Chaitalanche

chaitalancheBecause Jonathan Chait tweeted out a link to my post on his complete insanity, we experienced a bit of a hiccup in these here parts on Thursday.

Normally this blog is easily a low enough traffic place not to require page caching (a process that enables a web server to feed visitors pre-fab versions of pages rather than have to churn out new ones on each new arrival), and I rather long ago stopped believing that this blog, or I, would ever prove fit enough for general human consumption for such measures, which entail minor inconveniences to the blogger, to be required. I had put Mr. Chait’s twitter handle on the end of my usual “new” tweet as much to keyword its content as to invite his personal attention – though, of course, one never knows, and, anyway, it seems the polite thing to do in such cases, since I also notified root_e, the other writer discussed at length. To my surprise, this time around the bigger fish re-tweeted my post-link with a plea for his readers to read it, and with a complimentary description.

The resultant eyeball acceleration, with the help of additional minor boosts from other re-tweeters, pushed us to the rough blog equivalent of Mach 1. In raw numbers, that meant 690 views on Thursday, tailing off to 139 on Friday, and a return to near normal very low levels by Saturday and today [actually today is turning into a very above average day, though I suspect a lasting uptick is unlikely]. The vast majority of the first day’s (D+0) visits were generated by the first of two tweeted links, the one that led to the initial site crash. Upon verifiying that the site really was visitable after I turned on caching, I sent out a second link addressed to known re-tweeters (including Chait), with the objective of letting those who got 500 errors the first time around know they would now get through. Chait was kind enough to re-alert his followership, as was at least one of the other re-tweeters, which multi-part process could I suppose be taken by some as a model for generating additional traffic off a single re-tweet, akin to booking a hot band in a small venue, creating the appearance of unmet demand, though, really, what difference does it make for a micro-blogger in the grand scheme of things?

2nd_chance_tweetAnyway, of “views” directly traceable to re-tweets of my original links, around half of them on D+1, +2, and +3 were traceable to the first re-tweet, the other half to the re-re-tweet.

In relation to the always-implicit goal of inspiring further conversation, out of the roughly 1,000 visits to the blog traceable directly to the ‘lanche, only a couple took advantage of social media links to pass the post on further, a paltry click rate in other words of ca. 0.1 to 0.2%. The only comments other than several on twitter were from our regular don miguel. root_e still has not responded. For all I know, he’s decided to drop the subject. I guess maybe we’ll see if he’s interested if I post a follow-up that I’ve been working on. It also is of course possible that days, weeks, months, or centuries from now someone will find something here useful enough to be re-considered. If so, and I’m still around, I hope they’ll let me know.

Otherwise, though I’m grateful either way for the attention and consideration from a respected political commentator, I’m also aware that Chait would, quite understandably, have had his own motivation for citing my post beyond whatever judgment of its intrinsic merit. He may lately have been feeling a bit head-and-shoulders-beaten-up by reactions from friends and usually allies both to the essay of his that I discussed, and possibly also to his recent debate with Ta-Nehisi Coates on overlapping subjects. (I had thought Chait the clear “winner” of that debate, but I recently ran into some conversation among Coates fans who clearly had the opposite impression.) I intend no criticism of him nor any hypocritical show of modesty when I note that he may have tweeted out my piece simply because, despite incidental criticisms, it amounted overall to a defense if not precisely of his position, then of its tenability.

As for follow-up, I do plan to pursue these thoughts and issues further, with my usual combined incompetence and anxiety in regard to self-promotion. I find repeated twitter links to one’s own posts and other “boosting” tactics pathetic and demeaning: If people want to read my writing, they should by now know where to find it. Anyone “enticed” to come by cannot be expected to deal well with what they find. Still, I confess that my first thoughts turned to monetization  – which should be taken as an indication of my, um, income uncertainties, not, I hope, of my greed: I moon wistfully at traffic to my contact page, visions of un-refusable offers dancing in my head, think about putting up donation links or discreet ads, or flat out trawling for new work, but I’m also reluctant to revive the sources of old and abiding frustrations.

At the risk of seeming to compound unseemly self-involvement further, I’ll add that, whatever my pessimisms, I am as desperately grateful for attention, especially with compliments, as the next writer, and am cognizant of the value, indeed of the potential real market value, of praise from the established put up in real honest-to-God pixels. I know the size of my pond well enough to have been thrilled by the unusual splash – and to experience concern that even this one day of nano-fame might twist me or my work into (even more) undesirable shapes. All the same, I took pleasure in the event, and decided to count it as a reward from on very high for a good deed, an honoring of my father, I was concurrently being compelled or commanded to perform.


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