Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Blog retrospective

This blog is now officially archived because I'm moving on to other things (including a new blog, which I launched at the end of 2015). However, I thought it would be good to do one final post here to wrap things up - and to encourage anyone thinking about blogging to give it a go. I've not exactly set the world alight with the stuff on here, but quite a few people have found it useful and it's led to some very interesting work. Someone once even said they were a 'big fan'. Anyway, back in 2007 when I was a Research Associate at the University of Manchester, my colleague and car-sharing partner Alex Hardman encouraged me to start blogging. So I did, and here I am eight years later. It wouldn't be undertheraedar without a map, so here's one showing page views by country (click all images to enlarge).

The United States was going to overtake the UK, so I had to stop.

The blog has led to collaboration with people like Simon Rogers at Google - previously with The Guardian and Twitter, and led to lots of media contacts, news stories and idea-sharing with other academics. It's also enabled me to get some of the findings from my academic papers out to a wider audience - which is partly why I began writing it in the first place. But which posts have been the most popular? Well, that's an interesting story and here's a little chart showing the top ten - including a major outlier at number one.

Note to self - write stuff about London on new blog

Twitter obviously helped a lot. Alex Hardman also encouraged me to get on Twitter early, so I signed up almost straight away but just couldn't get it so abandoned it and came back to it relatively late, in July 2011. You can kind of see how my blog traffic developed since then in this line graph, which peaked at over 13,000 page views in October 2015.

Peaks and troughs, but reasonable level of growth over time

Where did my traffic come from? A typically eclectic range of sources but a lot from Google. You can see this in the Referring URLs and Referring Sites charts below. 

Am I big in Wisconsin?

What about the tech battles? The battle of the browsers? You can see from the data below that Chrome wins the browser war, Windows wins the operating system war and that 596 page views came from Unix. 

William Playfair invented the pie chart in 1801

Total page views all time? 403,984 (as of 2 Sept 2016), but of course there are all sorts of views on the accuracy of blogger stats vs Google Analytics, which normally come out with lower figures (often around half). But even if it was just 300,000 bots viewing my pages, I know for sure some actual humans looked at my posts because they told me, so that makes it worthwhile. 

In a world where an academic paper with 50 citations is quite a big deal, getting a few hundred thousand page views is a nice way to make you feel like you can reach a wider audience. Some people may not like some of the stuff I posted and some of it is - looking back - slightly embarrassing but then that's all part of the learning experience. 

If you've followed this site, or just looked once, thanks for taking an interest. I'll be back with new stuff - and more maps and stats - in the new year (or possibly before). If you're thinking about blogging, give it a bash. It can be hard to keep publishing content but I've found it really worthwhile.

Alasdair Rae
1 December 2015
(updated 2 September 2016)