The recently concluded year marks the first complete calendar cycle for my Twelve Mile Circle. By now I’ve sweated and obsessed over the web logs in typical fashion and seen what conclusions I can draw. Most visibly, only the splash page even cracks the Top 25 on my website. This was the year when one of my other obsessions — ferryboats — began to draw a lot of attention as it pushed other topics further down in the rankings. Those ferry pages are tough to put together but once they’re done it’s a set-it-and-forget-it experience except for spidering the links occasionally to keep them fresh.
Twelve Mile Circle is completely different. I admit that I enjoy the intellectual challenge of coming up with topics and researching them. It’s a bonus that a handful of like-minded people actually read them and seem to enjoy them. Getting comments is great fun and validating, too. But the fact remains that I’d write them it even if nobody ever read them once they left my fingertips. This is not a rational pursuit.
Even so, various pages on Twelve Mile Circle get more readership than others. In case you’re interested, here are the Top 10 topics on Twelve Mile Circle from 2008.
- The Smallest County in the United States series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). Collectively these are by far the most popular pages on Twelve Mile Circle. A surprisingly amount of traffic comes directly from people who type a specific Snapple "Real Fact" into a search engine. Snapple’s claim is wrong by the way: Manhattan is by no means the smallest county in the United States no matter how many asterisks one tries to place upon it. Another county will always come up smaller in every regard. Iced tea bottle caps are not an optimal choice for secondary source material. Kids, remember that the next time you have a research assignment.
- Arizona Does Not Recognize Daylight Saving Time. This one goes through an odd semiannual hibernation, waking up to great activity when standard and daylight savings time trade places, only to snuggle back to sleep for another six months.
- The Wisconsin Floods in the Summer of 2008. I wrote a couple of dispatches from the northland during a period of unusual flooding last summer: Wisconsin Floods and Lake Delton is Gone. These still get steady traffic primarily due to online photo searches that come across to the awesome picture I took of the house on Lake Delton that split in half after the channel broke beneath it. I understand that the lake is fixed now so my little walk through its stump-filled trough was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Australia’s Highest Elevation. This page got picked-up by an overseas travel blog that sent a bunch of traffic my way. I like this posting because it is completely counterintuitive unless you know the secret.
- Double Landlocked Countries. I think this might be a common trivia question because search queries deliver people here all the time.
- GPS and Genealogy. Ah yes, the outhouse posting. I was attempting to tie together two activities I enjoy immensely, geography and genealogy, by demonstrating the potential of GPS technology for personal history research. I provided several examples to demonstrate the point. One of them happened to be a privy from the farm of a family ancestor that was donated to a museum and is now part of its permanent collection. A genealogy blog featured the post and sent a bunch of traffic to the site. Naturally they highlighted the outhouse at the expense of the rest of the article. Serious efforts will be trumped by potty humor.
- Georgia Border Dispute. Georgia has been in a protracted drought. Many of its reservoirs remain below capacity especially in the northwestern part of the state. One legislator decided that perhaps he could reopen an old border dispute and push the state line a couple miles further into Tennessee to tap into one of their reservoirs. It’s a somewhat lighthearted spat that foreshadows more serious confrontations that will spread as population growth and climate change collide. I also got a lot of hits when Russia invaded the country of Georgia last year; wrong Georgia of course but the search engines couldn’t tell them apart.
- Highest and Lowest, Oh So Close. One small corner of California contains the highest mountain in the Lower 48 States and the lowest elevation in North America, both within surprisingly close proximity.
- Automatic Geolocation on a BlackBerry. I sat in a hotel room while on a business trip with nothing much to do, so I started playing with the mapping features on a BlackBerry. What, don’t you turn to maps for entertainment when you’re bored, too? This page gets traffic from two very different sources: a BlackBerry blog that links to it; and search engine queries from people wondering whether the government can track them down.
- USA States Called Commonwealths. Frankly, I don’t know why this one generates traffic. It’s an amusing fact, for me anyway, but I’m surprised anyone else cares. Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, by the way.
Oh, and if you ever want an index of every article ever posted on Twelve Mile Circle, you can look here. I still haven’t found a good way to present this using this particular WordPress template. Maybe someday.
All the best in 2009.