The Invisibility Experiment

Toil and troubleA couple weeks ago, someone made the observation that I could reduce my output to one post per week, and that would be enough. I disagreed, based on the idea that this would only contribute to its rapid disappearance from the blogospheric radar. But after thinking about it a bit, I decided to test the hypothesis. After all, how do you really know what's going to happen until you actually conduct the experiment?

So last week turned into a small hiatus from the computer, which was something I really needed anyway. Well, not entirely a hiatus, considering the software upgrades and subsequent malfunctions resulting from those upgrades. But that comes with the territory, as I've come to understand during some 25 years of propping up the infernal software that enables these infernal machines.

Anyway, the experiment produced results that weren't entirely what I had expected. Not that I was expecting the Omegaword blip to utterly vanish from the tracking screens, but I figured a sharp reduction in blog posts would result in a proportional reduction in output from the search entities that consider freshness a virtue. Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be a difference between four or five monologues per week, and no monologues at all. At least not yet.

It's possible, of course, that a week simply isn't adequate for this experiment. It's possible I'd have to maintain Web silence for two weeks, or three, or perhaps even a fortnight before meaningful results can be obtained. Another possibility is that momentum isn't necessarily defined by duration alone; a blog that's been in existence for only nine months may seem—to some search algorithms at least—weightier by virtue of sheer volume. Assuming equal content, a nine-month-old blog with 100,000 words may have more inertia than its two-year-old, 50,000 word counterpart. There may be other reasons, too, like serendipity.

In any case, I'm not sure I want to find out what would happen, were I to abandon the blog for two weeks, or a month. Maybe nothing would. Maybe it would begin to write itself, with a little help from the cyber intelligence that—some say—has already flickered to life among the sticky strands of the Worldwide Web. But that's an experiment for another day.



  1. I wondered where you'd gone, but I hadn't realized it had been 10 days since you last posted. In retrospect, as I checked in last week, I recall thinking, "Jeff must be taking a day off." But I never thought to add up any numbers. I'd say that visitors would drop off after a long period of silence, but there's a blog I like that went silent (with no explanation) from June 27, 2006 through January 26, 2007, and I never did give up on it. (Obviously, because if I'd deleted the bookmark and stopped checking then I wouldn't know the blog has resurrected.) Again, I haven't done the math, but that's a rather long silence, especially with no promise of a return. Perhaps the bigger mystery is why I kept checking in on a seemingly dead blog. It seems to me, Jeff, that you're ultimately considering matters of inertia -- whether it's fine to coast along without impetus (the momentum of the moment).

  2. Now that we're actually into the new week, I can see by the statistics that readership did, in fact, drop off a bit. I contemplated putting up a "gone fishing" sign, but not until after I was already in the boat. This would have buggered the experiment, so I decided not to. But I will next time, if there is a next time.

    I may have to reconsider the inertia issue. I'm not sure how significant it really is in the grand scheme of things, especially when I think about quality vs. quantity, and how the former seems to suffer when the latter becomes the primary focus.

    (My handy calculator informs me that the gap you mention amounts to 213 days, a rather long silence indeed.)