The high court injunction I received a few days ago inspired me to check the statistics page for my blog to try and figure out how many people actually read it, and by happy accident it turned out that I was only a few days away from my two millionth page view which will happen sometime today. This graph shows monthly readership since I started the blog back in mid-2008.
The big trough is my summer sabbatical. Average number of views on a weekday is about 6,000. On weekends it’s much lower. Average visit length is 3.40 minutes.
I do juke the stats. People mostly read blogs when they’re supposed to be working, so I often write a post in the evening to be read first thing in the morning when everyone gets into the office (as I’m doing now). Then in the very early hours of the morning I read the news and write something time delayed to be posted at about 10 AM when people take their coffee breaks. And I’ll generally post something brief at lunchtime. If I haven’t eaten this will be something horrible about one of the news websites. If I’m fed I’m generally more good-natured and less predictable.
For someone who lives in Wellington I am surprisingly out of the loop. I know some journalists, and some press secretaries, and a couple of MPs, but most of my observations are made by observing the process via the media. I’m frequently wrong, but I like to think I’m wrong on my own terms and not through buying into the groupthink that often dominates political classes. I’m also wrong in good faith – I believe all those inaccurate statements and false predictions when I write them. I don’t assert them because I want to deceive my readers, or because I’m paid to promote a certain party or lobby group, which goes to show that my business sense is as poor as my political insight.
My wife Maggie works in the press gallery, and some of my writing incorporates her inside knowledge and the sundry gossip she picks up, but far less so than you might think. If a big story breaks and I call her to find out what’s happening she’ll generally just tell me to stop bothering her, and she often refuses to discuss politics when she gets home from the office, or, if she will talk politics she frequently precedes her commentary with statements like: ‘that thing you posted on your blog today was such bullshit.’ So she is less useful to me than you’d expect.
In philosophical terms I’m what liberal thinkers call a value pluralist: I believe that many of the values our society strives for are in basic conflict with one another, and the best we can achieve at resolving these conflicts is a series of unhappy compromises, beneath which the ground constantly shifts. So I don’t believe in utopia, or the class war. I do believe that in the last thirty years the balance has tipped far too far in the direction of the values prized by the wealthiest and most privileged members of society, which leads to a system that preserves and maximises their wealth and privilege.
I believe that the free market is an excellent solution to problems of value and allocation of scarce resources. I don’t think it has magical powers. It is not moral.
I am now a convert to twitter, and I check it a few times a day and make occasional tweets, so if you like you can click the link in the sidebar and join the scores of spam twitter accounts that started following me after I made a sarcastic comment about Prince William.