Friday, December 30, 2011

The Engineer's Pulse 2011 Year in Review

As the year winds down, it is an appropriate time to reflect on it, and also to plan for 2012.  At this time last year, I set some goals for my blog in 2011, and although not all were reached, the most important one was: I wrote articles consistently throughout the entire year.

The lesson that I take from this is that an ambitious goal may be reached by setting many small achievable ones.  In 2011, I posted 61 articles.  While some might call these posts, my readers will defend me when I say that my written pieces are not typical "posts" just as this site is not a typical "blog".  My articles are usually about 1,000 words, but sometimes 2,000 words.  If the average post is 1,200 words, then I wrote over 73,000 words on various topics within the realm of science and engineering over the course of this year.

It would seem daunting to commit to the goal of writing 73,000 words in a year, particularly if it were done on the side, like a hobby, as is the case for me.  I mean, this many words could easily fill a full fledged book.  I instead committed myself to write about one article per week.  As each article represents a very reasonable task on its own, the final result, while it appears grandiose when surveyed as a whole, was arrived at without much stress or concern.

I am happy to report that the audience for my blog grew steadily throughout the year.  To be sure, my articles have not gone viral - I remain jealous of the viewership of YouTube videos of cats rolling around in vomit, which easily generate millions of hits just days upon their uploading.  I suppose my site is more like a slowly growing bacteria; I like to think that my blog is going bacterial.

During the month of January 2011, I had just over 400 hits.  Over the last three months of this year, the blog averaged 3,000 hits.  While these numbers are not huge by any measure, I am still excited that thousands of people around the world are taking the time to read my words, which include some fairly in-depth discussions of reasonably complex content.  There are no cute cats on my site, nor is there anything gross or shocking.  Visitors to my blog have a head on their shoulders, and in general, have an earnest desire to be informed about new technologies and scientific discoveries.  I would describe my current audience as small but mighty.

All this being said, never before 2011 could I state that thousands of people have taken the time to consume anything that I produced.  And, although the comments board is not as busy as I'd hoped it would be this year, there have been many interesting and thoughtful comments posted by many.  Thanks to all who have taken the time to continue the discussions that I try to stimulate within my articles.  The nice thing about receiving just a few comments every week is that I can easily keep up with them, and post responses.  Please, keep them coming.

This year, I posted about topics ranging from aerospace to quantum physics to God.  And, despite all of the deep, existential discussions, which seem to me to be the most intriguing, the most read article of mine this year, was "Why Don't Airplanes Flap Their Wings?" which was read by 860 people.  This tells me that people want to know how every day technologies work.  I will continue to discuss technologies that we take for granted in 2012, and if a few more people understand the basic principles behind the tools with which they interact through a quick read on my site, then I am happy for it.

In the month of March, I had Aerospace Month.  As this was a relative success, I plan on having one or more themed months in 2012 - I am leaning towards an "Energy Month".

One other important addition in 2011 was the "For Physics Students" page, which I have been building.  In truth, "The Engineer's Pulse" has become much more student-centered than I had originally planned for.  Many of my favourite articles to write are inspired from content that I teach, and writing the articles empowers me to give clearer and more compelling lectures.  The truth is that even if this blog never becomes very 'popular', it will not have been a wasted effort, as it has proven itself to be an extremely useful teaching tool for me.

That being said, please do not hesitate to pass my articles along via whatever means (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to anyone whom you know that may find them interesting.  Do you know any science-minded students or tech-savvy adults?  Send them my way.

I wish all of you a prosperous 2012.  Oh, and by the way, I have seen the future, and I am glad to report that the world does not end.  On the downside, Donald Trump gets elected as the President of the United States.  Hmm, maybe that is the end that the Mayans were referring to all along.


Anonymous said...

hey The Engineer I am stopping to leave a comment, and to say thanks for writing your articles.

