Here are my top ten blogs of 2021:
- Maslow’s hierarchy of social media
- Visualisation: Information is power – just avoid drowning in data
- The heart of computer programming
- Are computers making us stupid?
- Web design and the science of communication
- Human-computer interaction: Can you see what it is yet?
- Codependency or Collaboration? Human-Computer Interaction: Dialogue, Conversation, Symbiosis (4)
- A Gacha guide to social anxiety on social media
- Yoga life on the edge
- Women centre stage
This year, I have had just over 1million hits in total, which is wonderful. When I blog here, I think it’s just me, my laptop, and the four walls, so it’s amazing to see that people show up to hear what I have to say. I am thrilled.
The cpanel also captures all of the entry and exit pages too, which took me back to my website usability consultancy of the 00s when sticky page creations and all of that SEO seemed like such a big deal to my clients. It also captures most ‘downloaded documents’ so it is good to know that in 2021, an accessibility checklist, which I wrote back in 2003 for the Chartered Institute of Management, was the most downloaded. Coming in last is my 20 year-old PhD thesis which got downloaded 40 times. Good to know that these documents are still useful. Nice! I might have to do a list of the blogs and documents which got no hits and no downloads this year too. I love me some numbers.
Most surprisingly of all was when I saw that I have only written 14 blogs in total this year, basically one a month, and none of them made it into the top 10 for this year.
In my mind I spend a lot of time thinking about blogging and normally, I try to keep a blog within the 1k range. The other day I gave up and posted a very long blog about the film Free Guy. In the past I may have cut it up and turned it into a series or just focused on a couple of points. This time, I didn’t, I just left it super long as I love getting a cup of tea and reading long, long articles in which people have lots to say, so I was curious about what would happen here if I did the same. I loved the process but it means that what might have been six blogs is only one.
Then I got to wondering what have I been doing all year if I’ve only done one blog a month. I took up painting which is amazing and DIY which is not. So far, I’ve written 14 posts about the DIY project in a separate blog as blogging about something makes me feel accountable. I called the blog Desperate DIY as I didn’t want to do it at all and it’s a snappy title. Doing a project this size whilst wishing I didn’t have to do it takes up a lot of my time and energy, but I am starting to see progress and I am learning new things about myself. So now it’s looking more positive and I am feeling more upbeat about it, I am starting to wish I had called it something else, something charming without the word desperate in it. Heigh-ho, we live and we learn.
Another reason why I didn’t blog so much this year, is that back in May, I did Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages (MPs) everyday, even though I got booted off the Alternative’s Artist’s Way course. Cameron says to write by hand, but my computer is my go-to and I have kept an electronic diary for years on my local server. That said, I always have a journal to open and write in. I love choosing a new one, pimping it up, writing down my best ideas in it, and sticking things in from old journals. However, when it comes to my fahlings (feelings), fingers on the home keys of my keyboard and typing my stream of consciousness is completely magic and so I was quite into the MPs for a while.
After 84 days and 90,000 words, I saw that my fahlings are basically the same every morning. When I wake up my mind is fresh and new and happy but, if I sit there for long enough forcing myself to write about anything that comes to mind, I start thinking about nonsense from the previous day, week, month, year, decade aaarrrghh. If I meditate and not think, I feel calm and happy. If I write about my thoughts in the focused way like the MPs want me to do, all of my feelings from all my yesterdays rush in and I feel tired and sad, instead of how it normally works, which is that all that shit gradually catches up with me throughout the day and at bedtime I write in my gratitude journal to get my mind reorganised into a peaceful state for bed.
After a couple of weeks of MPs, it seemed to me to be a terrible waste of energy which I could have used to write a book so once the 12 weeks were up, I sat down for the next 90 days and wrote 92,000 words of a novel. It is very rough around the edges but I enjoyed that very much and entertained myself a lot and now I have the first draft of a novel. I am going to make an effort to focus myself more often on happy-happy instead of drifting through life at the whim of my monkey mind.
The other thing I have been saying forever is that I want to write a book based on this blog but I just can’t seem to find a structure, as I have so many words and so many topics. Each year I think peering into my stats will guide me, but it never does, which is why I remain convinced that our love affair with big data isn’t taking us anywhere new and I may or may not write a book, and I may or may not care. It feels rather like the time we got a doula to come to hospital with me for when I went into labour, so I didn’t go alone, as the hubby had to stay behind to monitor our baby on her dialysis machine and take her off after the usual nightly 13 hours. Part of me was seriously hoping doula-woman would have the baby for me which would have been a darn sight more useful than her recommending that I twiddle me nipples. As it turned out, I had to have a scheduled caesarean as I was so overdue and we were all at risk, and so doula-woman turned out to be the most expensive babysitter in the world.
Anyway, I digress, peering at that stats, I did get some new thoughts about two old blogs which I want to share here:
1. Augmenting referees – why didn’t Piero help Uriah? is a blog I wrote back in 2007 as I watched a lot of football then, before I had kids, and the referees made so many errors of judgement which is understandable given the pace of a game and it made sense to me even back then to use technology. This year with lockdown and older kids, I enjoyed the Euros very much and their use of technology to support the referees. Today, it is very satisfying to see that my blog got a load of hits and it is still relevant and people were reading it all summer. (I am wondering now about compiling a list of blogs which are irrelevant.)
2. A day in the life of an outpatient got over a 2,311 views this year. This is in the blog we kept for two years when our baby was born with kidney failure, went on daily home dialysis and then had a kidney transplant all before she was two-years-old. The fact that at least six people per day, everyday, for the last 365 days, somewhere in the world have stopped by to read it shows me the power of sharing our stories. But even if it had just been one person on one day getting some comfort from reading it, then sharing that hard story from our lives is so worth it. I talked about rereading the blog this year here: Invested in your life. In the past, it was too hard and I was too sad but we have kept the blog online because we know it helps someone. The stats confirm what we know for sure.
Reading that particular blogpost yesterday made me cry as it was a record of when my mum (mam) came to stay. The memory is precious as that was basically the last time my mum was herself. She was hospitalised around the time of my baby girl’s transplant and continued to deteriorate sadly and slowly up until she died three years ago. I went as often as I physically could manage in between a second baby, transplant – all its complications and follow up surgeries, and then my own two years of cancer treatment – multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
I felt complicated grief for a long time when I thought about my parents (my dad unexpectedly died in 2012) but this year as we approach Christmas my feelings are now straightforward. Simply put, I miss both my parents and the family of which I used to a part. I guess now that my tender heart has grown around and absorbed this grief, it is easier to remember the love and laughter we shared and I feel loss and sadness that I will never see them again. This year, I will try to embrace the sadness along with all of the joy I have yet to experience during this season.
I love blogging and I thank you for reading what I write. I take nothing for granted and I am very grateful you are here spending your time in my thoughts when you could be somewhere else right now. How amazing you are for being here and so it only remains to wish you:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
And, I send you all my love,