3012: On DriverlessCrocodiles, Robert the Bruce and spiders

Celebration time: on 14th November DC hit 3,000 views.

It’s worth noting (as always) that in internet terms, this is the tiniest number. It’s also worth noting that it’s signficant to me, and I’m happy about it – and thank you for coming! I’ve written before about both how liberating is to know that almost no-one reads what I write, and how delightful I find it when someone finds a resource here and finds it helpful.

But here’s another note that may turn out to be interesting (if not very surprising). I posted every day for seven months before reaching 1,000 views, with an average of less than three views per day, plus a few big outliers (the best ever month for visits was October 2018).

For the next six months, (until DC reached 2,000 views on 1st August 2019), the average rose to about six views per day.

The next thousand views (to 3,000) came a little faster again: four-and-a-bit months at an average of a bit more than 8 views per day.

So what? Another network effect

Well, we’ll see if the numbers continue to grow or if they level off, but this accelleration is consistent with what we’d expect of a growing network of posts…

The internet is a network, and people in it travel between connected points looking for whatever it is they’re after. But certain places (search engines, Facebook, twitter) are the gateways where most people dive into the net – like a leap into a point or a jump through hyperspace to the planet of their choice.

Driverlesscroc (and all other websites) is like a little web (of internal and externally linked posts) within the wider web. The bigger that mini network grows, the more chances that it will have what someone’s looking for, and so the more likely they’ll jump to it. I prefer to think of this as building a trampoline or safety net rather than some kind of trap – I’m only out to “catch” people who are looking for what I’ve got to share.

Hypothesis

If this continues (no assumptions) and we continue to gain three additional visits per day every three months or so, then I’d expect to reach 4,000 views in about another three months – say, mid-February 2020.

If that continued, we might hit 5,000 views in a little over two months – say, by the end of April 2020.

There’s a question about what happens to traffic at that point – will growth slow down (because not that many people are interested, or because to catch double the traffic you need a net twice the size), or will there be a positive feedback loop (more traffic breeds better search results and more referrals, creating a better net)?

I have no idea, which is why I’m resisting the temptation to spend too long calculating when DC might hit 10,000 views (Christmas 2020?) – but I thought it might be interesting to record some projections to make explicit what might be happening, and see how well they hold up.

The patience of a spider

But all of this reminded me of Robert the Bruce and his spider:

According to a legend, at some point while he was on the run after the 1305 Battle of Methven, Bruce hid in a cave where he observed a spider spinning a web, trying to make a connection from one area of the cave’s roof to another. It tried and failed twice, but began again and succeeded on the third attempt. Inspired by this, Bruce returned to inflict a series of defeats on the English, thus winning him more supporters and eventual victory. The story serves to illustrate the maxim: “if at first you don’t succeed, try try try again.” Other versions have Bruce in a small house watching the spider try to make its connection between two roof beams.

Wikipedia

And so – with or without acceleration – we weave the web.

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