers to a site like BuzzFeed, you’ll see tons of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Pinterest but not a whole lot from blogs, even in the aggregate...

Over the past 16 years, the blog format has evolved, had social grafted onto it, and mutated into Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and those new species have now taken over. No biggie, that’s how technology and culture work.
More at the link, and at this followup companion piece, via BoingBoing.

TYWKIWDBI is also changing slowly.  By the end of the year, this blog will have accumulated about 14 million pageviews of about 12,000 posts, but as I look at the metrics, it's obvious that the traffic is decreasing -



- in part I believe because more viewers are accessing the material via RSS feeds, but also because my own productivity (in terms of number of posts) has decreased each year since the peak in 2009.   The numbers at the right come from the archive in the blog's sidebar; this year's posts will total fewer than half the number from five years ago.

The drop in traffic actually doesn't distress me, because I derive no income from the blog, so I reflexly (and repeatedly) dismiss offers to "trade traffic." Visitors and viewers are important and relevant to me only insofar as they contribute to the content of the blog, via informed comments and interesting personal observations, and I am recurrently amazed by the variety of expertise and insight that readers here bring to the table.  I'm always delighted when a previously silent "lurker" pops up to offer a piece of information or a viewpoint that had never occurred to me.  That feedback reinforces my motto that "you learn something every day."

For the near future, this particular blog will soldier on.  Subject material is not (and never has been) a problem - the links I have saved in my "for the blog" folders now total over a thousand - which is quite ridiculous, of course.  Time is the only limiting factor.  I enter 2014 in good health and spirits; family responsibilities, including an elderly demented parent will require some time commitment but will also keep me near home and the computer.  I may or may not incorporate some new themes after the "show us your bookcase" series fades out. 

Today I will celebrate the blogiversary by stepping out the door to be greeted by 6-8" of snow newly fallen overnight on top of the ice from yesterday's freezing rain, which I will dutifully clear from the driveway and sidewalk.  Those of you who reside in subtropical climes don't realize how much you've missed out on the character-building experiences of the sometimes-frozen North.


32 comments:

  1. I'm glad you'll still be around!

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  2. Happy Blogiversary.

    I'm glad you're planning to continue the blog as I really enjoy the wide range of subjects on your blog and the variety of comments found here. Thanks for all your time and effort in making this happen.

    Some of us now residing in sub-tropical climes vividly remember shoveling off sidewalks and driveways with the old, heavy coal shovels (really dating myself here.) The advent of aluminium snow shovels was a vast improvement. I escaped the snow before the wide use of snow removal equipment geared for homeowners, so I really enjoy watching all of you northern folks benefiting from new technology. :)

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  3. Just to say it's been a pleasure to read the blog over the past few years; as varied and consistently fascinating as any that I've read. Thank you for putting the work in.

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  4. What a lovely and thoughtful entry. Thank you for sharing with us!

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  5. I'm not sure just how early in your blog's history it was when I first delved, and learned something new. But ever since, i've read every post and been given a window into a heap of new things. I have truly enjoyed it, and wish to thank you for all the time and care you've put into it.
    I read Kottke too, his words caused me to think of all the blogs I've read over the years, many of which have been discontinued.
    My own blog has followed a similar trend, on a much smaller scale. And I'm reminded that I'm approaching a blogiversary too. I wrote my first blog post on the 26th december, 2006, in response to a blog post I commented on.
    I was in northern England, suffering through the 'flu over the christmas holiday season. I was reading blogs, which were keeping me from the desperate ennui. And I wanted to comment on a blog which had given me good poetry, thoughtful words, beautiful pictures. I just wanted to say "Thank You, from a random stranger who found a respite from his sickness and misery"
    but, perhaps a bit confused by the comments refusing to accept anonymous, I thought I needed a blogger i.d.. So I signed up. And having a blogger i.d., I decided to try write a blog post. I had no idea where it would lead.
    But on the 14th october this year I flew from England to Texas, and on the 24th October I married that blogger, she who posted poems.
    So blogs can change lives, mine's been a bit sparse for a while, but your words remind me that I should find time to post again.

