Clustr-ed

On February 14, 2010 · 2 Comments

You might notice something a little different on the left sidebar of the Twelve Mile Circle today. I’ve decided to add a ClustrMap after greater soul-searching and internal debate that you might image. You may be wondering why this was a difficult choice. After all, what would be more appropriate for a geo-oddities blog than a nicely rendered world map of visitor locations?

I’m still not absolutely certain I’ll keep it and I’ll tell you why:

My natural inclination towards privacy is battling with my geographic tendencies. My concern is that regular readers will be revealed over time, especially ones arriving on the site from rural areas. I draft two or three articles a week and I know from my weblogs that a number of loyal readers visit each time I post something new (thank you!). Multiply that by a few months and it will produce a fairly significant dot in the range of 100-999 visits. I temper this somewhat because of the low resolution of the map. It’s difficult to pinpoint exact locations even with the large world map that results from someone clicks the image on my website.

It also serves as a constant reminder to me and to anyone else on the Intertubes that the community of geo-oddity aficionados is pretty small. Personally I believe there should be tens of thousands if not millions of like minded individuals interested in the 45X90 spot. You and I know that but we’re connoisseurs of anomalies. Inexplicably, however, that’s not the case with the rest of the general public.

Nowhere else do I spend so much time for such a select readership. I love doing this because I’m constantly learning new things. Understanding that a few people seem to enjoy this and actually take the time to comment on my posts also helps. But do I really need to have those numbers thrown in my face every day?

If it were all about hit counts I’d probably focus my energy on my ferry pages. It’s not unusual, for example, for my Lake Michigan Car Ferry page to get more visitors on a mid-summer day than the entirety of the Twelve Mile Circle combined. Most of those visitors are one-and-out and never return to the site so there’s less satisfaction I suppose.

There are good reasons to keep the map, too:

Google Analytics does not provide enough advanced features for what I need. The price is right (free) but you get what you pay for. Analytics includes great statistics from a summary level but it can’t segment data except in narrow prescribed bands. If I were to design my blog from scratch today, knowing what I know now, I would place it on a separate domain and all would be wonderful. However I didn’t do that two years ago when I started the Twelve Mile Circle and Google Analytics doesn’t give me a way to use a full set of tools for just one portion of my website. I can’t produce an equivalent of a ClustrMap for the Twelve Mile Circle chunk of my website.

Also I’ve noticed that other geography-based websites that I enjoy and respect use ClustrMaps: Geographic Travels and Annals of Geography 2.0 come to mind. If it’s good enough for them, I figure, it’s sufficient for me too.

Anyway I’ll give it a try, see if I’m happy with it and decide later whether to keep it or ditch it.

Speaking of visitors:

It’s been about a month since I received a first visitor from a country I hadn’t previously recorded on the website. Most of them seem to have been from the South Pacific in recent months. This morning I received my first visitor from someplace completely different: Kyrgyzstan. You won’t find a record of it on my ClustrMap. This visitor stopped by my United States Ferry Map page. It’s a mystery to me what someone from Kyrgyzstan would want to know about ferries in the United States but maybe I gave them a useful answer.

On February 14, 2010 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Clustr-ed”

  1. Many thanks for the well-considered analysis and posting (which we found randomly via blogsearch.google.com)!

    As a measure of our gratitude, we’re happy to upgrade you to ClustrMaps+ at no cost (no more ads, more custom thumbnail map styles via the Map Styles tab on your Admin page, better zoomed-in continent maps), but it occurs to us that you may NOT want the finer resolution of the better maps! Have a look at the continent maps by following through fromthe thumbnail map on our own home page at http://www.clustrmaps.com and let us know if you’re happy with this.

    All the best,

    -CJ on behalf of the ClustrMaps Team

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