Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Ten years on

The first post of this blog was published on April 22, 2008, or ten years ago. I wrote several earlier progress reports. It is time for a new one, especially because of the festive nature of ten years of blogging. Well, more or less, because the rate of new posts has been low in the past few years. More on that later. 

Let's start with a comparison with 5 years ago, when I also wrote a progress report. Then, there had been 307,000 page views according to the blogger 'stats' page, and now the counter stands at 639,478 views. I am not altogether certain that all these visits represent actual people; perhaps there were bots  as well. What is certain is that I had written 197 posts five years ago, whereas the counter now stands at 233 posts, so it is obvious I wrote more posts in the first five than the second five years.  There were 1638 comments in all, and I must say that I enjoy the interactions. The comments have quite often made me think a bit harder about what the project, and gave rise to new animals on more than one occasion. Thanks to all who read my posts with such enthusiasm!

The 'stats' section also tells me what the most-visited posts were over these ten years. Here they are, with their previous ranking from five years ago between parentheses:

1. (1) Swimming in Sand 1: the Sandworms of Dune; 5 Feb 2011; 8854 views       
2. (5) A future book on future evolution from France; 19 Nov 2011; 6239 views       
3. (4) Avatar's 'Walking with hexapods'; 11 Feb 2010; 4862 views
4. (2) Warren Fahy's "Fragment"; 8 Aug 2010; 4010 views                   
5. (-) Future evolution from France: 'Demain, les animaux...; 30 May 2015; 3327 views
6. (3) A century of thoats; 5 May 2012; 2996 views
7. (-) Create your own planet (using Celestia); 13 Aug 2011; 2717 views   
8. (-) The anatomy of giants in 'Game of Thrones'; 11 Jun 2016; 2661 views           
9. (9) Ballooning animals and Newtonian fitness; 15 Jul 2011; 2338 views   
10. (-) Second part of a review of 'Demain, les animaux...; 13 Jun 2015; 1958 views   

There are four newcomers in the top-10, but it seems that the sandworms of Dune are unbeatable. My French friends Marc Boulay and S├ębastien Steyer will be pleased to learn that their work occurs no less than three times in the top-10: first as an announcement in 2011, and then as a two-part review in 2015. I hope that this signals an immense interest in books on speculative biology, because that would be good more my own project: The Book.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk
Some of you may recall that I had announced that I would spend less time blogging to have more time to work on The Book. The graph above shows the cumulative number of blog posts in red, from 0 in 2008 to 233 now (the present one excluded), as well as the cumulative number of spreads in blue, starting in 2011. A spread is a two-page account of a species, a chapter introduction, or of any topic worthy of devoting two pages to. The number of spreads started in 2011 because I had made the switch to digital painting and started collecting the slowly increasing number of spreads in an InDesign manuscript. I am at present working on the fiftieth spread, so within a short while the manuscript will have exactly 100 pages. Not bad, hey?

But did the reduction of blogging benefit The Book? The two vertical red lines indicate the post in 2014 in which I announced a temporary stop, and the one in 2015 in which I said that I would stop blogging except for the occasional post. Have a look at the rate of increase of the two lines: the total number of posts rose much slower from then on, while the number of spreads rose appreciably faster. The rate of new spreads since then is about nine spreads a year, which is less than the 12 I hoped to be able to manage. But please remember that this is not a job and that each spread takes presumably 20-30 hours to produce. I you ever write a book, do just that: write it; don't paint it! Mind you, The Book does not consist of images only: there are over 32,000 words at present, which is the length of a novella.

I always aimed at something like 125 pages, simply because comparable works have such a number of pages. At present I think the number will be more like 130, but we'll see. The good news is that I expect that the number of spreads per year will increase, so producing the remaining 15 spreads shouldn't take very long. Mind you, 'not very long' should be considered from the perspective that such a project may take a few decades...              
    
Because this is the tenth year of blogging, I also aim to write a few extra posts this year. I think I will finally write the long-awaited post 'What are toes for?' There will also be posts on equations: the Drake equation, the Seager equation and possibly the Nastrazzurro equation...

4 comments:

L13B3 14641 said...

Oh gosh, I remember when a good number of those "top 10" posts were posted, and it's somewhat shocking to realise it's been over 5 years. Feels a bit weird.

Regardless, I'll eagerly await The Book for the remaining 2-3 years, or even longer, if it takes it.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY TENTH !!

-anthony

Anonymous said...

Bon anniversaire ! I can't wait for the post on toes!

Petr said...

Awesome news! Needless to say, this is my favourite blog by far and I'm happy you're still posting. I am really excited about your progress with THE BOOK as well. (But I should say first and foremost, because the little sneak peaks you have let us see so far are absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous artwork.)

The new blog posts you are planning make me really excited too. I really want to know what toes are for, and I've got to hand it to you, nothing could possibly top the Nastrauuurro equation. I wonder what it relates to and I'm really looking forward to reading all about it.

Kudos and all the best in the next 10 years! :)