diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 27, 2014

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 February since, purely to keep tabs on how my life is changing. Eleven years later, I think we can agree it's changed quite a bit, and yet not changed too. Below are my counts for February 2014 (also available in graphical form via Daytum), accompanied by the previous statistics and some deep, meaningful pondering.
Yes, I know February's not over yet, so all the figures below are based on best estimates for the final 48 hours. But don't worry, I'll come back and update the 2014 data as the next couple of days play out, before settling on the finalised figures at the end of the month.

Count 1 (Blog visitors): It's not quite enough to top my post-Olympic high from last year, but that's almost the highest number of visitors I've ever had in a February. Indeed I've been averaging fifty thousand and something visitors a month pretty consistently since the middle of 2012, which is just under two thousand visitors a day, which is nice. February 2014's total is particularly surprising given that I've spent a significant portion of the month writing about bus routes around the edge of London, which is hardly "must read" subject material for the average man in the street. It does sometimes feel like this blog is evolving into a travelogue about increasingly obscure parts of London and southeast England, but maybe that's what needs to happen after a decade of daily posts, otherwise I'd just end up repeating myself. I do try to intersperse the transport and travel stuff with other stuff, but I don't really know which topics you like best, so I assume you keep coming back for the variety. I also assume that London's other 8.172 million inhabitants aren't interested.
Total number of visits to this webpage in February 2014: 51727
2003-2014 review: Eleven 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 peaks in February 2006 and 2008 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 tube trains of readers daily. That's still insignificant in the grand scheme of things, 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) (2013: 55369)

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. Yesterday would be a good example of that, where I hit the nerve (or missed the point) with a post about contactless cards and received twice as many comments as on any other day this month. Altogether this February you've fired more than 400 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, usually politely, 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, occasionally wildly so, but sometimes that discussion is 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 2014: 477
2003-2014 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 bit, 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 2014 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 than they do. Ten years ago I received one comment per 20 readers, whereas now it's more like one comment per 120, and that's a far less impressive engagement rate. But at least what comment remains is intelligent, relevant, insightful and (mostly) non-stalky. I'm delighted, obviously.
(2003: 166) (2004: 332) (2005: 463) (2006: 648) (2007: 566) (2008: 504) (2009: 472) (2010: 396) (2011: 558) (2012: 440) (2013: 546)

Count 3 (Blog content): I continue to write too much. 2014 has been my most prolific February yet, with blog output now averaging over 1100 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 include, another sentence to squeeze in, and before I know where I am I've written another daily essay. Eleven hundred 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. And I write fairly slowly too, the words don't usually pour out, not least because there are facts to check and links to add even after I'm done. I know you'd still read this blog if I wrote 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, and to edit my verbiage down a bit more. Tl;dr.
Total number of words in diamond geezer in February 2014: 32283
2003-2014 review: I kept my output pretty much in check until 2008, 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 now doubled the number of words I write compared to a decade ago, approaching a 25% increase in the last two years alone. Compare for example a typical report on a bus journey from 2004 (600-800 words) with one of my outer London orbitals from 2014 (1000-1400 words). 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) (2013: 29410)

Work/life balance, February 2014Count 4 (Work/life balance): Daytum provides a fascinating way to visualise my February as a purplish pie chart (reproduced here), and 2014'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. This year I'm having an atypical February because I'm sticking pretty much to my contractual hours, but equally I haven't taken a week off like last year which skewed the figures somewhat. As for sleep totals, I doze for an average of six hours a day. That's only 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 2014: 672 (=24×28, obviously)
2014 - (work: 157) (rest: 165) (play: 298) (travel: 53)
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)

Full figures for February 2014

(to be continued tomorrow)

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