I’m tired of stats. I’m tired of seeing my writing as piles of graphs and numbers. This is a screenshot of the WordPress.com backend for my RV+neurodiversity lifestyle blog, wanderingsmial.blog.
The number of views is shown for each post. I rarely mention Wandering Smial publicly. It’s just for me. The numbers shown are tiny and likely always will be.
When I visit the backend, the default screen is stats.
Maybe someday I’ll share the site more broadly, but, for now, the audience is me. I don’t want to see stats anywhere in the interface of this blog. I want an option to ignore all stats, to un-surface and de-prioritize them, to opt out of gaming myself.
Twitter followers, podcast download stats, blog post views, the scale, whatever. Life isn’t a video game. Happiness doesn’t have a numerical value attached to it.
Source: Hello, 2018
I love data and I hate stats. Not stats in abstract — statistics are great — but the kind of stats that seem to accompany any web activity. Number of followers, number of readers, number of viewers, etc. I hate them in the way that an addict hates that which she loves the most. My pulse quickens as I refresh the page to see if one more person clicked the link. As my eyes water and hours pass, I have to tear myself away from the numbers, the obsessive calculating that I do, creating averages and other statistical equations for no good reason. I gift my math-craving brain with a different addiction, turning to various games — these days, Yushino — to just get a quick hit of addition. And then I grumble, grumble at the increasing presence of stats to quantify and measure everything that I do.
When using WordPress, it’s easy to get the basic numbers of interest: how many visitors, from which part of the world etc. The next level is Google Analytics… what a plethora of settings and numbers! I stared at them all the time after a new post went up, it was exhausting. I thought about which posts get more visitors, what times are better to publish etc. It’s not directly the problem why I didn’t write more regularly, but it’s a reason why I don’t care about any stats anymore: it’s a distraction. There are no Google Analytics or anything enabled, and if I want analytics back at some point it will be something else.
I still haven’t looked at stats for Timetable. And I’ve resisted adding follower counts and page view stats to Micro.blog for the same reason. If all that drives you is the number of likes on a tweet, or subscribers to your podcast, it’s easy to get discouraged when the numbers don’t pan out. Or worse, overthink your writing when you know a bunch of people are paying attention.
Everyone has something to say. Write because you love it, or to become a better writer, or to develop an idea. The stats should be an afterthought.
So, getting a post read by “everyone” is harder than ever but reaching hundreds or low thousands of audience has never been easier.
By chasing audience we lose the ability to be ourselves. By writing for everyone we write for no one.
When you write for someone else’s publication your writing becomes disparate and UN-networked. By chasing scale and pageviews you lose identity and the ability to create meaningful, memorable connections within the network.
Source: Small b blogging
When I visit my blog admin, I want the default screen to be my writing, without numbers. Focus reflection on the thoughts and ideas themselves rather than their numerical impressions as mass content.
Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”.
And remember that you are your own audience! Small b blogging is writing things that you link back to and reference time and time again. Ideas that can evolve and grow as your thinking and audience grows.
As Venkatesh says in the calculus of grit – release work often, reference your own thinking & rework the same ideas again and again. That’s the small b blogging model.
Source: Small b blogging
For the vast majority of us practicing educator types, blogging and participating in social spaces is about reflection, plain and simple. Every time that you sit down behind the keyboard for any reason — whether that’s to join in a Twitterchat, to read bits that appear in your social streams, or to create a new bit on your own blog, you are an active learner.
Articulation of ideas — whether it comes in the short form of a Tweet or the long form of a blog post — requires you to think carefully about what you THINK you know. Finding the right words to express your core notions about teaching and learning forces you to wrestle with what you actually believe.
Every time we make the argument that audience matters, we forget that reflection matters more. Our goal shouldn’t be to #becomepopular. It should be to #becomebetter. Blogging and sharing in social spaces can help us to do that whether anyone is listening or not.
CC: @wordpressdotcom, where we’ve talked about changing the default screen from stats to the posts list for years. We find ourselves in an age of disinformation where fatigue with exponential growth and the stats driven disethics of tech and ed-tech is rapidly settling in; perhaps, the time is now.