    I'm writing from Texas. Not Yorkshire, where this thing all started for me. It's warm and sunny. Last year I was starting my days by snow-clearing and grit-spreading. This morning I'm turning the aircon up on the car, because it's too warm.

    One of my tasks today in the internet world, is to ask where the red sand came from, this morning, all over the cars. Thunderstorms yesterday, tornadoes rolling up into the midwest.
    The sand occurred overnight in the tail end of the storms, sunshine in the morning, humid.
    In britain, the source of storm-brought sand is usually the sahara, but where's the origin for Texas? that's the sort of thing I bet you'd already know.

    Once more, thank you for the blogging, a constant source of interest, and I wish you and yours all the best for the future.

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    1. It was your Grit in the Gears that gave me the link for my post about Malian music. And a couple others, as I recall.

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  6. Happy blogiversary!

    I'm not in a sub-tropical place, merely temperate. We never have snow, so I've never seen a machine like the one you are using to clear the snow. I hadn't realised such things existed - although now I think about it, it is obvious that they would. So I've learned something today, thank you!

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  7. yep. i read you in rss. onlyest time i click through to the site is if i comment.

    and thanks for it all.

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  8. I learn something every time I click on your/my bookmark, keep it up man...... snowblowers are somewhat useless to me in Red Lodge..... it's either too much or too little it seems, I like the too much part as we've had well over 100" since October, mostly in = or >2' snow storms (some with some rain at first)! Took the wife to work via snow machine one day.......--Ty

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  9. Happy Blogiversary and many, many more to come!

    The diversity I find in your blog has kept me entertained and challenged for many enjoyed hours. Please continue to share your discoveries and your thoughts with us for many more years!

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  10. I am one of those faithfully reading (nearly) every post and not counting in your page views since I access by RSS. So I'm popping in to say hello and thanks for sticking around!

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  11. As a dedicated lurker I wish to thank you for continuing your blog. Your faithful readers find the world bigger and richer thanks to your curiosity and hard work.

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  12. I had already read the Kottke piece; it's good that you excerpted it here. I'm heading into my 10th year blogging and my readership trends seem to mirror yours. The downward trends on my blog readership seem to have stabilized about two years ago (at about an order of magnitude less than yours.) I pick up a fair amount of traffic from FB and a little from Tumblr and Twitter, even from some specialty sites like Polyvore. I guess it really doesn't matter where it comes from. There were blogs ten years ago which were very Tumblr like, and even some that were almost like Twitter. FB and Tumblr aren't really searchable, which will probably limit their "long tail" exposure—I still get many hits from posts that are eight or nine years old, while some of my friends on FB have difficulty finding something they posted eight or nine days ago! You seemed to have struck a "sweet spot" with TYWKIWDBI with a balance of images and text.

    A big thank you for all that you've done, I 'm hoping that you will continue with your efforts in this "dead" medium.

    Your work is appreciated.

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  13. Happy Blogiversary (I see this term is used) and Happy New Year while we're on that. I think yours is the only blog I've been constantly following for some four years now, and I learn something everyday from it :) Hope TYWKIWDBI will be around for many more years to come.

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  14. Happy Blogiversary! I guess I've been with you since almost the beginning. Yours is the first of three blogs I hit in my morning surfing session, as I drink my first cup of coffee and get myself awake.

    I set up my blog a few months after you, but have only recently really started to post regularly, so while you have THOUSANDS of posts, I am only just now approaching one hundred.

    Thanks for all your wonderful posts and your very good example.

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  15. I am a happy lurker, too. Read every post and enjoy the variety. Living in upstate NY, I see neighbors and my husband using snowblowers to clear driveways and sidewalks. He clears paths for the dog in the yard, too.
    6 years old...I had rheumatic fever. Homeschooled for most of the winter. If I finished my work, the visiting tutor would help me make a stand up animal from construction paper. I had a menagerie by the time I returned to public school.

