Friday, October 16, 2009

A thousand posts later

Yesterday’s posting marked the 1,000th posting on Open IT Strategies since I began in January 2007. It seems worthwhile to note the milestone and changes for the next phase of the blog.

From the first 1,000 postings, the top 5 topics are about what I would have expected after the first six months:

  • business models (107)
  • iPhone (104)
  • Apple (101)
  • mobile phones (94)
  • Google (80)
Of the next 10 categories, open source (43) and smartphones (39) are surprisingly low, while academia (39) and off-topic (39) are surprisingly high. Commodiziation (53), Microsoft (46), Web 2.0 (42), Nokia and open standards (36 each) are about where I’d expect them.

The blog has become a bit more of a mobile phone industry blog than an open standards blog, in part because interesting issues of open standards strategies are relatively rare.

To set direction going forward, I ran a reader survey in August. Almost 300 people saw the survey, but only 19 replied. The first page (asking opinions of specific posts) was very useful but also destroyed the response rate. Overall, business models was the most popular topic with non-tech topics the least popular. (I was surprised that there wasn’t more interest in media industries and information goods).

The articles that attracted the most negative reaction were on issues of economic policy (57 articles total) and related topics about (mis)management of the US economy. Given the high representation of respondents in the Bay Area and Europe, that’s probably to be expected. (I never intended to write about these topics, but 13 months ago I succumbed to baiting by a friend and former John Kerry elector who wanted to see if I would defend “W”; as it turns out, my last posting about his economic policies was harshly critical.)

To understand what attracts interest, I also poke at Google analytics now and again. From both the user comments and the analytics, the most consistently popular story in 2009 was my 2,800 word eulogy for the Mervyn’s department store, apparently because it was one of the few personal tributes to a store that was loved by many.

From the survey, one thing came through loud and clear: more is not better. Readers can’t keep up with more than 3-4 postings a week — which is good, because some weeks I have spent 8 hours or more on the blog. Right now, the press of teaching has slowed down my blogging (as it did in Fall 2007), but even when I have more time I’m going to limit my postings and spend most of those on the topics of greatest interest.

Should I get even more time, I will spend it keeping my other blogs alive with weekly postings rather than writing more articles for this blog than people can read. I have more ideas than I can possibly cover in one week, so I’ll have to be selective to fit my time available to write and the time of my readers to read.

To supplement blogging, I’ve also discovered the benefits of Twitter®. I have begun to vent some of my ideas there, whether it’s griping about threats to free markets or reposting the interesting OSS/tech policy insights of my buddy Matt Asay.

Also to reduce time blogging on economics issues, I’ve decided to feature in the sidebar four of my favorite blogs by economists defending free markets: Greg Mankiw (Harvard), John Lott (Maryland), EconLog (a group of contributors) and the official blog of the libertarian Cato Institute. This supplements the four tech blogs previously/still listed on the right.

And speaking of economics, I believe the Google ad words experiment is now at an end. I earned $12 in three months, which certainly didn’t make it worth the tackiness of highlighting their ads. Instead, I’ll go back to occasionally mentioning a book that I personally find interesting, and rely on the Amazon Associates to bring in the $50-100 in referral fees that I earn every year — less than the minimum wage for the time I spend in any given month, but of greater value to readers than the ad words.

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