Milestones / Baby steps

Eugene von Guerard’s famous 1855 painting of Tower Hill in western Victoria

Dear readers, thanks to your enthusiastic support, my blog hit three big ‘milestones’ last fortnight.

  • Yesterday it reached 20,000 page views.
  • Two weeks ago, the 100th subscriber (or follower) joined up – welcome!
  • And, most surprising of all, the most popular post has now been viewed over 1,000 times, which I find quite extraordinary.

I know these Milestones are Baby Steps compared to the traffic on big, popular blog sites. And I’m sure I’d generate a lot more traffic if I wrote more on The Ecological Wisdom of Lady Gaga. But, since everybody’s baby steps are equally important, thank you for regularly reading my stories, subscribing to the site, and sending in comments.

As a socially inept, Facebook-free, non-Twitterer, I’m grateful to everyone who has shared links to my stories on Twitter and Facebook. It helps me reach a bigger audience than I can achieve from the blog site alone. Please keep it up.

Looking back over 18 months of blogging, it’s interesting to see which stories were most popular. It’s a curious mix of entertainment and education. The Top Five are:

  1. Art vs Science: von Guérard’s pot plants – on landscape paintings.
  2. Fire and rain: what makes a woodland? – on savannah trees and fires.
  3. Steve Packard was my Steve Jobs – unabashed hero-worship (thanks to the Chicago restorationists for circulating this story).
  4. Bush encroachment: a global view – you can guess what this is about.
  5. Fire and rain #2: water for ironbarks – musings on the ecology of box-ironbark forests.

I suspect that lots of students (from here, there and everywhere) have read the savannah and encroachment blogs, as page views skyrocket every so often, just before assignments are due.

WordPress provides enough stats to satisfy the most neurotic and narcissistic of the world’s bloggers, so I’ll regale you with one more list. Many of my posts include pictures that can be enlarged by clicking on them. Presumably, the pictures that were clicked most often interested the most readers. The three most popular pictures of all time – and please note the admirable absence of kittens and cats – are (insert drum roll here):

#1. Surprise, surprise, von Guerard’s classic painting of Tower Hill, shown at the top of this post, tops the list.

#2. This photo, from a story on woodland seed banks, of John Morgan lecturing to a class at Inverleigh Nature Conservation reserve, has been downloaded heaps. John obviously has way more kitten appeal than I do.

John Morgan describes past vegetation changes at Inverleigh Nature Conservation Reserve

#3. This was a surprise… Last month’s fun picture of animal shapes in the trees has gone positively ‘viral’ (by my lofty standards)…


Great to see that lots of you tried hard to find the dog and the dolphin.

If you’ve joined recently, three older blogs that I like, that haven’t been viewed often, may interest you:

  1. Interact, said the tortoise to the hare – on competition between tree seedlings.
  2. Woodlands on TV! – A video clip on restoration from the ABC’s Catalyst science show.
  3. Stake your future – on long-term monitoring.

Finally, to reward you all for ploughing through 500 words of chest-thumping, I leave you with a link to the most amazing ecological documentary on the radio.

If you ever thought science documentaries would be reeaally interesting if they weren’t so damn boooring, then listen to this. It’s a story on the global invasion of Argentine Ants, from the best-produced and most sonically exciting ‘science show’ in the world, Radiolab. After a few listens to Radiolab, you’ll wonder why we invented TV. You’ll certainly never think of it as a ‘science show’. To quote from the show’s trailer:

From a suburban sidewalk in southern California, Jad and Robert witness the carnage of a gruesome turf war. Though the tiny warriors doing battle clock in at just a fraction of an inch, they have evolved a surprising, successful, and rather unsettling strategy of ironclad loyalty, absolute intolerance, and brutal violence.

Please enjoy…

Click on the arrow to play the clip. If the audio player doesn’t work for you, you can listen to the podcast here or download the mp3 file here.

Thanks again and best wishes, Ian.


6 thoughts on “Milestones / Baby steps

  1. Congratulations on the milestones, Ian!
    On those tree animal shapes:
    Upper left – At first I thought it a velvet worm (Onychophora), but more likely Lepidoptera: Sphingidae larva (hornworm), head right, caudal end left.
    Lower left – Angler fish vacuums up an indeterminate sea slug.
    Lower right – Horsehair worm (Nematomorpha)
    Lowest right – Diptera: Tephtritidae fly with the sun gliinting off its eye and wings
    Upper right – Midsection of some indeterminate snake species with bold lateral stripes.
    Middle – Not an animal at all, but the trees’ attempt to recreate the profile of Tower HIll

  2. well done Ian (and thanks for the plug – of course I have more appeal than a kitten!).

    Blogging is an interesting way to get messages out to an audience that you might not otherwise be able to do. By comparison, what’s your most cited paper.I know this doesn’t equate to how many people have read it, but as a metric of ‘successful’ adoption of your work, I’d be interested to know.

    Look forward to your next update. I really enjoy your writing and take on issues.

    • Hi John, thanks for your comment. As you say, I’m not sure that a comparison of blog page hits and paper citations is all that relevant. If nothing more, I’d expect lots more people to read a short blog than a long detailed paper, and both reach very different audiences.

      A better analogy may be to giving public seminars, and counting the number of people at each talk. By this analogy, 20,000 page hits from 40-odd blogs equates to some really big audiences!

      As a caveat, I’m sure that lots of people who find the web site don’t actually read it (especially if they reach it from a google search on a specific search term), but then again lots of people at talks are busy texting and day-dreaming too!

      You can see all my citations at this link, courtesy of Google Scholar. You should set up a profile like this too, is really simple and Google will automatically add all your new papers and track their citations for you – quite amazing really.

      Thanks again, best wishes Ian

  3. Shared this milestone on Blog Nation’s Ecology Blogs FB page. Congratulations!!! Looking forward to many more provocative posts.
    Elizabeth Fitch
    Public Relations Coordinator

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