A brief history of January

With all the blogging I’ve been doing so far this month, a few of you have given me strange looks or short notes to the effect of “Hey, didn’t know you were still writing on that thing, ha ha.”

Right. Well. Don’t get too excited.

Just before I completely corrupted the data by importing more than 2,500 Delicious links as blog posts, I took a quick count, by month, of all the posts on this blog since I started it way back in February 2005 as a freshly minted graduate student in Mass Communications at San Jose State University.

And lately, January is big deal. Clearly, I have a New Year’s resolution problem.

Onward to the data, visualized as the most boring Excel bar chart in the history of boring bar charts.

Aside from the obvious fact that 2009 and 2010 were pretty dark years around this URL, a few amusing data points:

  • January has been my most prolific month, historically, and the top month for 2010 and 2009. In 2010, this was definitely a resolution issue.
  • As for the other spikes: In May 2005, the last month of my first semester in graduate school, and first semester as a blogger, I just plain wrote a lot. This was definitely a phase where I would link to someone else’s post and express my own opinion as it related to the topic at hand. Pretty basic blogging stuff. But In February 2006, I was importing Delicious links automatically, grouped together in a single post per day if I had saved anything new. Some people still do this, but I don’t really care for it. So that month’s numbers are a bit padded.
  • In June 2007, the all-time page view champion on this here website, I only published 11 posts, making it a mid-range month, ranked 36 of 73.
  • The 15 months with the fewest posts were all in 2009 and 2010.
  • Other than January 2005, which I included here with a zero because I think that’s when I wrote my first post or two on the original Blogspot blog where this all originated, there are no zeroes on this list. That’s right, even in the throes of whatever overarching busy-ness was keeping me away from regular blogging, I managed to get one in every month. That was a surprise to me.

The real trick, of course, is keeping up the pace when January’s over.

We’ll see.

Looser than average ends

Let’s just dig into the bucket of links I’ve been mailing myself from Tweetie, er, Twitter for the iPhone, and see what we can tie together here…

  • There is now a “Share on Twitter” bookmarklet for your Web browser that pairs rather nicely with the recently released “Tweet” button for your website. (An aside: There should be no such thing as a “retweet” button for your website. If the user is mashing the button to craft their own tweet about it, it’s not much of a retweet, is it? The old Tweetmeme method of making the user retweeting @tweetmeme seemed backwards to me, although I can certainly understand their motivation.)
  • Seth Lewis recently completed his Ph.D. dissertation on the Knight News Challenge. Judging by the abstract, it looks like an interesting academic take on how the News Challenge program has expanded the boundaries of “journalism” and the limits on who might be a participant in that sort of activity. (Obvious disclosure: Hey, I won a KNC grant a couple years back, so I’m extra-interested.)
  • Speaking of research, if you’ve written anything academic about online journalism in the last five years or so, you probably cited Pablo Boczkowski’s work. Lucky for you, he has a new book out, called News at Work. Read it, cite it, rock it.
  • This fascinates me: TimeFlow, a visual reporting/analysis tool for reporters. Less about visualizing conventional “data,” more about visualizing what you know about a story. Better than a pile of notepads? Surely. (via Mark Schaver)
  • USA Today’s Josh Hatch talks about that great Hurricane Katrina project they launched for the fifth anniversary of the storm, released on the Web, but designed for the iPad. I complained pretty adamantly about a recent Washington Post package that was clearly designed for the iPad, to the detriment of readability on the Web. The USA Today package, on the other hand, is the heir to the “Flash package of videos-as-chapters story” multimedia presentation. There’s no Flash, of course, in either the video players, or cool-trick-of-the-moment “Then and Now” image gallery. The USA Today package wisely doesn’t attempt to squeeze a massive text story into a mobile-friendly format. I’d like to believe that this is the beginning of a trend: The cool interactive built with just enough attention to the mobile browser. The user experience carries over across platforms without any missing pieces.
  • And, filed under a mix of fun, music, and historical information visualized as a map, the Rap Map, which maps and explains locations mentioned in the lyrics of popular hip-hop compositions. Spotted this via Kottke, who highlights the Club New York entry, which includes the Shyne/Puffy/J-Lo incident that inadvertently led to me quitting the movie/tv/commercial business. Long story.

So what’s the common thread?

When I look at these links, what jumps out at me are the layers of systemization and optimization that we layer on top of the Web of information available to us as journalists (and to consumers of news.)

Make sense of your social media workflow, impose order on your notes on a story, gather, catalog, and cross-reference otherwise independent locations…

Maybe this is one of the important parts about the shift from existing as a newspaper to a news organization: The end product is no longer, naturally, ink-on-paper. The end product is the organization of information into something useful to the audience.

But that’s obvious, right?

(A few other sources of origin, from my point of view, for the above information presented as a bulleted list: @amandabee, @chanders, @niemanlab)