Monthly Archives: January 2013

Scam Attempt Warning for SF/F Writers

Short version: If you’re a science fiction/fantasy writer who got an invitation to speak from Bexley College in the UK, someone’s trying to scam you.

Longer version:

Here’s an e-mail in my box today:

Greetings John Scalzi,

I am Prof. Arthur Peterson from Bexley College (Holly Hill Campus) here in London UK. We are officially writing to invite you and confirm your booking as our guest Speaker at this Year Bexley college Seminar which will take place here at the campus ground.

Bexley College (Holly Hill Campus).

The Venue as follows:
VENUE: Upper Holly Hill Road Belvedere, Kent
London, United Kingdom
POST CODE: DA17 6HF
Expected audience: 450 people(mainly students & invited guest). Duration of speech per speaker: 1 Hour
Name of Organization: Bexley College Campus.
Topic: ”Mystery of Life and Death”
Date: 18th February 2013

We reached your profile at http:// www.aboutsf.com// and we say it’s up to standard. The College will be so glad to have such an outstanding personality as you in our midst for these overwhelming gathering. Arrangements to welcome you here will be discussed as soon as you honor our invitation. If you have any more publicity material you wish to share with us, please do not hesitate to contact me.

An Official Formal Letter of invitation and Contract agreement would be sent to you from the College as soon as you honor our Invitation. The College have also promised to be taking care of all your travel and Hotel Accommodation expenses including your Speaking Fee.
If you are  available for this date, include your speaking fees in your reply for it to be included in the DOCUMENTATIONS.

Stay Blessed
Prof. Arthur Peterson
Bexley College (Holly Hill Campus).

Tel: + 44 702 xxx xxx

The reason I know this is a scam:

1. The grammar and composition of this letter OH DEAR LORD.

2. Bexley College is a general further education college (i.e., a vocational school), not a university, and while a school that teaches people to be hair dressers and to work in construction probably might want the occasional speaker, those speakers are not likely to be science fiction authors from the United States, speaking on the subject of the mysteries of life and death.

3. The e-mail came from a GMail account, not an e-mail account using the school’s address (I’ve already reported it to Google as a phishing attempt).

4. The phone number attached to the letter not only does not match the numbers for Bexley College on the Web site, but I learn that UK numbers that start with “+44 70″ are very often used for scam attempts (scroll down a bit for the info).

5. “Prof. Arthur Peterson” doesn’t exist, at least not in the context of Bexley College.

And so on.

Clearly the plan is to get me to call the phone number or to respond to the e-mail, grab some pertinent information about me from my own excitable self, and then go from there. Nice try, but no.

The fact the letter mentions my speaker listing at AboutSF suggests that whoever is doing it has copied out that site’s speaker list contact information and is probably contacting other folks listed there. So this is to raise a general alarm. Note that I suspect most science fiction/fantasy writers are smart enough to recognize a scam with they see one, but on the other hand better safe than sorry.

Bear in mind this particular letter uses Bexley College but it’s entirely possible the scammers will change it up and use other educational institutions. They’re crafty, these scammers.

So: Science fiction and fantasy writers: Beware.

Winner From Yesterday’s Redshirts Contest

I had the missus, pictured here with Redshirts, pick a number between four and twelve; she picked eleven. Then I had her pick a number between zero and five; she picked two. Then I asked for a final number between zero and nine; she picked eight. Thus was 11:28pm picked as the winning time for the contest. Then I looked to see who had popped in at 11:28pm.

No one had. Fine, I thought, then I’ll just pick whoever popped in closest to that time. That person is:

Oldcoloradonews, who popped in at 11:26pm, two minutes out.

So congratulations sir or madam, you are the winner! Now all you have to do is send me a note from the same e-mail address you used to leave the message, with your physical address and actual name, the latter for signing purposes, the former to give USPS something to do with its time. Send you note to “john@scalzi.com,” if you please.

Thanks to everyone for playing. I may give out a couple more trade paperbacks of Redshirts between now and the 15th, so keep on your toes and check back frequently to artificially inflate my visitor stats for your next chance to win!

