31 March 2011

Tumblr enables (temporary) digital wildfire.

That post I put up yesterday about the burning crater in Derweze sent my stats completely through the roof.

This is how it happened: I tweeted it. Faris RTed it. Zeb saw this and put it on his Tumblr, crediting Faris. At some point ABC World News reblogged it. Some combination of these things is what brought me from an average of 100 unique visitors a day to 4,693 in 24 hours.

There are a couple of observations here, one of them being very obvious.

1. This would not have happened a few years ago, to this scale.

Yeah, I know, duh. But it's so interesting to me because: Prior to the Derweze crater post, the thing that got me the most hits was the photography project where I ate monochromatically for a week. Mental Floss wrote about it, which gave me 700 visits in one day. Then CNN featured the link to the story in a side bar, and I got 500 more. This was before Tumblr was widespread - before it was so easy to pass a story along by reblogging it (or even Liking it on Tumblr). Mental Floss and CNN are usually the types of platforms that have the most reach online, but by putting this sharing behavior into anybody's hands and making it easy, you can really get strength in numbers. I wrote about something equally insane as the burning crater - The Boston Molasses Disaster - nearly 3 years ago, and the web didn't even notice. I wonder if Tumblr is eventually going to tip the proportions of The 1% rule at all?

2. This is not necessarily an indicator of "success."

Yes, this is huge scale for me - eight times as many unique visitors as I, on average, usually get (this is awesome). But it doesn't indicate depth of engagement (which I care about a lot). You know how many comments I got on the Derweze post (as of now)? Four. How many of these 4,700 visitors are going to be back this time, next week? Who knows. If you're reading this, you're either a regular reader, or maybe you got curious about what else I talk about here and clicked on my masthead via the Door To Hell post. Either is great, but going the extra step to comment, come back, even subscribe (!) is what I really love.

So, hi! And if you're new, do stay. I write about the weird and fascinating things I find sometimes, just like the burning crater. Like this:

  • There's a $9 million vault in Norway that holds 250 million of the world's seeds
  • An engineer at GE studied butterfly wings to make better security sensors
  • A fifteen-foot wave of molasses tore through Boston in 1919, killing 41 and injuring 150

  • My point: This is exciting. And has the potential to be even more so. I guess that second part is up to me ;)
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