Searching for Dave, or, one brick short


I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.

— Dorothy Parker

I had a phone conversation today with someone I’ve met only through blog posts and tweets.  That happens often enough that it’s not actually surprising, but it’s always a pleasure to add the immediacy of voice to the connection.

I mentioned during the conversation that this blog is mainly for me–hence the tagline “interests, ideas, notions, tangents.”  I do think that if you put things into a public forum, or at least one that’s publicly available, you’d like to have some interaction; I certainly do.  But ultimately for me, the noticing and thinking-through is what matters most.

If you don’t blog yourself, you may not think much about the administrative side of the blogs you read–what the machinery looks like to the blogger.  No reason you should.  But when I find myself getting impressed with myself, WordPress can help tone that down.

For example, WordPress tells you what search terms people have used to find your blog.  Here in ascending order are the top ten all-time search terms that led people to Dave’s Whiteboard:

10th place (with 79 hits): monopoly money

Well, that’s the random stuff you get in tenth place.

9th place (85 hits): how to keep your volkswagen alive

I’m guessing my blog is a disappointment to these searchers.  The link comes from my post about John Muir’s classic repair manual, an exemplary job aid.

8th place (92 hits): aplysia

You owe more to Aplysia californica and to Eric Kandel than you might have thought.

7th place (93 hits): (I’d rather not say)

No, that’s not what the 7th most used term is.  In reality, it’s a person’s name–but an annoying person whose name happened to appear in the “so to speak” quote here.  Seems to be a relentless self-promoter, so I removed the quote from my database.  The only one who gets to be relentless here is me.

6th place (95 hits): whiteboard

Imagine that.

5th place (154 hits): 10000 hours to become an expert

Dave’s Whiteboard shows up on the first page of results here thanks to my review of Daniel Levitin’s book, This is Your Brain on Music.

4th place (182 hits): miranda july

The mention of her was one of my side trips.

3rd place (194 hits): dave ferguson

How about that?

2nd place (204 hits): gideon v. wainwright

You wouldn’t think 372 U.S. 335 would bring that many people to the Whiteboard, would you?  The match comes from a “generic musing” post about case law.

And in 1st place (with 1,814 hits): lego people

I’d never figured this one out until today.  The phrase “lego people” does appear here, but at the end of a post, in a credit for the photographer whose image I used.  How the heck could that pull in nearly two thousand visitors?

Then, today, I searched Google:

I clicked the fourth image (the one on the right); it links to one of my posts about John Medina’s book Brain Rules.  I adapted this photo by Joe Shlabotnik (Peter Dutton), thanks to the CC license he released it with.

Anytime I start feeling smug about myself and what happens on my blog, I use stats like these as a reality check.  Sometimes it’s not about me; sometimes it’s all about the Legos.

4 thoughts on “Searching for Dave, or, one brick short

  1. Well, of course, after reading that I had to go pull up the search stats on my blog too.

    Apparently the search that leads people to my blog most often is “Why are people so dumb?”

    Nice, but not as cool as the lego people.

  2. Julie, I like that a lot.

    This was a slightly tongue-in-cheek post. The numbers and the search terms are absolutely true; I simply didn’t see the post as having much weight. It’s more, well, here’s something that was wandering around the cognitive stove but didn’t want to be on the back burner.

    More seriously, I think the longer someone writes publicly (as on a blog) and the more that person is given to odd comparisons ( “it’s like trying to teach Swedish to a rocking chair” ), the more random matches Google’s going to find.

    I find the original photo very appealing for some reason, and have used it in presentations.

  3. Blogs have not been a medium of communications that I have tried very much. It’s funny how that lego picture turned out to be your blog. Sometimes it amazes me how you indirectly and unconsciously build a network through a blog. With our technology building so fast, I feel like blogging could become just a fad. Soon enough we are going to have something to resemble voicethread ( This is where writing your thoughts will be a thing of the past, and it will now be voice blogging. Hopefully some time passes before this happens, so we can all catch up with the times.

  4. Cody,

    It’s certainly true that my own professional network grew to quite an extent through my blog–as it did through my Facebook page, and then through Twitter. I’ve adapted in an off-the-cuff way; I don’t interact much on Facebook, and when I do, it’s more on the personal side as opposed to the professional. This blog is somewhat less about interaction (though the light’s always on by the door) and somewhat more about my thinking about and writing about what’s caught my own attention.

    Yes, I do think voice is a likely future stage. I’ve used voice-recognition software for a few years when I’ve got a lot of note-transcribing to do. The software and the power of my computer are not yet where I’d like them to be so I could do that all the time. I imagine it’s coming.

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