Was it worth the effort? Yes, for two reasons. First, there is the amount of offline positive feedback and the steadily increasing number of visits/month, hence having provided some added-value at least to some readers. Second, it contributed to making me a more efficient and attentive reader and conference attendee, and it improved my communication skills in describing scientific results informally and succinctly. To be clear, though, it most likely did not improve my job prospects directly (perhaps even on the contrary) and the time spent on writing the blog posts surely could have been used to churn out another paper; irrespective of these two considerations, it was fun to do.
The vast blog-o-sphere is an impressive 127 posts richer thanks to the existence of keet blog. Some posts received many more hits than I ever thought it would generate (top-down and bottom-up ontology development, CS & IT with/for biology, and musings about multi-tasking vs. parallel processing and the brain), while others much less (like the one announcing I successfully defended my PhD thesis, on the transformation relation, and relation migration). The surprising thing, to me at least, is that despite (the general idea) that blog posts have a short reading/attention/lifespan, many of my posts somehow have been picked up by search engines and keep generating traffic thanks to those searches, including the older ones. Sensible search terms people used to arrive at my blog include, among many, ontology, ORM, handbook on KR, dl2010 etc., but there are also rather peculiar ones that still refer to older posts like this month’s search terms “incompetence blog” that presumably returned the post about the Dunning-Kruger effect I wrote about in mid 2008 and “random structure of website” (this post from >2 years ago has something to do with it). If there were some sort of an ‘ISI blog impact factor’—say, hits/day over the past month—then keet blog would be utterly insignificant, whereas with a ‘more-sensible-than-ISI [blog] impact factor’ spanning, say, 5 years, then my blog would be less insignificant on the absolute scale of blog impact.
Relatively, though, the past year generated consistently >1000 visits/month, and last month even >1600 visits, which is not that bad for a mostly ‘boring science blog’—even if only 10% of the visitors would actually read the posts. To make it less ‘boring’, there are occasional posts on science-society-entertainment (such as the complexity of coffee and culinary evolution) and trivia (e.g., htmlgraph). Posts on Computer Science & Society generate wildly varying amounts of visits (such as the Aperitivo Informatico, SA women in STI, or the ICT for Peace entries). A teasing headline like “what philosophers say about computer science” works surprisingly well. By the way, do you remember who said: “The future of our home country necessarily has to be a future of scientists”?
What about ‘pure’ computer science posts, including the shameless self-promotion of announcing accepted papers I am (co-)author of? Some posts have generated relatively many visits: all posts about ontology-based data access, all posts of the Semantic Web Technologies course that provided merely an introduction to each lecture, and CS conference blogging posts. One well-visited post made it almost verbatim into a EU project deliverable and several posts (e.g., here, here & here, and here) were preludes to papers that have been published in the meantime.
As for my own research, the number of hits of the posts is more often than not at the lower end of the scale, with granularity (my PhD thesis topic) and ontology engineering mixed. So, well, yes, indeed it seems that writing about just about anything except my own research papers makes the blog ‘popular’. If you think that sounds depressing, then think again: the vast majority of scientific papers are mostly ignored anyway, and the other researchers’ work I chose to write about is a very small selection not only of what has been published but also of what I’ve read (and I read a lot).
I have updated the list of all blog post for easy reference (and thereby possibly rescuing the odd post from complete obscurity.) For those of you curious how many visits one or the other post got: the vox populi page contains a list with the 20 most visited posts and their respective number of visits.
I have not decided if I want to go on with it for another five years, but neither did I think keet blog would last for five years when I created the blog on WordPress on April 8, 2006, and started shortly after that with a first note. Many a blog fizzles out quickly, so I am somewhat proud of having kept it up for 5 years and steadily increasing its popularity—one post at a time.
Last, but most certainly not least, to all readers and [on-/off-]line commentators: a big thank you for your interest and feedback!