My group of society misplaced their passion for science and physics principles. I had heard of terms like entropy, and also laws of thermodynamics from friends or people I would chat with, but never had as solid an understanding for them that I could Share the knowledge with others. I never received a firm enough foundation for physics in K - 12 school, and unfortunately I didn't figure out how to stop falling asleep in math class until well after that.

Your Article postings are of great help to persons like myself who want to learn more, but don't have lots of time to learn it at MIT's online program, and to get digestible dosages of science as well as aesthetic but real analogies (i.e. the one about water and electricity mixing is a true winner, as I recall from memory!). I believe in your bacterial comment (vs. the viral kitty video stuff), because of Vincent Van Gogh's saying, and I believe you are certainly bringing them (and readers such as I) together.

Thanks be to educators that push to measure and to live in the inches before cutting everything and everyone else out. I'm not sure what I will learn, but I know I have visited your page for about three (3) years now. I've considered writing a page myself, but I still see more sharpening I must do prior to that.

Thanks again for sharing this certainly useful insight, and let it flow.

Anonymous reader

The Engineer said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your kind words, and for taking the time to read mine. My blog is 15 months old, so you haven't been visiting for three years...But, maybe the past year felt like three (if you are an American who follows politics, then that would explain it).

If you do decide to start your own blog, be sure to write about something you are passionate about.

Stephen Cohen

Jeremy Dinovo said...

I mean to say that since I found out about the Space Elevator blog I have been following that, and then discovered your blog through the Space Elevator Blog's page. I agree with you about the perception of time issue though, when people are faced with additional adversity, as this does happen often with those whom are dependent on losing their purchase receipts dealing with a warranty return (many similarities between that and politics, for certain!). Though I can say that if a person really likes your stuff he or she will tell you about it just as if they had read it the day before.

You are welcome for my time, as I think common values should always get the right funding (time and when possible, more tools). I appreciate your response and that it was prompt too. Society needs more of that really. Yes, I used to be more passive and less active in keeping up to speed with our elected or self-appointed leaders and all of the banter and jargon that is space-junked into existence, but then when I wanted to get serious about my art and my passion, I found out that it was harder to compete (and to considerately and effectively advertise) than the film industry lead me to believe. But as in the space elevator project and other engineering feats, there are a great number of people who have (or know a friend who has) a key component to starting a business or community: a garage or a back yard, and of course, the force times the distance.

My name is Jeremy Dinovo a documentary film maker. I helped my friend Kane Wilke in 2008 to produce the 1-hour documentary The Mighty Tether, which I believe is the first feature-length documentary film about the space elevator project.

I will keep reading and will keep the rust switch in the off position as much as possible, so I can, as they say during a good workout, 'Feel the burn'.

Jeremy M. Dinovo

Jeremy M. Dinovo said...

Hi Stephen Cohen,

I finally got back to responding to this page (I have not forgotten). This is Jeremy Dinovo, responding to your message about American who follows politics, and you know that web site I was mentioning earlier? I finally got this up and running with plenty of traffic. I would be glad to share my link here if, in this case of discretion it could be allowed, or I could send this privately, if you prefer that. Thanks to you Mr. Stephen Cohen for your response; if not for action and response, would there even be art or even science?

Jeremy M. Dinovo

The Engineer said...

Jeremy, feel free to post your link here. Congratulations on your newest endeavour.

Jeremy M. Dinovo said...

Thanks Stephen! Yeah, the funny things you learn about when designing web sites, such as discovering News Feeds what they are, why they benefit people, and how to use them... all so you can get other people to read your site faster. To think I was saving URL's to stay on top of stuff all along.

I think my format and mission goals are very relevant and attention-getting.

Main site with About info

Blog where streaming MP3's are
(with category + vulgarity filters)

P.S. Thank you again for your prompt reply! Also if you know anyone who would like to be a guest (if by over the phone recording session) I will welcome requests and make consideration for sharing this content on my page.

If I may make suggest a page with streaming mp3, my friend Michael Remington talks with me and my audience about pulsars

Enjoy! to some degree!