June 9th, 2009


Howard Hughes and the Unctuous Imbroglio

Steady rain here in Providence, and cool weather, and I suppose I should be glad for it. This time last year, we were in the midst of a heatwave, and having to leave the house and seek sanctuary in the AC of the Peace Dale Public Library. But this weather only makes me want to sleep.

And I am beginning to get the feeling that I'm talking to myself, here, in this blog. I've noted that comments are way down for blogs on my friend's list, and I've known that LJ readership (and that of other actual blogging services) has been in decline for a couple of years. There's this article, from January, which states:

"While LiveJournal execs are apparently blaming the slowdown in the economy and ad spending, stats point to an overall decline in interest in the medium. Both LiveJournal and competitor Xanga have seen their traffic decline over the past two years, as social networks like Facebook and MySpace have come to dominate the demographics that the blogging sites target."

I suspect Twitter and Facebook are the worst of the competition. They offer hyper-brevity, instant gratification, and cater to an attention-deficit society that is ever less interested in investing the time required to read (or write) more than 140 characters at a time. And I hate seeing this, as I've grown awfully attached to this journal. I've been writing it going on eight years now. But...I see a decline. The aforementioned silence, and the sense that I'm only talking to myself (which, ironically, is the original function of a journal).


Yesterday, I managed only 536 words on "The Alchemist's Daughter." There was dithering, and then I just sort of froze. Here it is the 9th of June, and the story should be finished. Instead, yesterday, I finally reached a point where it seemed the height of folly that I'd chosen to write an elaborate Dunsanian fantasy (complete with Dunsanian language) for Sirenia Digest #43, when I'm so pressed for time just now. So, I resolved to shelve the story, cut my loses, and maybe come back to the piece later. Spooky and Sonya, who've both read what's been written so far, like how the story's coming along, but...well, I don't know. And this morning, when I ought to have a new idea for a vignette, I'm still dithering over whether or not to actually shelve "The Alchemist's Daughter."

My thanks to everyone who's bid in the current round of eBay auctions. We're looking to completely defer the costs of my attending ReaderCon next month. So, if you haven't bid, please have a look.

Yesterday evening, after the writing, and after the dithering, we ferried a load of boxes to our storage unit in Pawtuket. It was mostly boxes of eBay stock that we needed to get out of the house. And later, I began reading the book on Krakatoa that I found at Myopic Books on Sunday, and we watched Jessica Yu's splendid documentary on the life and work of outsider artist Henry Darger, In the Realms of the Unreal (2004).

Afterwards, we played WoW, and Shaharrazad and Suraa both reached Level 70. As soon as I hit 70, I checked to see how long it had taken me (by typing "/played"), and discovered I'd spent a total of 23 days, 2 hours, and 32 seconds playing Shaharrazad since she was created back in September, either very late on the 27th or very early on the 28th. Though we can level no farther without the "Lich King" expansion, I see no reason to purchase it anytime soon. After all, there are hundreds upon hundreds of quests remaining in both Outland and Azeroth, dungeons we haven't done, reputation and titles to be earned, and so forth. I've grown oddly attached to Shah, and have, in my mind, concocted an elaborate back story, present motivations, and so forth, though there's been virtually no rp, and none of Shah's story has been written down.

Later still, we read more of Andrea Barrett's The Voyage of the Narwhal.

And the platypus says I need to find the end of this entry, that there's more dithering to be done, and, besides, sheheit reminds me, no one's going to read this anyway, as I passed the 140-character mark some 3,171 characters ago.

Postscript (12:16 a.m.): What seems like a very appropriate footnote to this entry, I just received the following email:

"Maybe you're interested to know that you're ranked at #23 on the SciFi & Fantasy Novels blogs top 50 in blogRank.


This list tracks close to 20,000 blogs and evaluates them based on 16 different factors. The algorithm we use is far superior to any other, IMHO. It just took us over 8 months to develop this. I would love to hear your feedback."

Twitter loyalty and Twitter statistics.

Some interesting Twitter data has been brought to my attention today. Chiefly, a new study by a researcher at the Harvard Business School (Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan. "Networks as covers: Evidence from an on-line social network.") which used a random sampling of 300,000 Twitter users during May of 2009. Among other things, the study shows that "...the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets," and that, in this respect, "...Twitter's resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network." Here's a link to the online report on the study.

Pikorski finds "Twitter's usage patterns are also very different from a typical on-line social network. A typical Twitter user contributes very rarely. Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days." And there's some very intriguing stuff in this article on gender and Twitter.

Also, there's a piece at CNet on the lack of loyalty displayed by Twitter users towards the service, as compared to MySpace and Facebook: "Twitter Quitters Post Roadblock to Long-Term Growth" by David Martin, Vice President, Primary Research, Nielsen Online.

Martin writes, "Currently, more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent."

Curious stuff. I also was unaware that Twitter got a 100% boost from an Oprah mention, though the boost doesn't appear to be translating into repeat offenders.