Happy first birthday Tetrapod Zoology (part I)
So, today is Tetrapod Zoology’s first birthday. In this post (and part II) I want to look back at a year’s blogging: given that I do not really blog ‘to a plan’ (I simply write about those subjects that I bump into, or find particularly interesting on the spur of the moment), I’m interested in seeing what I might learn about my blogging habits. It’s also worth reviewing Tetrapod Zoology’s changing fortunes, and on looking back at my own circumstances, during the year that’s past. You’ll be pleased to hear that we (as in, Toni, Will and myself) celebrated Tetrapod Zoology’s first birthday by visiting the Natural History Museum in
A year in the life
It feels like a lot happened in 2006, though I’m not sure if it really did. I spent time in the field looking at obscure British reptiles and amphibians, wild deer, rodents, bats and birds, and I taught Will stuff about tracking and field sign. I visited the farm many times (see adjacent image), and the zoo where I was impressed by takins, peccaries, sleeping anteaters and rhinos. Feedback on the blog increased and, thanks to it, I made lots of new friends. The main event of 2006 was, of course, the completion of my PhD on Wealden theropods. By repeatedly staying up until 05-00 each morning, I managed to get the thing completed, and at the start of June I had the viva and completed the process in full. Besides being kept busy with my editorial work for Cretaceous Research, in late 2006 I began an adult-education course on the evolution and diversity of tetrapods for the WEA (Workers Educational Authority), and at the start of 2007 I am currently teaching the second such course.
Since completing the PhD I’ve been unable to get a job in academia, despite strenuous efforts, and life has been very hard. However, working on the assumption that I will somehow get back into the system, I have continued to do research when time allows. Several academic projects that have been mentioned on the blog have yet to come to fruition, including that long-delayed manuscript on British dinosaur diversity, and work on Cretaceous Spanish vertebrates, Wealden sauropods, and azhdarchid ecology. In July, Dave Martill and I finally published our paper on Tupuxuara and the affinities of azhdarchoid pterosaurs (to a flurry of media attention), and Dave, Sarah Fielding and I published a review of Kimmeridge Clay dinosaurs later in the year. I am routinely asked to do talks for local natural history and geology groups, and in 2006 I lectured on ichthyosaurs, British big cats and Wealden dinosaurs. I also did TV interviews on theropods and marine reptiles, a podcast for George Kenney’s Electric Politics site, and late in the year I was commissioned to assist in the development of a TV programme featuring computer-generated dinosaurs.
While all of this was going on, I have researched and published blog articles on… well, a lot of stuff (see part II). For me, blogging is great for two main reasons. Firstly, it’s very easy compared to conventional publishing. An article of a 1000 words can be written, illustrated, formatted and published within an hour or so. Secondly, the accessibility and popularity of blogs means that blog posts are almost certainly read by more people than are anything within conventionally published media.
Troughs, peaks and mega-peaks
Naturally, if you maintain a web site of any sort, you’re interested in how much, or how little, traffic you’re getting. Blogspot doesn’t provide a web counter for every blog of course, so the only way to check your traffic is to see how many people have viewed your profile. However, of every 2000 people that visit a blog, perhaps 1 looks at the profile, so this isn’t a reliable guide. So in September I installed a web counter (provided, free by bravenet), and by November 2006 it had counted 50,000 hits, which ain’t bad. At the time of writing, the current number of average daily hits is round about 500 (see adjacent graph, depicting traffic on
Within a short length of time I learnt that certain types of posts got more hits than others, and this partly explains why – in November 2006 – I blogged about sasquatch. Thanks to the web counter, I was able to watch my traffic soar to a high of about 3000 a day. It seems that mentions of the blog on scienceblogs.com sites and anomalist.com result in a surge of traffic: the graph shown here shows what happened on
Continued in part II….