Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Let's crunch the numbers, shall we?

Oh — they don't look good at all. Not at all.

— wait — ha! —got it upside down. So Embarrassing! — OK, here we go …

No, that doesn't help. Some of these numbers look all right, but the rest …

I've succumbed — to pride, hubris, what have you. I've fallen prey, and in desire have burned my fingers — the desire to know:

Who's reading my posts?

{Point of order: I don't know who's reading my posts, so worry not. Nor do I wanna know. Although nifty fact: Two people from the Isle of Man have read my posts (not sure how many times) or one person from the Isle of Man has read two posts, or maybe one post twice. Anyway, kudos to you and the Isle of Man for getting a separate distinction in the blogger.com™© toolbox of statistics available to its users.

{I still do not know anything more about you, Isle of Man dweller(s), other than that, and would not seek any more information. Unless you dropped me a note, of course; then we could talk. I love that your coat of arms is a triskelion of legs

{But I've lost the mooring of this post, so to speak …}

This is my 326th post — you're invited to the after-party this afternoon in the lobby — and I have to admit that every time I post a post, even though I'm writing to retard the regression of my own wits,  I check the counter blogger.com provides, the one that records in real time the number of views each one gets.

I'm doing so now, while you're reading. Creepy, right?

My closest equivalent is a stage mom pushing her trussed-up, gussied-up, tiara'd toddler onto the runway, then peeking from behind the curtain to see who oohs and ahhs and sniffles.

Through the course of days I'll refresh the counter, like leaving the kid out there long after the crowd has left and the lights have been doused and the crickets have come.

What's more pathetic, that fact or its revelation?

Over time I have been able to determine what topics generate the most views, and what the least.

I have not been able to determine what, if anything, to do about it.

When I first wrote a blog about my blog — a metablog! — a friend kindly sent to me the link to a site that would provide a comprehensive analysis of where and how my blog is being used. But I did not use it because I don't think it would tell me what I really wanted to know:

Did you enjoy reading it? Did you really read it, or just click on the link, quail at the wall or words, and resume your life? No judging here. I'm just curious.

Did I make you laugh or cry or retch? Sometimes you tell me, but most leave me to wonder.

Is there something you'd like me to write about? To stop writing about? Actually, the view counts tell that story.

I have gathered up all the posts and their data, and put them into groups. The bulk of my posts — comprising some of my artwork and backstory … rants about odd issues I care for … riffs on swimming and graphic design … is in the largest group. We'll just say the views for each number in the thousands and leave it at that. My ego's raw and exposed enough as it is.

Posts that got three times the average view count went into one small group (most popular). Posts with half the average views (least popular) into another. This post is about these posts. It's all very scientific.

Herewith, my executive summary, starting with the good news:

Put a logo in it: By far the most viewed post — twice as many as the next — is my declaration that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the best logo ever.

Second most popular was about my declaration that the U.S. Air Force symbol is the best military logo.
(Awkward aside, I realize after all this time I misspelled "division" in the blog title. Even my most ardent proofreader missed that.)
Lesson learned: People really like reading about logos, I guess. Maybe it's a marriage of the visual and computer culture. The Monterey Bay Aquarium post keeps amassing view counts over time, so I picture people Googling©™ "logo" and finding the post. I wrote 56 times about logos so far, the data show.

I like logos, like looking at good and bad logos, would love to read more about how certain logos were created. Every once in a while I'll write at length about logos that enrapture or incense or baffle me.

The one declaring my allegiance to my high school's logo proved popular, as did one about some sketch-logos, really, that I did for someone's fantasy football league long ago. Even a flitting logo for the U.S. Olympics got a lot of looks.

When I trashed the old Montreal Expos© logo, viewers flocked. Ditto for the impending horror of Office Depot®™ and Office Max's™© merger creating an even worse logo, which apparently hasn't happened (the logo, anyway). Even the worst slogan ever got lookie-loos. Folks like their graphic melodrama.

Lots and lots of views, to be sure, but almost no dialogue: Even when I challenged viewers to argue with my highly subjective logo rants and raves, none did.

Get personal … but not too personal: The first I noticed the potential ripple effect of my posts — beyond the usual number of viewers — was when I wrote about my great-uncles, five of whom served on the same ship when they survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. Word of the post went beyond that first circle of viewers, apparently, to relatives, to friends of the Fahlgren brothers who served during World War II, and suddenly the viewer count soared.

The same for when I processed my feelings over the death of a popular and highly regarded high school classmate, which attracted his wide circle of friends and acquaintances … and the death of my father-in-law, drawing a breadth of family and friends.

When I wrote follow-ups for each of these posts, the added interest had died down and viewership fell to usual levels.

Personal posts aren't a given, though. The story of Nancy and me beginning our lives together attracted many viewers, but the story of meeting a half-sister for the first time a couple of years ago, not nearly so many.

Go figure.

To swim or not to swim: Records show I have written 57 times about swimming, with good results. The 24-hour swim I participated in last week grabbed viewers quickly, as did my view on Diana Nyad, who crossed 108 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Fla. in a highly controversial swim.

My paean to a facebook©® page called "Did you swim today?" also attracted a great deal of viewers, many, I suspect, from the facebook®™ page.

Enough glowing and gloating. Now the bad news:

Do they know it's Christmastime?: Do not blog during the holidays, should be rule No. 1. Even if it's a heartfelt wish to any viewers out there in Viewer Land, the viewers are out there rightfully enjoying the holiday or viewing online gift sites, not my blog post. That's true year after year after year.

Even though I make it a habit to post twice a week, maybe I can lay off between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Take me out of the ballgame: Don't write about the San Francisco Giants®© (my team) either, is a fairly clear message. I wrote 36 times about the Giants in some form. Baseball is divisive (some say boring, but I don't listen to those critics), so I understand if only a subset view my Giants blogs, in bad times or good.

Although the oddest thing happened after writing about my first-ever ballgame, Giants vs. Cubs: A classmate from long ago and now far away, a physician on the opposite of the country, wrote me out of the blue about his first ballgame. So even though baseball views aren't big, they're worth the serendipitous nostalgia kick.


I figure I can:

1. Tag more — If I wanna drive traffic to the site, as the marketers say, I need to tag the hell out of each. Often I do. Sometimes I don't tag at all; sometimes I just want to release a post into the current and let it go where it will.

2. Tag each post with "logo," whether or not it's about logos. At least people will view each post, if that's really what I want.

3. Time releases for optimum viewership. I followed my son's advice and began releasing them in late morning Pacific Standard Time, rather than at the break of dawn. But finding the optimal time seems quixotic.

4. Market better. It's true this is a showcase for my artwork. It's also true I can't help writing about things. It's part chore, part organizer, part portfolio, part journal. I post a link to facebook and that's about it. Marketing remains a black science to me.
Some wags may whine that this whole post is just a transparent excuse to get viewers to read past posts, including my very first (also about swimming), which hasn't got a lot of viewers. To this accusation I say: well, yeah.
Or, I can stay the course and do what I've been doing.

You can guess my choice.

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