Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Midpoint assessment (spatially).

A few weeks prior, I managed to achieve what would have seemed to me unthinkable when I started this blog 15 months ago: a blog entry featuring my 25th state. Upon featuring an article on airport security in Roanoke, Virginia, I had officially covered half of the US states. Obviously, from looking at the spread of articles, some of these states figure more prominently in the blog than others; it is clear that I have spent a good amount of the past two years in Indiana and Louisiana. And, of course, the fact that these articles explore half the states hardly means I have come even close to covering half of the country’s land area. The nation’s 3,141 counties (or county equivalents) offer at least a somewhat more pointillistic way of surveying the land, and I have only covered about 2.2% of them. And, as anyone scanning the featured states in my blog can quickly see, the West remains virtually completely untapped. Featuring more Western landscapes remains a goal of mine, but my familiarity with the region leaves something to be desired; I haven’t visited California in 13 years.

But leave it to me to sell myself short, even as I try to promote the blog. The intense work load is unlikely to let up soon, which prevents me from posting as frequently as I’d like, as well as devoting time to get the word out. But that hasn’t stopped me from enrolling my blog in Google Analytics to learn the stats regarding my blog's viewership. Unfortunately my subscription has been spotty since I first enrolled in December 2009; I unwittingly terminated my enrollment in April of 2010 when I changed the blog’s template. I finally realized the error of my ways in early August of this year, but the three months in which my Google Analytics tracker was down will remain a mystery. Nonetheless, here are the most critical observations at this point in covering 50% of the states (if hardly 50% of America):

- My most popular blog articles have surprised me, since they usually aren’t among the most commented upon. The persistent success of Indianapolis’ Greenwood Park Mall is my third most viewed site; the unusual skyline of Houston is the second most viewed, and the study of the flag of Maryland (and vexillology in general) is my most frequently viewed page.

- For a blog titled American Dirt, it comes as no surprise that English is by far the preferred language of my viewers, and that the overwhelming majority of visitors to my site come from the United States, followed by Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. More surprising is that Malaysia, Philippines, and Switzerland feature into the top 10. And alas, the world’s most populous country, China, has not viewed my site at all in the past two months. Brits actually spend a longer time on average on my site than Americans, by more than thirty seconds.

- Even as the geographic scope of my blog has expanded (it initially nearly always featured articles in Indiana), the majority of sites used to reach me are Indianapolis-derived blogs: UrbanIndy.com and Urbanophile.Com are the top two.

Diversification has long been a goal, as well, of course, with expansion. But the former may even be more important for ensuring long-term support. Even as my posts will likely be sparse for the foreseeable future, I hope—however slowly—to improve both of these two characteristics. Thanks again for reading, stay tuned for more, and, as always, I welcome your comments--and will be happy to respond.