Today’s post is number 1,000.
That’s one thousand individual blog posts over the past seven+ years.
What does this milestone number mean?
We can look at it through stats.
One thousand posts consist of 620,334 words, according to the WP Word Count plugin. That number really surprises me. It’s like an armful of books. I didn’t think I’d written so much.
In fact, some of my posts are article length. The longest one, a long keynote speech transcription, tops out at 4,445 words. The others include a long political-historical rumination, one really extended book review, and another interminable book brooding. So my thinking about books or talking about the future of education really triggers an epic word count.
These posts aren’t as frequent as I like. 1,000 items over a little more than seven years amounts to about .4 posts/day. Lately I’ve been aiming for one post per business day, or five per week.
Looked at in terms of popularity, here are my top ten posts of all time, based on how many of you clicked on them:
That’s a weird and illuminating glimpse into what you all like. Demographics, sociology, personal health, professional development (the NMC and FOECast), and the Future Trends Forum – my peak education idea looms large behind some of these, as do some of my grimmer futures thoughts. Actually, the Forum link isn’t to a blog post, but an information page, in WordPressspeak, so if I set that one aside, the 10th most popular post of all time here is my call to kill bad webinars.
Tech doesn’t loom large at the top, despite my professional focus on technology. Instead it’s social trends people really hunt for when they click here.
Comments: as of this morning you fine people have written 6,223 responses in posts’ comment boxes. That’s about 6+ per post on average, although the reality ranges quite a bit. Non-statistically, your comments delight me. I learn so much, and am grateful to your expressions of support and humor. They – and you – mean a lot to me.
How do people find this blog? Some readers and respondents arrive here through other platforms. The Jetpack plugin tells me this:
Search Engines 14,983
After that, numbers trail off rapidly. So search engines (i.e., Google, responsible for 14,096 of that 14,983 total, about 94%) are by far the key way in. People hunt for keywords and topics, as ever. Since I’m writing on the open web, Google indexes this content, and thus connections are made. Social media isn’t the main way people discover this social media instance.
Twitter is a distant second on this list, a bit lower than I expected, given my frequent activity there. It might be that people are less likely to follow links, fearing bots. Or it could be that a good number of my Twitter followers also read this blog directly. Facebook is, in contrast, a little higher than I would have guessed. FB tends to hide posts with links, so my new hack around that seems to be working*. LinkedIn is a very distant fourth; I’m not sure who finds my blog through there.
Speaking of which, we can view this blog as a node intersecting with the rest of the digital world. That’s how I see it, not in isolation, but as one part of a broader digital network, including open, semi-open, and closed domains.
Here’s what the splendid Vanessa Vaile wrote on Facebook a few days back:
I often post idea fragments or questions on other sites, including Facebook, Twitter, G+, and LinkedIn. Sometimes people respond, and that helps me hone my thinking, which then finds its way into blog posts. It’s like walking down an office corridor, stopping to chat with friends and colleagues about a brainstorm, shaping and reshaping ideas, before I stride to my own office to write.
Richer media plays a smaller role. I listen to a lot of podcasts, but they tend to play out in the background of my thinking. Since most podcasts aren’t interactive – i.e., their web presence doesn’t allow comments, or they are stuck in anti-social tombs like iTunes or Stitcher – I don’t actually watch a lot of blog-related content on YouTube – when I do, I link and embed it here. I don’t comment much on YouTube.
In fact, sometimes the inter-site networking doesn’t do much. My Future Trends Forum posts here rarely elicit comments or links; instead, our email distribution list is where people prefer to get information, plus some Twitter activity.
Linking to other people’s blogs used to form conversations, back in the day, especially with pingbacks. I find this to be happening less often now. I still comment on other blogs.
So: this blog is a node among a bigger network, with various and uneven information and discussion flows. In terms of my making or writing stuff, the blog is node central.
One of the reasons this blog works is because it’s on or in the open web. People can find all of its contents, including comments from other people, via search or links. No plugins are needed. No fees bar the door.
All of my experience suggests that open is good for the blog. Audiences often scan the blog to get a sense of who I am and what I do. Friends chime in, and some respondents become friends. Conversations blossom. Indeed, one blog post led to an Inside Higher Ed article which led to a book contract.
This experience is increasingly estranged from other parts of the web in 2018. Facebook is almost completely the opposite. It buries external links and makes internal URLs hard to find. The front page feed algorithm makes a mess of other people’s posts. At its best it’s like a chat room.
LinkedIn is a little better, but not much. The front page feed doesn’t work for me, and I rarely consult it. Pages display weirdly, crammed with tons of microcontent. Conversations are few in incidence and number of comments, but when they do happen, quality tends to be high.
My experience of Twitter is a better still. So far I rarely get hit by spam or bots, and have largely escaped abuse. Individual tweets’ URLs are stable and accessible, unless someone deletes a post. I read through Tweetdeck, which includes a Moria’s worth of columns based on curated lists and several searches.
Google+ now acts like a blog platform with a discussion forum attached. For the latter I follow and contribute to several groups productively. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much traffic, despite G+ paladin George Station’s heroic efforts.
Meanwhile, I continue to read RSS feeds, which are clear, nicely laid out, and readily save me time. Brian Barret called for us all to return to RSS and I agree. I’ve been reading more blogs and spending more time engaging with them.
In short, 1000 blog posts tells me I’ve been writing a ton of stuff about the future of education. That writing elicits social responses, and I weave the blog into the larger digital world. Open is key.
*That Facebook link hack: I post a leading question or provocative statement for a thread, then share a link on the first comment. It’s a bit messy, as some readers clearly don’t click the link. But it gets the stuff before more eyeballs.