March 11, 2003

Happy Blirgday to me!

Patrick Crozier | Best of Transport Blog | Blogging

It’s my blirgday. Transport Blog (UK Transport as was) is now a year old. So, perhaps this would be a good time to reflect on some of those first order questions.

Like why did I set it up? Actually, this is a rather good question as I am not entirely sure. At the time lots of people were getting very excited about blogging. Initially, I was underwhelmed to say the least. I couldn’t see what blogging offered that couldn’t just as easily be delivered by newsgroups and e-mail lists. And then there was the whole business of top posting which meant that you had to scroll down to see what the top article was all about.

I didn’t get it but lots of people did and most importantly they (especially Samizdata) were getting hits. The idea that I might get heard mattered. I was going to be a blogger. It was at this point that I made a thinking error. I made the assumption that in the long run the Blogosphere would develop a hierarchy. At the top would be digest blogs which took in the best stories from all the other blogs. At the bottom there would be the small, specialist blogs providing the stories. I doubted my ability to found and run a digest blog (all too true as it turned out) so plumped for a specialist blog instead. As I was already the Libertarian Alliance’s Transport Spokesman the choice of subject seemed obvious. UK Transport was born.

What I didn’t realise was that the Blogosphere is peer to peer. Stories do not flow top to bottom but side to side. This is an enormous strength as it means there is no real centre of power. If Glen Reynolds goes mad then he will lose readers pretty pronto. But it is also a weakness because stories tend to move around it only slowly. The only reason why the Blogosphere seems to have so many scoops is because the mainstream media is often even slower to pick up on things.

So, did I achieve my aim? To some extent yes, but not as I expected. I am being read. Transport Blog, last time I looked, is getting about 80 hits a day which I regard as pretty respectable. 80 people certainly weren’t reading my output every day before I took up blogging. But funnily enough I am not being particularly read by the Blogosphere. Only occasionally do people pick up on what I am writing. But I am being read by the wider Internet community – mostly finding me through search engines.

[Indeed, the most frequently read article is: “Why oil will never run out”. Which is odd because it is at quite a remove from the main thrust of Transport Blog]

But I do think I (now along with Brian and Michael) am beginning to have some influence. Nothing earth shattering you understand but here and there in the mainstream media I notice opinions not dissimilar to my own that I am sure weren’t there a year ago.

And that is good.

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Comments

Happy birthday :-)

Er, can't think of anything else to say. Never mind. Happy birthday! again.

Posted by Alice Bachini on March 11, 2003

My own blog is about 80 a day, also. However, when I wrote about transport related issues over there and you gave me a link, I would find my traffic and feedback suddenly coming from different places to where my traffic normally comes from. It's quite interesting to watch.

Posted by Michael Jennings on March 11, 2003

My own blog is about 80 a day, also. However, when I wrote about transport related issues over there and you gave me a link, I would find my traffic and feedback suddenly coming from different places to where my traffic normally comes from. It's quite interesting to watch.

Posted by Michael Jennings on March 11, 2003

Patrick:

Happy birthday.

I like the changes you've just made. This means I need no longer say that it's me at the top of every interruption/posting I do here. It already says, although maybe it should say it in slightly larger letters ...? Probably not necessary. But it is good to have the name right there under the title.

I also hate the habit of putting quotes into wall-to-wall italics, and note with approval that this also has been changed. I agree with you that indentation is quite sufficient.

Keep up the good work for many more further years. Three more people to add to the three of us who (with very varying energy levels) do Transport Blog now, and it shouldn't be so exhausting for you to keep this going!

On more serious notes, I agree that you've almost certainly had impact, which is probably because your regular readers are not regular blog readers. To me this is the whole point of specialist blogs. There's this great mass of people (I'm one) who just love the whole idea of blogs, and read lots of blogs and (on our computers anyway) not a lot else. And a tiny few of these people read Transport Blog, hence the apparently low daily numbers.

But a big slice of your readership is people who care about Transport rather than about the Blog bit. So that means that your messages break out of the closed circle that is the blogosphere, out into real life. So I reckon your reader numbers don't really do justice to your achievement.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on March 13, 2003

You stole my point, Brian. This blog may already serve as a resource for journalists and transport writers.

You might find yourself suddenly breaking into the transport geek market too - there's a lot of them about (I'm married to one.) Only trouble is, they all adore railways.

Posted by Natalie Solent on March 15, 2003

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