When I wrote the first entry on this blog, three-and-a-half years ago, I had certain Ideal Readers in mind. The imaginary audience I was composing for was made up of family members. This space was my 21st century replacement for all the absent correspondence and neglected thank you notes I always intended, but never managed, to write.
Have you noticed, lately, the subtle shift in the voice of my writing? I have. My Ideal Reader has changed, and I don’t know who exactly I’m writing for, anymore.
Tinker with a blog long enough and you’re bound to see your readership grow and change. I’ve had friends tell me funny stories about how they stumbled across my website. Juneau’s small, but big enough that I’ve been introduced to people that already knew something about me because of what I’d written here. I keep an eye on my referral logs, and every month I’m surprised by something. Google is by far my biggest referrer (likely because my logorrhea produces plenty of keyword matches), and its search strings are enlightening. Probably the biggest spike I’ve ever had was when Steve Irwin died and hundreds of people hit my post on the Manta Rays of Hawaii. I’ve even had a New York Times Bestselling author post a comment here (though, I admit, that’s a bit of a cheat.)
I love looking at the world map, seeing where all the incoming visitors are from. Is that my friend from Japan? Are those hits in Moscow someone I know? What the heck are people from Eastern Europe doing reading my blog? The point is, I can no longer pretend that what I write here is only read by a few friends and family. Which is cool, actually. I can deal with that. I’m just struggling to find my Ideal Reader again. If I can, it’ll make it easier to decide what I’m going to write about.
I’ve thought about it, and rather than worry about who’s watching, I’ve decided to embrace the new readers. I have no idea if my ping-pong thoughts will mean anything to anyone else, but as I see it, there’s no harm in putting (most of) them out there.
With that in mind, I installed a couple new WordPress plug-ins. The first one should serve up a mobile version of my blog for cell phones and such. Partly this is because I want to play with the data capabilities of my new phone, but it’s also because, believe it or not, someone actually requested it. (Note to You-know-who-you-are: I expect you to read even the 15,000 word posts on your Blackberry!)
The other plug-in is more visible. At the end of each entry (even in the RSS feed) there should be a new link called “Share This.” I honestly don’t have any expectations for how this will be used, but after doing all that Web 2.0 thinking awhile back, it seemed like a worthy addition. If you think something I post here is worth sharing, feel free to pass it on. I’ve only played with the E-mail and Google Bookmarks part of Share This. If you use any of the other services listed — Del.icio.us, Netscape, Technorati, Yahoo, etc. — give the plug-in a spin and let me know if it works.
I doubt anyone will Digg one of my posts, but if you want to, hell, I’m game. Bring it on. I’d love to see what a metric butt-load of internet traffic does to my server. (Just as long as it’s not pointing to one of the videos. God forbid half a million people try to download Pimp my Couch!)