Thursday, November 6, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different...

No, you haven’t fallen into a script for Monty Python, the British comedy show that obsessed my darling husband years ago and which still takes up valuable synapses of his brain. No Dead Parrot Sketch today, gentle readers, but we are going to talk about something completely different: metablogging.

Ooooh, what a hook! Metablogging. Makes you want to keep reading, doesn’t it?

If you’re scratching your head wondering what the heck metablogging is, I’m not surprised because I first came across this term in the secure and very strange corners of my own brain. It popped magically into my head Monday after I woke at 5:00 a.m. unable to fall back asleep. Here’s your chance to see the random and bizarre turns my brain takes that lull me away from sleep so frequently. Aren’t you lucky?

Upon waking, it dawned on me that I didn’t have a completed essay for this week, though several are started and will wait patiently for me to get back to them when I feel like it. So I contemplated what I’m doing in my life now that might interest my forty or so regular readers plus the poor innocents who accidentally click on my blog.

Hmm. I’ve been reading several books about brain development and something called “the reading brain.” (Yes, I’m a geek, in case you had forgotten.) These books have me thinking a lot about how we think, otherwise known as metacognition, a term I dredged up from somewhere deep in my brain in synapses formed in college. I think.

Anyway, if metacognition is thinking about thinking, then of course blogging about blogging would be metablogging. Right?

Sadly, I discovered in a quick Google search that I did not coin this clever new term. As usual, I’m entering into a trend late, which is par for the course of my life, actually. Metablogging, it turns out, is something of a hot topic among bloggers. I make no claim that thinking up words like “metablogging” is normal, but at least my brain is not alone in the way it thinks, which is some comfort to me. Oddity loves company every bit as much as misery.

Anyway, the idea of blogging about blogging intrigues me so I thought I'd show you a glimpse behind the scenes.

You, dear reader, fascinate me. You take valuable time out of your life to read my random blatherings, which I try to keep to sub-five-minute bursts. You have no idea how hard this is for me and how many brilliant sentences and paragraphs I delete in the interests of not trying your patience. Having spent years editing other people’s writing does not make editing my own any easier. Because I know how valuable your time is, I really do try to give you my best—and briefest—no matter how painful it is to me.

When I started this blog almost five months ago, I thought only my mother and sister would keep reading past the first essay. They are obligated by the closest bonds of blood, and it would hurt my feelings if they didn’t read it every week. All I expected from the rest of my friends and family (who received pesky emails that first month) was that they check it out. Beyond that, I figured a random handful might stick with it but most would probably roll their eyes and say to themselves, “Susan has waaayyy too much free time on her hands.”

Happily, I was totally wrong and more than a handful of friends and family have offered amazing encouragement and support, which drove me to submit my first-ever article for publication. No word yet from the magazine, but thank you from the bottom of my heart for getting me over my fear and acting on that life goal.

What totally floors me, though, is the number of complete and total strangers who have signed on. That strangers would click on my blog did occur to me; but that those strangers would stay, read, and even sometimes subscribe to Questioning boggles my mind and fills my heart with profound gratitude.

What do I know about you, my kind readers? If you are one of the ten or so who read this blog through various feed services like Windows RSS and Google Reader, you’re just a number on my subscriber count—except for Joan B, who introduced me to Google Reader. She reads and comments, so I suspect she’s one of the Google Reader subscribers. Please check out her
blog. Even if you’re not a stamper, you’ll enjoy Joan’s rollicking sense of humor and wonderful artwork.

Thirty of you subscribe to my blog via FeedBurner, which supplies me with your email addresses. I personally know 21 of these subscribers. One of you (whom I don’t know in real life) has an email address based in Brazil. How cool is that? Hello, Brazil!

If one of you unsubscribes, I get an email notifying me of your rejection. I tell you this so you will feel horribly guilty if you quit me, but I promise not to flood your inbox with pathetic emails begging you to take me back. I’ll just eat chocolate until I get over it. It’ll take a lot of chocolate, though, and if I cease fitting into my skinny jeans, it’ll be all your fault.

Depending on how blog-savvy you are, you may or may not know that bloggers can monitor direct hits to their blogs. I use SiteMeter for this. For many hits, I can see the IP address or server, what country the click came from, what internet page referred the reader to my page, and how long the reader stayed. If you check it out (see the sidebar for a link), you’ll notice an alarming number of people whose stay is 0 seconds. I try not to take this personally.

In addition to my delighted astonishment at the number of hits I get, I never expected the SiteMeter information would be so, well, informative. For example, people from Singapore, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Finland, England, France, Germany, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and even China have clicked in. To celebrate this world-wide readership I tried to find an audio clip of “It’s a Small World, After All” but only came across a creepy video clip of the Disney ride on YouTube, which I will spare you the torture of experiencing. Instead, please chime in with a chorus of “It’s a Small World” yourself—come on, you know that you know the words. Lovely.

Now that song is in your head instead of mine. Thank you.

I also know what Google searches lead people here. The most interesting search hits land on my
Bike Porn essay and show the sad limitations of Google technology. Consider the person who lives in Alkmaar, Netherlands, who searched “juicy backside porn hub” and ended up on my blog. Somehow, I don’t think this person got what he/she expected. There were similar search hits from people in Egypt; Kiskunlachaza, Hungary; Billancourt, France; and Pompano Beach, Florida.

Don’t you feel sorry for these poor souls whom Google let down so badly? When I wrote that essay, I never expected to stand between perverts and their porn, but so far, I have disappointed people on three continents. Why does this make me want to giggle?

Blogging has proven very educational for me. You have no idea how excited I was when I successfully installed the SiteMeter and FeedBurner code. It made me feel very internet savvy when, in fact, I am not. For all I know, the internet is run by squirrels and pulleys. I’m no Al Gore. But blogging has taught me a few interesting skills, like how to name a hyperlink (that’s what the little icon of earth with a chain does—who knew?) and how to follow directions for cutting and pasting code that really just looks like gibberish to me. I’ve also learned to edit html code to make words italic or bold. If you know the code for strike-through, please share. I think I could have fun with that.

Hopefully, reading my blog is educational for you, too. I’ll bet most of you have never heard of
Kiskunlachaza, Hungary, but now you know it exists and at least one pervert lives there. I’ll also bet it was news to you that there is a sub-genre of pornography—not the metaphorical porn I blogged about—that involves bikes. Sometimes in the process of questioning my intelligence, I learn things we’d all rather not know. Instead of dwelling on perversion, why not distract yourself by trying out that little earth-and-chain icon in your next email. It’s, like, totally cool!

And speaking of hyperlinks, let’s end our exploration of metablogging with something completely different…
The Dead Parrot Sketch.



  1. I love this. Thanks for the shoutout!

  2. I am just a random person that clicked on your blog and visits weekly. I love reading your essays! Thanks fir sharing your insights.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!