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Boredom & Stats For Nerds

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Last night I found myself looking through old blog posts on this site in an attempt to avoid thinking about any of the other things I need to get done. As I was looking back through the posts from 2004-2005, I was struck by how much my writing style changed when I switched from blogging anonymously to using my real name. My earlier writing was much braver, and significantly more personal. I took more risks with how I approached telling my stories, and in general I think the material was more interesting. However, after making the decision to use my own name, the posts slowly began to veer away from the personal and became much more distant. Topics became centered around surface-reactions to news items, formal reviews of books or services and discussion of technical concepts.

This was disappointing for me, as I consider this type of writing pretty boring. I mean, it is always fun to express one’s opinion, but the formal reviews and technical writing are completely at odds with what what spurred me to create a blog in the first place. In fact, I think this is the primary reason that I post so rarely these days. Certainly, I’ve been very busy, but come on, who can’t find 20-30 minutes every few days to write up a blog post?

Now, I have noted this change before, and my desire to revert back to a more interesting (not to mention more frequent) approach to posting here, so I won’t belabor the point by going over all of that again. Certainly not until I show much better follow-through in this regard. :-)

While I was pondering all these things, I noticed that most of my recent posts have consisted of very long reviews, and I began to wonder if all of my posts were as long. I started paging through blog entries, but quickly realized that this would only give me an anecdotal grasp of how much (or little) I write here. So, like any good geek, I wrote a script to do my work for me.

The results were interesting to me. The average number of words per blog post were significantly lower than I expected, but there are a significant number of long posts (which I arbitrarily defined as anything longer than 500 words) which may give an impression that I produce more content per post than I typically do.

The results for blog entries were as follows:

Entry Stats:

Total Blog Entries:       317
Total Words:              94705
Average Words:            298
Max Words / Entry:        2544
Min Words / Entry:        9
Entries w/ 500+ Words:       58

Of course, I don’t just post to my blog here, I also write descriptions and commentary in all of my Diigo bookmarks, which I then import here as link entries. I knew these would be shorter in general, but it was only a few more lines of code to get that information as well.

Link Stats:

Total Links:              567
Total Words:              24029
Average Words:            42
Max Words / Link:         365
Min Words / Link:         4
Links w/ 500+ Words:         0

Now, of course, if you are a geek, and you end up with two sets of stats, there is no way in hell you are not going to take the extra time to find out the overall average for all posts.

Overall Stats:

Total Posts:              884
Total Words:              118734
Average Words:            134
Max Words / Post:         2544
Min Words / Post:         4
Posts w/ 500+ Words:         58

Of course, the links weigh in heavily and bring down the average number of words, but I was pleased with the overall results and a little surprised at the overall word count for the site.

These kind of stats seem like a fun way of evaluating how often I am posting, and could be a useful motivational tool. So, exchanging a little bit of sleep for geek power, I went ahead and created a stats page for the site that I can use to monitor how I am doing in general. At some point, I would like to add functionality to track posting by day of week, and percent change over given time intervals, but for now this will do.

These are the kinds of things nerds do when they are bored, and don’t want to do anything else that they are supposed to be doing. :-)