Hey, Look! The Trade Paperback Edition of Redshirts! Want One?

Just arrived at the Scalzi Compound. It looks lovely. You all will get to get yours in 11 days (that’s January 15th)…

Except for the one of you I randomly select to get a copy from this comment thread! For you, I’ll mail one out tomorrow (or, like, Monday. Probably Monday). I’ll even sign it.

So let me know in the comment thread if you want it! This is open until 11:59:59pm tonight, Eastern. I’ll devise some way to randomly select a winner and let you know who it is tomorrow. One comment entry per person only, please.

Go!

Update: Yes, anyone anywhere ON THE PLANET may enter. If you’re on the ISS, piss off.

(Just kidding, you astronauts can enter too)

SF/F Authors/Editors/Artists/Fans 2013 Award Awareness Post

For the last couple of years, after noting my own award-eligible works, I posted another thread for other folks in the science fiction and fantasy field to make potential award nominators aware of their works and/or personal award eligibility. It turned out to be pretty useful, so I’m doing it again this year. Right now! In this comment thread, even.

So if you’re a science fiction and fantasy author, editor, or artist: Tell us what works of yours (or if you in yourself) are eligible for award consideration this year. The site gets up to 50,000 visitors a day, many of whom nominate for Hugos/Nebulas/Other genre awards, so it’s a decent way to get the word out.

And now: Rules (posted word for word from last year)!

1. This thread is only for authors/artists/editors to promote their own works (or in the case of editors, the works they have edited). If you’re not an author/artist/editor promoting your own work, don’t post on the thread. I’ll be doing a general recommendation thread later on. Any comment not by an author/artist/editor promoting his/her own work will get snipped out. This is to keep the thread useful both to creators and to folks thinking about nominations.

2. Also, to be clear, this thread is for works of or relating to science fiction and fantasy. This includes Young Adult works and SF/F fandom-related works. If you’re not sure your particular work is eligible for awards this year, please check. A general rule of thumb is that works published in the 2012 calendar year are eligible for consideration for this year’s awards nominations.

3. Authors/Artists/Editors: Feel free to either list your eligible works in the comments and/or link to a blog post outlining your eligible works, if you’ve already done the latter.

4. If you list your work, please also mention the category you expect it will be eligible in, to help folks with their nomination choices. My assumption is that generally speaking you’ll use the Hugo and Nebula categories, but if another award has a category outside those, feel free to list it too (for example, anthologies). Note to short fiction writers: This will be especially important for you to do this because people may not know whether to file your work into the short story, novelette or novella categories.

5. If you want to include links to your works, please feel free, but be aware that posts with many links may be initially punted into the moderation queue. Don’t panic when that happens, I’ll be going through regularly to free them. HOWEVER, please make sure that before you post, you check all your links and formatting.

6. One post per creator/editor, please.

So: Authors! Artists! Editors! What do you want people to keep in mind for this awards nomination season?

Killing My Voice Mail

Well, I finally did what I should have done about four years ago, which is to change my cell phone voice mail message to this:

Hi, this is John Scalzi. I will never ever ever ever listen to the voice mail you’re about to leave, because voice mail is a pain in the ass. So if you actually want to reach me, you can either send me a text at this number, or send me e-mail at “john@scalzi.com.” Feel free to leave a voice message if you want, but remember, I will never ever listen to it. Have a nice day!

Why? Because fuck me, voice mail is annoying. Especially on cell phones, on which it seems designed by the furies to punish everyone, not just the people who mock the gods. And you know what? Life is too short to deal with a horrible user interface, especially when everyone under the age of 103 knows how to send a goddamned text. So that’s it, I’m done with voice mail, that hateful contrivance. And I feel good.

Andrew Sullivan Goes Indie (Again)

There’s some excitement and/or consternation on the Internets in the last day or so regarding writer and blogger Andrew Sullivan’s decision to go indie with his blog, taking it from the confines of The Daily Beast, where it had resided for the last couple of years (with The Atlantic’s site being its home prior to that, and — memory starts getting hazy here — Time’s site its home before that) and testing the waters of a $19.95 subscription fee. As I understand it, everyone will be able to view the site’s front page, but if the post continues past the front page, you’ll need a subscription after the first few hits.

