A look back at 2012’s blogging stats

Once again, a routine running on a server somewhere in a WordPress.com data center generated a 2012 annual report for this blog. You can view that presentation by clicking on the fancy fireworks graphic below; after, I’ll share a few highlights from last year’s stats, including some that didn’t make it into this automated annual report.

Total views: 89,639, up from 74,636 last year–and with a notable spike in November and December, largely thanks to my second-biggest traffic source.

Busiest day: Nov. 11, with 5,511 views, most for my discussion of whether I should keep or return a Surface and an iPad mini. (which broke the prior record of 5,416 I set when I announced my exit from the Post on April 7 of last year)

Most popular posts: that Surface and iPad mini post, at 11,300 views and change; my perennially popular guide to forwarding Lotus Notes e-mail to Gmail, at 6,600 or so; a quick note about search results getting redirected elsewhere, roughly 5,400. (These and following numbers are necessarily vague, because WordPress.com doesn’t break them down by the last year, only by the last 365 days.)

Top referrers: “Search engines” counted for almost 20,000 clickthroughs, of which about 19,000 came from various Google sites, maybe 300 from Bing and even fewer from other search options; Jim Dalrymple and Peter Cohen’s Loop Insight added up to about 8,800 and gets most of the credit for the popularity of the Surface/iPad mini and strange-search-results posts, among a few others; Twitter and USA Today followed up with about 2,000 each, and Facebook was just under that threshold.

Top search terms: Beyond the obvious one of my name (not to mention about 10 misspellings thereof), this list is topped by two computer-troubleshooting topics: forwarding Notes to Gmail, and OS X’s occasionally runaway CalendarAgent process.

Intangibles: I’m glad I was able to stick to writing at least a post almost every week outside my weekly-roundup self-promotion–and that some of these shorter posts that I might have held off writing in 2011 flowed into paid writing elsewhere. But I’m also happy that the writing feels like it’s been coming faster and easier here.

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2012 in review: business and baby development

This year hasn’t been nearly as dramatic as last, and I think I’m okay with that (aside from not going to any rocket launches).

2012 calendarI started this year with three regular clients constituting almost all of my income and have spent a lot of my time since showing up at other places. I’ve had the pleasure of writing at some of my favorite sites and of getting reacquainted with long-form journalism in print and online.

That experimentation was the right idea, since I stopped blogging for CEA in September (not that I’d mind doing the occasional guest post there) and will be writing less for Discovery next year.

I have other income coming along; in particular, I’m enjoying opining about tech-policy matters at the Computer & Communications Industry Association’s Disruptive Competition Project. But these shifts have been a useful reminder of how as a freelancer, you can’t get too fixated on any current client–a principle that I may have let fade in my mind during those 17 years at the Post.

I’ve also traveled a hell of a lot this year. Conferences, trade shows and speaking invitations took me to Austin, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Napa, San Francisco (four times!) and Santa Clara–plus a transatlantic jaunt to Berlin.

I’ve enjoyed coming home to my family every single time. The miniature human being who had started calling me “Dada” by this time last year now seems to learn a word a week and has developed distinct interests–including, to my delight, trains, airplanes and spaceships. She has gone from toddling around the house to fearlessly exploring playgrounds on both coasts. What will our daughter think of next? I look forward to finding out over next year.

Why we vote

Because you want your candidate to win.

Because you want the other candidate to lose.

Because you can express your distaste for everybody on the ballot by writing in somebody else. Even yourself.

Because voting for the winning candidate can feel pretty good.

Because lining up to vote for the candidate who’s going to lose anyway demands a degree of stubbornness that should serve you well in other pursuits.

Because it’s not hard, and outside of presidential elections it rarely takes much time.

Because in state elections, you can do your small part to head off a lot of the nonsense that happens in state legislatures–like, say, attempts to make voting as bureaucratic and litigious as possible to stop the fictitious problem of in-person voter fraud.

Because in local elections, you have good odds of talking to the candidates directly, and you may even know some of them.

Because you may have the chance to vote on state constitutional amendments that will tie the government’s hands in ways you do or not want–or that may outright shame your state.

Because Americans have been beaten, jailed and killed trying to defend their right to vote. Our overcoming our worst instincts is part of our story as a country; honor it.

Because it’s your damn job as a citizen of the United States of America.

Because if you don’t vote, you invite the stupidest voter in your precinct to cast a ballot on your behalf.

Because if you can’t be bothered to vote, why should anybody care about what you think about the state of the country?

11/6, 8:13 a.m. Added one more reason to this list.

The campaign-distraction factor

We have only 17 days until Election Day, which is good. I don’t think I can stand any more of this.

Compared to earlier presidential campaign seasons, I held off the obsessive news-gathering stage for a long time this year. But the combination of the advancing calendar and shifting, contrary poll results has finally pulled me in; there’s no way I won’t be less productive through November 6. Possibly the 7th, depending on how long election night runs before somebody calls a winner.

This isn’t the first presidential campaign that I could follow to an unhelpful degree: 2000, 2004 and 2008 took large bites out of my schedule. (There were probably intense discussions on Usenet about Dole and Clinton in ’96 that have since escaped my memory.) But in each of those years, I spent most of my workdays in an office, while mobile Web access ranged from nonexistent to underdeveloped.

Now, however, there’s nobody sitting next to my desk to ask why I’m checking Talking Points Memo or FiveThirtyEight for the fifth or eighth time in the workday. And stepping out to run an errand doesn’t mean I can’t get that fix of political updates–even if they amount to little more than noise.

The other difference this time is that, unbound by delusional social-media guidelines, I don’t have to pretend that I have no interest in the outcome. So I’m a little more open about what I think on Twitter. And on Friday, I went to President Obama’s rally at George Mason University (photo above), which allowed me to hear “Romnesia” make its debut in this year’s headlines. Fact: campaign rallies can be fun if you support the person running. I didn’t know that before, having never gone to one until Friday.

(That support doesn’t extend to donating money or my labor. Working on behalf of a candidate goes way beyond making a little noise in the stands.)

The wait on election night to see if things go my way may not be so much fun. I like the president’s odds–but as a Nats fan, I know how the score can change unexpectedly and unpleasantly if your team loses focus. Seventeen more days.