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, butI'vecontinuedtocountthosecategoriesagain, everyFebruarysince, purely to keep tabs on how my life is changing. Twelve years later, I think we can agree it's changed quite a bit, and yet not changed too. Below are my counts for February 2015 (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 2015 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 almost a record. The very busiest month on this blog was August 2012, for Olympic reasons, but February 2015 is firmly lined up for second place. I've had three other months top sixty thousand visitors, but they were 31-dayers, whereas this February's daily average is much higher. I'm averaging just over two thousand visitors a day, which is as good as it's ever got, so I can't complain. It amazes me sometimes that anyone comes back when there's the risk of reading about Stoke-on-Trent or an essay on my local roundabout, which is hardly "must read" subject material for the average man in the street. Indeed I do wonder whether this blog is evolving into a travelogue about increasingly obscure parts of London and beyond, or is over-dependent on transport-related topics. But I try to provide you with a varied diet where possible, and this month somehow I've hit a rich seam of topics with broader appeal that's fed in folk from elsewhere. There's still demand out there for original subject matter, like a report from the low tide Thames or a top five of London labyrinths, rather than endless recycled press releases. But it's not all high octane stuff here, not by a long chalk. As one of my regular two thousand, I assume you either keep coming back for the variety, or can put up with the personally-irrelevant stuff inbetween. Total number of visits to this webpage in February 2015: 58380 2003-2015 review: Twelve 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 atypical peaks in February 2006 and 2008 skewed by externallinkage. 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 certain 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) (2014: 51727)
Count 2 (Blog comments): There's nothing quite so unpredictable as comments. Some days this blog attracts hardly any, while other days the discussion catches fire and you add dozens. Interestingly this month there's been rather more of the latter than the former, resulting in an extra-chatty February. Only twice has a day gone by with comments in single figures, while we've topped 30 seven times and 50 once. Admittedly this February's most commented post was one where I deliberately asked you for feedback, and you provided birthday suggestions in droves. But you lot talk even when not asked, and usually even on topic. Altogether this February you've fired more than 600 comments my way, which represents 22 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 work), or mention a keyword (like 'train'), and not when I get too place-specific (because you've never been). But 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 2015: 625 2003-2015 review: What's most surprised me about the last 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 on blogs any more, not now there's a wealth of online content to distract them. They do all their commenting on Twitter or Facebook, because that's instant, but the debate is entirely transitory and rapidly ebbs away. To still have readers commenting in 2015 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 100, 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) (2014: 477)
Count 3 (Blog content): I continue to write too much. 2015 isn't quite my most prolific February yet, that was last year, but my blog output still averages over 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 flesh out, another sentence to squeeze in, and before I know where I am I've written another essay. One thousand words a day is not to be sniffed at - it's the equivalent of writing five novels a year, 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 may have eased off fractionally since last year, but I haven't learnt my lesson yet. Tl;dr. Total number of words in diamond geezer in February 2015: 30362 2003-2015 review: I kept my output pretty much in check until 2008, writing approximately 500-600 words each day. This 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, which means you lot have to invest twice as long to read it. Compare for example a typical post about a walk up a main road from 2005 (700-800 words) with a similar post from 2015 (1300-1400 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) (2014: 32283)
Count 4 (Sleep): Daytum provides a fascinating way to visualise my February as a purplish pie chart (reproduced here). In the past I've depicted my work/life balance in four sectors, but this year I thought I'd simplify things and just count up how much I sleep. This is pertinent, because my bedtime is often directly related to how late I stay up writing you stuff. Often this creeps past midnight, I won't say specifically how far, because it is of course crucial that I get to the end of my final paragraph before turning in for the evening. So if you look at my pie chart you'll see I slept for only a quarter of my February. That's six hours a day, on average, which I suspect may be less than you survive on. What's more this average hides weeknights where I sleep for barely five hours, balanced out by weekends where I sometimes nod off for eight. And yet I still bounce through a day at work after a four-and-a-bit-er without needing coffee or having to gulp down a Red Bull to kickstart my morning. It's as if Margaret Thatcher and I shared the same genes, slumber-wise, which is brilliant because less sleep leaves you more time to do everything else in your life. Eighteen hours a day is plenty, even with work and travel taken out, to do the eating, blogging, socialising, visiting, tellying, slobbing, that sort of thing. If I needed to sleep more, you wouldn't get fresh bloggage in the morning on a regular basis, I can assure you of that. Total number of hours spent sleeping in February 2015: 169 (25%) (2011: 172) (2012: 167) (2013: 163) (2014: 165)