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  16. Stan -- I'm pleased to consider tywkiwdbi as a companion and extension to my bookcases. Thanks
    for every one of your posts.

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  17. Jerry in and out of DallasDecember 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    From a contemporary who remembers the polio years ... and that enormous hypodermic syringe of Salk vaccine!

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  18. Enjoyed reading your perspective on why traffic has dropped.I enjoy reading the different sources/perspectives of information you provide. I religiously look forward to reading your new posts during my lunch hour. Your snowblower looks very familiar currently I'm lucky I have a 24-year-old son who utilizes mine.
    I wish you and your family a joyous and happy Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.

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  19. Another faithful lurker checking in to say Happy blogiversary (or whatever) and Merry Christmas. I love reading about all the interesting things you find for us. This blog is a gem because of all the work you put into it, so thank you. <3

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  20. Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2014, Minnesotastan! You're STILL one of the best, even after all these years. Thanks for all you do.

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  21. I follow a handful of blogs that I check daily in the old fashion way (through my Favorites links). They are ranked in order of my interest and Tywkiwdbi has always been in the top position. I miss you during every hiatus and eagerly await your return. Please keep it up!

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  22. Another super-lurker here. I've loved your blog since finding it (via boingboing) about 3 years ago. You've got just the right mix of obscure/eclectic but interesting material to keep me coming back once or twice a week. Looking forward to 2014's new crop of animals, minerals and vegetables (oh, and human skin bound tomes). :)

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  23. Happy Blogiversary! Thanks for all the great posts!

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  24. I am one of the many lurkers delurking to say happy blogiversary. I greatly enjoy visiting your blog and following you down the internet rabbit hole.

    I have been blogging since 1999 (!), first on diaryland, now on blogger. I'll continue long after it stops being trendy simply because it's my way of chronicling my life, was not ever meant to be for anyone but me. But at the same time, I've (sometimes, not always) enjoyed the strange feeling of having my own personal journal be open to the public. Who knew it would go on even this long?

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    1. Interesting art work at your blog. Thanks, Rosa.

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  25. Congratulations, Stan!

    Six years? That short a time? I'm stunned to find that I've been following TYWKIWDBI almost from its beginning—maybe five years now. I've never grown tired of it. You've done great work and created something of which you can be quite proud.

    I started blogging myself only a couple of years ago as an outlet for whenever I got stuck or tired of writing stories. I don't think my total output measures up to even just one week of your output!

    As far as folks declaring the "death" of blogging, I beg to differ on that point. If anything, I feel in is evolving. I think that readers are becoming more discriminating in their tastes. While anyone can start a blog, the ones that will continue to be followed are those who present interesting and engaging material in a professional manner for their readers. Bloggers who present bulls••t with no fact checking, will fall by the wayside and become ignored.

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  26. I too lurk frequently and rarely comment on the many blogs I follow. To me, there is value in curation and the time you spend curating the topical areas (ie nature, photography) is much appreciated. I have enjoyed your blog very much over the past four years and hope that you will continue.

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  27. Congratulations! I am a devoted follower of your blog, but I don't show up in your traffic count because I use the DoNotTrackMe app for google chrome. I really appreciate your insightful posts and want to thank you for the effort that you have put into this site.

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  28. I'm so glad to see lots of comments on this post! I just love your blog, but I'm one of those RSS folks that "don't count" ;) When google reader was still around, they had a Next button for the toolbar, which took me directly to the sites, and I did count, and commented more often, for that matter. Now that I use feedly, I don't have the option. Anyhoo, thanks for blogging still!

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  29. Happy Blogiversary, and may you have many more! Thank you for compiling one of the most diverse and interesting sites on the Internet. I visit every day, and have almost since the beginning. Let's hope the death of the blog has been greatly exaggerated. Happy New Year, too!

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  30. Congratulations, Stan! Happy Blogiversary and happy holidays. Long-time lurker and first time commenter, I can say that I am always eagerly awaiting your posts. Makes my internet surfing much more productive and interesting!

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