As an example of how everything old is new again, in December 2002 I wrote this about Andrew Sullivan doing a fund drive on his site and asking readers to support him to the tune of — you guessed it — $20:

Sullivan held a pledge week for his blog last week, saying in essence that if a certain small percentage (1% or so) of his readership didn’t kick in $20 a year, he’d roll up his blog and go back to writing articles for people who actually paid him money. Apparently the threat worked, since Sullivan is going to announce later this week that he’s cleared enough in contributions to keep his blog going.

A number of anti-Sullivan types have gotten themselves into a tizzy about this, but I’m really hard-pressed to see why. Like Sullivan, I’m a professional writer; I get paid to write. Therefore I can’t see what possible reason one should have against a writer getting paid. Sullivan’s had the benefit of seeing how other various revenue models have worked online, and he’s trying one that allows maximum choice for the readers and doesn’t require every single reader to consider paying.

So if people want to voluntarily pay Sullivan money, why should anyone else care? His not-so-subtle threat that he’d pull the plug might have seemed unseemly to some, but if the man doesn’t get paid for his writing, he doesn’t eat. If he can get some portion his audience to support the blog he enjoys writing and they enjoy reading, more power to him.

Having said that, I don’t think the average Joe Blogger should start thinking that Andrew Sullivan’s success extracting cash from readers is going to translate to a blogoverse-wide rain of money. Very few bloggers have Sullivan’s audience, and even he is smart enough to realize that he’s lucky if he gets 1% of his audience to chip in. 1% of most bloggers’ audience comes to a few dozen people, and most people aren’t going to be able to suggest a recommended contribution of $20 like Sullivan has. There’s also the matter of content — i.e., whether people have content that’s worth supporting with cash. No offense, but most don’t.

Pretty much everything I said then still applies now. Sullivan’s been canny in watching how others have leveraged online success into revenue; he’s not shy about the fact this is his living; I suspect he’s going to be at least initially successful in his quest to pay for the site through subscriptions; the number of blog sites which could follow his example is very low indeed. What has changed in the decade since I wrote that piece is mostly the dynamic of Sullivan’s notoriety — these days he is in fact primarily known for The Daily Dish whereas a decade ago he was still best known for books and magazine articles — and the size of his audience.

There may also be a deeper understanding by the sort of people who follow Sullivan’s site (and sites like it, such as Talking Points Memo, which also recently opened itself up for subscriptions) that money does in fact have to come from somewhere in order to make these sites work. The Daily Dish has seven employees as I understand it, so it’s not just Sullivan who needs to eat here; it’s everyone else too. Sullivan pulls in a fair number of reasonably well-off people, relatively speaking; what he’s asking for is below an important psychological barrier for pricing (many of his readers pay $20 a day on coffee and lunch; it’s not a lot); and the fact that he’s spent years establishing a community and keeping his core group small I suspect will probably work to his advantage. He’s the online equivalent of the mom & pop store, if your mom & pop store dispensed punditry instead of baked goods. Or perhaps the better metaphor would be that he’s an artisanal pundit, and thus able to command a higher price for his handcrafted opinions from his select clientele.

As noted, I expect him to be reasonably successful at least in the short term — the real question will be whether the subscription base grows in the second and subsequent years. If it doesn’t, I don’t expect Sullivan to be terribly romantic about it; he’s got to eat, remember. Be that as it may, I hope he’s successful, because I enjoy his writing. And yes, I ponied up the $19.95 (plus a smidgen extra) for the next year.

To anticipate the question of whether I would/should/could do something like this, my short answer is that even if I could — a proposition I consider questionable for a number of reasons — I would prefer not to. Among other things it requires keeping track of subscriptions and handling customer service issues and doing all sorts of other stuff that I already know I would rather drag my tongue across a razor than to do. If I were hard up for cash I would probably put advertising up on the site before I did a subscription scheme. But I would be far more likely just to write something and put it up for sale; that seems to me to be the easier and more effective route for me.

