As the year winds down, it is an appropriate time to reflect on it, and also to plan for 2012. At this time last year, I set some goals for my blog in 2011, and although not all were reached, the most important one was: I wrote articles consistently throughout the entire year.
The lesson that I take from this is that an ambitious goal may be reached by setting many small achievable ones. In 2011, I posted 61 articles. While some might call these posts, my readers will defend me when I say that my written pieces are not typical "posts" just as this site is not a typical "blog". My articles are usually about 1,000 words, but sometimes 2,000 words. If the average post is 1,200 words, then I wrote over 73,000 words on various topics within the realm of science and engineering over the course of this year.
It would seem daunting to commit to the goal of writing 73,000 words in a year, particularly if it were done on the side, like a hobby, as is the case for me. I mean, this many words could easily fill a full fledged book. I instead committed myself to write about one article per week. As each article represents a very reasonable task on its own, the final result, while it appears grandiose when surveyed as a whole, was arrived at without much stress or concern.
I am happy to report that the audience for my blog grew steadily throughout the year. To be sure, my articles have not gone viral - I remain jealous of the viewership of YouTube videos of cats rolling around in vomit, which easily generate millions of hits just days upon their uploading. I suppose my site is more like a slowly growing bacteria; I like to think that my blog is going bacterial.
During the month of January 2011, I had just over 400 hits. Over the last three months of this year, the blog averaged 3,000 hits. While these numbers are not huge by any measure, I am still excited that thousands of people around the world are taking the time to read my words, which include some fairly in-depth discussions of reasonably complex content. There are no cute cats on my site, nor is there anything gross or shocking. Visitors to my blog have a head on their shoulders, and in general, have an earnest desire to be informed about new technologies and scientific discoveries. I would describe my current audience as small but mighty.
All this being said, never before 2011 could I state that thousands of people have taken the time to consume anything that I produced. And, although the comments board is not as busy as I'd hoped it would be this year, there have been many interesting and thoughtful comments posted by many. Thanks to all who have taken the time to continue the discussions that I try to stimulate within my articles. The nice thing about receiving just a few comments every week is that I can easily keep up with them, and post responses. Please, keep them coming.
This year, I posted about topics ranging from aerospace to quantum physics to God. And, despite all of the deep, existential discussions, which seem to me to be the most intriguing, the most read article of mine this year, was "Why Don't Airplanes Flap Their Wings?" which was read by 860 people. This tells me that people want to know how every day technologies work. I will continue to discuss technologies that we take for granted in 2012, and if a few more people understand the basic principles behind the tools with which they interact through a quick read on my site, then I am happy for it.
In the month of March, I had Aerospace Month. As this was a relative success, I plan on having one or more themed months in 2012 - I am leaning towards an "Energy Month".
One other important addition in 2011 was the "For Physics Students" page, which I have been building. In truth, "The Engineer's Pulse" has become much more student-centered than I had originally planned for. Many of my favourite articles to write are inspired from content that I teach, and writing the articles empowers me to give clearer and more compelling lectures. The truth is that even if this blog never becomes very 'popular', it will not have been a wasted effort, as it has proven itself to be an extremely useful teaching tool for me.
That being said, please do not hesitate to pass my articles along via whatever means (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to anyone whom you know that may find them interesting. Do you know any science-minded students or tech-savvy adults? Send them my way.
I wish all of you a prosperous 2012. Oh, and by the way, I have seen the future, and I am glad to report that the world does not end. On the downside, Donald Trump gets elected as the President of the United States. Hmm, maybe that is the end that the Mayans were referring to all along.