During February 2003 on diamond geezer I kept myself busy by counting things. Ten different counts, to be precise, in a none-too thrilling daily feature called The Count. My 28-day tally chart may have been deathly dull to the rest of you, but I've continued to count those categories again, every Februarysince, purely to keep tabs on how my life is changing. Ten years later, I think we can agree it's changed quite a bit, and yet not changed too. Below are my counts for February 2013 (also available in graphical form via Daytum), accompanied by the previous statistics and some deep, meaningful pondering.
Count 1 (Blog visitors): Blimey. That's (already) by far the highest number of visitors I've ever had in a February, and an increase of more than 25% on the total last year. I suspect I can blame, or more likely thank, the Olympics for this. Having the biggest show on earth at the bottom of the road helped to make a lot of what I had to say last summer widely relevant, and July and August 2012 were the busiest months this blog's ever had. A number of those people appear to have hung around, even when I'm not blathering about the Olympics, which is nice. Or maybe there's another reason for the visitor spike which is smartphones. Approximately 20% of my visitors are from smartphones, and ease of mobile access anywhere, any time, might help to explain the increased viewing figures. I can't believe it's writing about trips to Margate and Hatch End that keeps you coming back. Estimated total number of visits to this webpage in February 2013: 55369 Ten year review: Ten years ago, when this blog was mere months old, I attracted one double-decker busful of readers a day. That leapt up a bit in the following years, with an atypical peak in February 2006 skewed by external linkage. Numbers have bobbed around a bit since, but almost always upwards, and this February's total is the equivalent of three crowded Bakerloo line trains of readers daily. That's still bugger all compared to the population of London, and peanuts compared to what some blogs get, but most gratifying all the same. Accurate visitor numbers remain incredibly difficult to ascertain, given the number of folk reading via RSS feeds or whatever. But it's quality of readership rather than quantity which most makes me smile, so thank you! (2003: 2141) (2004: 6917) (2005: 9636) (2006: 42277) (2007: 23082) (2008: 32006) (2009: 26048) (2010: 30264) (2011: 37200) (2012:40018)
Count 2 (Blog comments): There's nothing quite so unpredictable as comments. Some days this blog attracts almost none, while other days the discussion catches fire and you add dozens. Altogether this February you've fired more than 500 comments my way, and we've still got two more days of the month to go. This represents approximately 20 comments per day, on average, which is a fantastic level of engagement. Most blogs have commenting zones resembling tumbleweed, but somehow you lot always seem to carry on talking. Often you're taking me to task or telling me something's wrong, but that's good because I'd rather my posts were correct than riddled with errors. Sometimes you only join in when I discuss something generic (like coffee) and not when I get too place-specific (because you've never been). Sometimes you veer off-topic, but rarely wildly so, and sometimes the discussion is far more interesting than my post. Somehow a community has evolved here, where regular and occasional commenters co-exist, and that's not an easy thing to create. Thanks everyone, because it's you that helps to bring this page to life. Total number of comments on this webpage in February 2013: 546 Ten year review: What's most surprised me about a decade of diamond geezer comments is how similar the monthly totals are. They bob up and down a lot, and the first year was understandably low, but since then the average has been unexpectedly consistent - between 400 and 600 comments a month. I might have expected numbers to fall, because commenting's a very old-school blogging thing, peaking in the "Golden Age" of 2005-2008. People don't have time to comment any more, not now there's a wealth of online content to distract them. Or else they're busy commenting on Twitter or Facebook, where debate is entirely transitory and rapidly ebbs away. To still have readers commenting in 2013 is a bit of a triumph, and against all the odds. Alternatively I might have expected numbers to rise, because I have far more readers now and they ought to talk more too. Ten years ago I received one comment per 13 readers, whereas now it's only one comment per 100, and that's a far less impressive engagement rate. But at least what comment remains is intelligent, relevant, insightful and (mostly) kitten-free. I'm delighted, obviously. (2003: 166) (2004: 332) (2005: 463) (2006: 648) (2007: 566) (2008: 504) (2009: 472) (2010: 396) (2011: 558) (2012: 440)
Count 3 (Blog content): I had wondered if I was writing too much, and here's the proof. 2013 is my most prolific February yet, with blog output now averaging more than 1000 words a day. I always mean to keep things succinct, but rarely manage. There's usually something extra I want to add, another fact to add, another sentence to squeeze in, and before I know where I am I've written another daily essay. One thousand words a day is not to be sniffed at - it's the equivalent of writing a novel every two months, except I never end up with a book at the end of it. Things got psychologically worse a few months ago when Blogger redesigned its interface, providing me with a larger white space into which to type my posts. It might feel like I'm entering the same number of screensworth of text, but the lines are longer so my word count has increased. I know you'd still read this blog if I wrote a bit less, but something keeps driving me to write a bit more, and then a bit more again. I need to learn to ease off a little. Total number of words in diamond geezer in February 2013: 29410 Ten year review: I kept my output pretty much in check until 2009, writing approximately 500-600 words each day. That was manageable, even allowed me a social life as necessary, and you probably didn't think any the worse of me. But then the slow climb began. A few more words each day, a lot more words each month, it all eventually added up. I have effectively doubled the number of words I write compared to ten years ago, approaching a 15% increase in the last year alone. You might be loving the outcome, because you get more to read. But I'm spending more of my time writing, and less of my time "having a life", and that's not really how things should be. Don't worry, I haven't broken yet. (2003: 14392) (2004: 16214) (2005: 16016) (2006: 15817) (2007: 17102) (2008: 17606) (2009: 20602) (2010: 21595) (2011: 23120) (2012: 25698)
Count 4 (Work/life balance): Daytum provides a fascinating way to visualise my February as a purplish pie chart (reproduced here), and 2013's graph is no exception. What's especially reassuring is to see how my life isn't dominated by work. I put in more than my contractual hours, but the total still comes to less than a quarter of my time. I suspect your graph might be similar, or close-ish, if you ever stopped and calculated the percentage. However this year I'm having an atypical February because I'm enjoying a week off, which never normally happens, so that's skewed the figures somewhat. As for sleep totals, I doze for an average of six hours a day. That's borderline normal, I suspect, although I'm edging slowly down towards five and a half, which is probably not a good thing. Only 7% of my time is spent on the move, less than half of which is my daily commute and the rest is time spent gallivanting round the capital. And that leaves nearly half my life for everything else - eating, blogging, socialising, visiting, tellying, slobbing, that sort of thing. Thankfully I'm extremely good at dragging things out to fill the time available, because there's a lot of it, but that's the joy of being footloose and offspring-free. What I really should do one year is count how much of this 'play' time is spent blogging, because I fear it's rather a lot, even rather too much... Total number of hours spent doing stuff in February 2013: 672 (=24×28, obviously)
2013 - (work: 138) (rest: 163) (play: 313) (travel: 58)
2012 - (work: 169) (rest: 167) (play: 287) (travel: 49)
2011 - (work: 158) (rest: 172) (play: 290) (travel: 53)