Basically, if I were you I wouldn’t be waiting up nights for me to announce Whatever as a subscription site. I don’t imagine any of you will actually be disappointed by this.

Update, 2:33pm: Sullivan reports raising $300k+ in 24 hours with 12k subscribers so far. Details here.

SF Trends for 2013

In the Guardian today, Damien Walter makes predictions for what he sees are big trends in science fiction for 2013, including the mainstreaming of SF, a new interest in space, and the emergence of serialization, of which The Human Division is held up as the prime example. Well, I’m not going to complain about that.

One minor caveat to the piece: THD is not exclusive to Kindle; it’s being served to as many e-retailers as we can get it to. Otherwise, it’s all good, and an interesting read.

The 2013 Award Consideration Post

January 1st was the start of Hugo Award nominations, and for members of SFWA, the Nebula Award nominations are already underway. So for those of you nominating or thinking about nominating for these or other science fiction/fantasy-related awards, here are the works I have for you to consider for the 2013 nomination season:

Best Novel:

Redshirts, Tor Books, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, editor, June 2012 (Prologue and first four chapters available on Tor.com)

Best Short Story:

Dave and Liz and Chicago Save the World,” Chicon 7, May 2012 (subsequently published on Whatever, September 2012)

“Muse of Fire,” from the audio anthology Rip-Off!, edited by Gardner Dozois, Audible.com, December 2012

Best Related Work:

24 Frames into the Future: Scalzi on Science Fiction Films, Peter B. Olsen, editor, NESFA Press, February 2012 (Columns included in the book are available for viewing here)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form:

Mark Reads Shadow War of the Night Dragons,” uploaded to YouTube, written by John Scalzi and Mark Oshiro, performed by Mark Oshiro, June 2012

Best Fancast:

Journey to Planet Joco,” John Scalzi and Jonathan Coulton

I think that’s it.

Notes on the above:

* Redshirts, the book, is actually comprised of a novel (Redshirts), a novelette (“Coda One”) and two short stories (“Coda Two” and “Coda Three”), which is the cause of the book’s subtitle “A novel with three codas.” However, I think the entire thing works better considered as a slightly oddly-formatted whole. So while technically the Codas could be nominated in the short work categories, if one were inclined to do so, I think it’s best to consider Redshirts, the book, as an entire work in the novel category. I bring this up because I have already had people ask me what I thought about them nominating the codas in the short form categories; this is what I think.

* “Dave and Liz” was written specifically for Chicon 7, last year’s World Science Fiction Convention, of which I was toastmaster. The idea behind it was to give folks who were coming into town a slightly-skewed travelogue of the city, and I think it did that well enough. There would be some irony in a story written specifically for one Worldcon being nominated for a Hugo at another; that would amuse me quite a bit.

* Regarding 24 Frames Into the Future, I am indebted to the folks at NESFA for making a book out of my movie columns for AMC/FilmCritic.com, since shortly after the book came out the AMC folks called me up to tell me they were revamping their Web presence and killing off all the columns, including mine (in other words, it wasn’t personal, which is actually nice to know). It’s nice to have a permanent record of the work I did over four years, and so handsomely put together as well (the book is silver! Seriously!). So thank you, NESFA, and particularly Peter Olsen, who edited the work. You all rock.

* I am dead serious that you should consider “Mark Reads Shadow War of the Night Dragons”  for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Mark Oshiro’s reactions to the piece — which he was reading cold, with no idea who I was or what the context was for the story — are so funny I almost peed myself watching him be literally agog at some of the passages. It really is the definitive reading of that particular text, I have to say. So, come on, give it some consideration for your vote this year. Doctor Who doesn’t need another three slots on the ballot, people. It’ll do just fine with two.

