State of the blog, 2009

I really started taking this blogging thing seriously about mid-way through 2008, when I became a member of Research Blogging. But 2009 is the first entire year I’ve spent actually thinking about what I’d like to write about on here, what place blogging occupies in the hierarchy of my to-do list, and what the point of the whole operation might be. So the end of the year (or really, till I finish this post, the beginning of 2010) seems like a good moment to pause and take inventory. Plus, it’ll give me a page to link to for some vital stats I’d like to read into the record.

Weekly visitors to D&T, tabulated by Google Analytics. Blue line: total visitors. Orange line: visitors referred via links from other sites.
  • In 2009, I wrote 229 posts (averaging just over 19/month), which drew 14,045 unique visitors (averaging 1,170/month) as tabulated by Google Analytics.
  • Most visitors who didn’t come directly to D&T linked here via Research Blogging or its widget on I wrote 62 posts on peer-reviewed research for the Research Blogging aggregator, and these received 1,989 visitors via RB or SB. Other major referral sources include the Evolution 2009 blog coverage page (1,081 visitors) and the blogroll over at The EEB & Flow (1,027 visitors).
  • I also joined the Nature Blog Network this year. NBN has been less a source of traffic, and more useful for its reminders about upcoming blog carnivals and suggestions for casual bloggers.
  • I covered the Darwin 200 festivities leading up to, and throughout, the week of 12 February.
  • I also blogged about the Evolution 2009 meetings, which were hosted by my department at the University of Idaho. I ran the conference website, and attempted to coordinate online activities to coincide with the meatspace meeting, with mixed success.
  • This was also a year of political furor, in the States if not elsewhere, and I wrote 34 posts tagged “politics”. I did not apply that label to my brief note on Barack Obama’s inauguration as President.
  • I’ve continued to write about Christianity on D&T, but only composed 13 posts with that tag, and only 2 posts about Mennonites specifically. This reflects, I think, my present relationship to the tradition in which I was raised. I don’t subscribe to the supernatural elements of orthodox Christian doctrine, and the Mennonite Church as an institution doesn’t seem interested in my company for, um, other reasons (although there are hopeful signs). Time for a change to the masthead? We’ll have to see.
  • I made $35.40 in commissions on those nerdy t-shirts of my own design advertised in the sidebar. I will not be quitting my day job any time soon.
  • As an extremely pleasant end-of-year surprise, I was also awarded a travel grant for the Science Online 2010 conference, in recognition of a particularly involved post I wrote back in August about the evolution of milk drinking by adult humans. I’m looking forward to the conference and shall, naturally, cover it here.

Which observation brings this post to a tidy narrative end. I remain, I think, a scientist who has a blog rather than a science blogger, though the line between the two is blurry. Like any single-author publication, D&T is a horribly narcissistic enterprise – to me it’s serving a useful function if it provides regular writing practice, structure for my extracurricular science reading, and a place to blow off steam. I’ve been very fortunate this year to garner the occasional comment, some very kind in-person remarks from readers I’ve happened to meet in person, and an opportunity to start 2010 with a conference full of smart people who are way better at this sort of thing than I am ever likely to be. Not too bad, as hobbies go.