Monday, October 15, 2007

Hello, Kazakhstan

I've got a wonderful new piece of software that tells me everything I could possibly want to know about you, the reader of this blog. It tells me where you are, when you call by, how you get here, how long you stay for, and what you look at while you're here.

It's fascinating stuff. It's also, if I'm honest, just slightly depressing. Because, as long as a writer doesn't know for sure how big his audience is, he can delude himself that there are thousands of readers out there, hanging on his every word. Whereas I now know for certain that the average number of visitors to this blog day each day is - well, I think I'll keep that to myself. But let's just say that you belong to a very exclusive group of highly discriminating individuals.

On the other hand, there is an upside to the knowledge I've acquired. I love knowing, for example, that I've had visitors here from Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, India and, yes, Borat's beloved homeland. (Even if, in many cases, it's perfectly possible - as my wife suggests - that they actually came here by mistake, having searched on my surname in pursuit of gay erotica.)

And here's the really interesting thing. Learning that I do have readers, however few, has increased my sense of obligation and made me try harder to be a better, more productive blogger. Because I hate the idea of you taking three minutes out of your busy day to come here and then being disappointed to find nothing new to amuse, stimulate or infuriate you.

The lesson? Whatever and whenever we write, we urgently need to make the effort to imagine real, flesh and blood individuals reading our words - and just a click or a turn of the page from something more engaging.

Anyway, I hope you'll come back soon. If you don't, I'll know.