Tag Archives: readership

Amplified intelligence

Decorative imageNotebooks have been used for centuries to extend people’s minds while computers and smart phones have taken the extension to a new level.  I find myself using the more than 500 posts in this blog as an extension of my brain.  Not only to recall information but to reconstruct thought processes and ideas.  Perhaps it is idleness or just faster than waiting for my neurons to shuffle through options until they reassemble the pattern that I am looking for.  Of course, this blog is a very public extension of my mind and was accessed from more than 140 countries last year, as it has been every year since 2016, based on data from WordPress.  It is difficult to estimate the total readership of the blog because it is published through several media but last year it appeared to increase substantially.  I started posting in July 2012 [see ‘Why RealizeEngineering?‘] but only started weekly posts ten years ago this week on January 7th 2013 with ‘Renewable Energy?‘.  Today’s post is number 548.

A cyberneticist, W. Ross Ashby coined the term ‘amplified intelligence’ to describe the role of computers in extending our minds [W. Ross Ashby, An Introduction to Cybernetics, William Clowes & Sons, 1956].

Image: Painting in the possession of the author.

500th post

Map of all readership distributionThis is the five hundredth post on this blog.  The first 21 posts were published randomly between July 11th, 2012, and January 4th, 2013; and the weekly posts only started on January 7th, 2013, so I have another 48 posts to publish before I can claim a decade of weekly posts.  Nevertheless, I feel it is worth shouting about 500 posts.

I am a little surprised to realise that I have written five hundred posts and it has made me pause to think about why I write them.  A number of answers came to mind, including because I enjoy writing – it empties my mind and allows me to move on to new thoughts or, on other occasions, it allows me to arrange my thoughts into some sort of order.  I also write posts to communicate ideas, to disseminate research, to entertain and to fulfill a commitment, initially to funding bodies (I started the blog as part of commitment to Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award) but increasingly to readers of the blog.  I am amazed that for the last five years the blog has been read in more 140 countries.  While I have a handful of statistics about the readership, beyond the small handful of readers who correspond with me or who I meet in person, I have no idea who reads the blog.  Most of time I do not give much thought to who is reading my posts and my intended reader is a rather vague fuzzy figure who barely exists in my mind.

The map shows the distribution of all readers over the 500 posts with the darker colour indicating more readers per country.

Six NYC subway trains

Distribution of blog visitors in 2014

Distribution of blog visitors in 2014 (from WordPress.com)

It would take six New York City subway trains to hold the number of visitors to this blog last year, according the Annual Report sent to me by WordPress.com.  That’s more than double the number of visitors in 2013 which is quite an impressive increase.  The visitors came from more 100 countries which makes it a truly global blog, unless I have some globe-trotting readers who visited all of those countries between them during 2014.

The blog is also being published on Tumblr now, which my youngest daughter told me would be a waste of time because users of Tumblr are not interested in the sort of things I write about. However, an original objective of the blog was to increase public understanding of engineering and so this is small step to reach a wider public.

I wrote 54 posts last year so that there are more 120 posts in the archive now of which the five most frequently read are, in descending order:

Closed systems in nature? published on December 21st, 2012

100 Everyday engineering examples published on April 23rd, 2014

Small is beautiful published on October 10th, 2012

Benford’s law published on August 15th, 2014

Zen and entropy published on December 11th, 2013

If you only started reading the blog recently or you are visiting for the first time then you might enjoy some these old favourites.