In yesterday’s post about the last six years of stats on UMW Blogs, I suggested that, based on the aggregate number of users, sessions, and pageviews, UMW Domains has not cut significantly into the usage of UMW Blogs:
So, there goes the theory that UMW Domains would cut significantly into the usage of UMW Blogs. It may not have grown as much as it did from 2010-2013, but it has not declined significantly either. Interesting. One of the things it points to right away is that there seems to be more than enough demand for both. I have no idea what the future will bring to this system, and I am officially off the case.
But even after writing that something seemed wrong about it. There’s a finite number of faculty and students doing digital work at UMW, and the introduction of an entire web hosting platform would have to impact UMW Blogs usage on campus to some degree. So, while mulling over this inconsistency in my post I figured one way at this question might be to look at the number of people accessing UMW Blogs in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia over the last 6 years. That is data Google Analytics gives you, and they even let you import it neatly in Google Spreadsheets. So, I did. Below are six graphs ranking the top ten highest number of sessions from cities around the world by year.
In 2010 it’s fairly clear that Fredericksburg (as well as neighboring cities in the region like Stafford, Richmond, and D.C.) make up a vast majority of the site’s traffic. NYC and London have a decent showing, but it predominantly Mid-Atlantic.
In 2011 the traffic is even more centered around the Fredericksburg region than 2010, but traffic all around is growing, and we even see two new trends: our first non-english speaking city, Moscow, and the first appearance of “(not set)” in the top ten. Not set could refer to many things, one is there was no pageview associated with the hit. This might also suggest more folks are browsing more securely, which would be an interesting trend moving forward on UMW Blogs if that were the case.
In 2012 we see a slight decline in Fredericksburg sessions, with an uptick in NYC, London, and Manila. Notice how many more (not set) sessions there are.
2013, the year we officially introduce UMW Domains, we do see a fairly significant falloff in the Fredericksburg area. With international cities like Sydney, Manila, and Toronto burying regional cities like Stafford and Richmond that were more prevalent in prior years. Also, sessions from (not set) more than doubled from 2012, while NYC, London, Manila, Chicago, and LA increased sessions while Washington DC did not. We have the first Canadian city in the top-ten: Toronto. And, if these numbers say anything, it could be that increasingly UMW Blogs is garnering a far more global reach.
2014 marks a fairly dramatic loss of sessions from the Fredericksburg area. With less than 200,000 sessions, Fredericksburg now has fewer than half the peak number of 430,000 in 2011. Something that would be consistent with the growth of UMW Domains. Also, the (not set) entries are pretty significant now.
Last year we can see the continued fall off of Fredericksburg, and the climb of (not set). What we also see is a pretty wide array of large cities from around the world now. New Dehli, India and Zhengzhou, China represent two new cities in the top ten, and at a glance the decline in localized traffic has been offset by the increase in international traffic. In 2010, the Fredericksburg area accounted for almost 90% of the sessions from the top ten. In 2015, the Fredericksburg area accounted for only 50% of the sessions from the top ten. Whereas the overall number of sessions increased by 1.2 million between 2010 and 2015.
I think I could say something about the long tail of the internet and all that, but I’m not exactly sure what that means. But it is a bit clearer to me, however, that UMW Blogs is a resource that stretches far beyond Fredericksburg now. I think its evolution from predominantly local resource to having a far more global reach (at least according to number of sessions in regards to cities around the world) is really interesting. That said, it’s use at UMW does seem to be falling off, which raises an interesting question. Is a university like UMW in the business of providing a resource like UMW Blogs that might serve an audience beyond it’s immediate community? What’s more, what are universities broader commitment to some vision of sustaining and archiving a rich resource like this that might be time finite, something that has broader implications for the web.
On the other side of that equation, I’m also compelled by the idea of those cities and with just one session. There are more than a few of those. There’s some equally interesting data on the other end of the telescope, but more on that in my final post in this impromptu series. What I have enjoyed about this interlude into UMW Blogs stats is it has pushed me to think about what these numbers mean from a couple of vantage points. I am not all that compelled by big data in the end, but I am interested in working through how people use these numbers to make sweeping generalizations, and exploring the possibilities and limitations of that kind of storytelling.