* I checked to see if “Journey to Planet JoCo” was eligible for the Fancast category, and my reading for the requirements of the category (“any non-professional audio- or video-casting with at least four (4) episodes that had at least one (1) episode released in the previous calendar year”) says it is. It’s non-professional (neither Jonathan or I made any money from it, and it was recorded by me off my computer, not in a studio), there are thirteen episodes, each of which aired daily, and all of them were in 2012. And I am certainly a fan of Coulton’s (and he of me, or so he says, although he might just be trying to make me feel better about myself). So there you have it. Check it out if you have not already.

Not a bad year of stuff.

Note to other award-eligible authors/creators/editors: For the last couple of years I’ve opened up a thread here to let you suggest your own eligible works, and I’ll be doing that this year as well. Look for it to go up tomorrow morning.

My New Computer’s Neat Trick

Here’s me doing something that I forgot I could do with the new computer. The screen tilts back about sixty degrees and because it has a touchscreen it also has an onscreen keyboard that you can call up. So right now I’m standing at my desk with the screen tilted, typing on the screen. The onscreen keyboard is not an optimal typing experience by any means, but it’s doable for short bursts. Inasmuch as I am constantly being told that sitting at my desk hastens my inevitable death, this might be a way to get some occasional standing time. If nothing else, it reminds me that my new computer is kind of cool, and that I live in the future.

Morning Star Interview With Me on 148Apps

In which the author of the piece comes away impressed with my being “a master of saying things without actually saying them,” i.e., talking about Morning Star without giving away details of plot, gameplay and the like. Yes, indeed — I work with them there word thingies all the time! In any event, still an interesting interview for those of you curious about our work to date. Also, I’m amused at how that particular picture seems to be becoming my default bio picture. Here’s the link to the story.

Oh Look, the First Political Post of 2013

I have been asked in e-mail whether I have any thoughts on the “fiscal cliff” deal, and the answer is: Meh. I don’t find the substance of the deal particularly impressive. I think it has two primary functions. One, it gives Obama a victory over the GOP, regardless of whether that victory has any genuine value outside of the fact of the victory; Two, it means that a non-trivial number of Republicans, in both the House and Senate, have voted to increase taxes.

Of the two, the latter function is rather more important to me. I certainly don’t expect the GOP to break down and go on a taxation frenzy anytime soon, but any crack in the delusion that higher taxes are never useful or needed and/or the separate but equal delusion that the best policy for anything is to cut taxes, is a laudable event. I want to believe this is a first sign of the GOP beginning a long, hard trek back to being a genuinely fiscally responsible party and indeed to sanity in general. We’ll see if it happens.

Otherwise, again, meh. If someone wants to tell me why I should feel otherwise about this deal than I do, either positively or negatively (and can do so in a polite, non-foamy fashion), please let me know in the comments.

 

The (Not Really) Resolutions for 2013

Like many people who have a hopefully realistic sense of self, I don’t use the new year to crack off a list of resolutions, the word being used in the modern sense of “things I have no intent of doing more than once, and then half-heartedly.” The new year does frequently come with a few days freed up from the usual work week constraints, however, plus there’s the fact that arbitrarily or not we really do reset lots of things with the new year, which allows one time to reflect on things one would like to do in the future. For me, here are some of those things.

1. Continue to get better with my time management, so I have more time to do the things I want to do, including stuff not related to writing.

2. Likewise do better with organization, which covers everything from keeping my office from collapsing into chaos to, you know, mailing shit when I’m supposed to.

3. Do a little better in staying in touch with friends, and not just through here, Twitter and Facebook.

4. Write some different things, for fun and to learn how to do them.

5. Continue to practice my guitar/ukulele, because it’s fun.

6. Read more, because I’m behind.

7. Get my weight back down to the 160 – 165 range (about 10lbs to go there), and maybe tone up a bit, because being a flabby middle-aged dude kind of sucks.

And that’s pretty much it. The nice thing is I think most of these are achievable; they just require me to get out of my own head a little more. We’ll see how it goes through the rest of the year.

What I Am Doing With My Life in 2013

For those of you who crave such information, a rough idea of the next twelve months in John Scalzi.

BOOKS, ETC

Here’s what you may expect from me, output-wise, in 2013:

The Human Division: The latest Old Man’s War novel starts its eBook episodic run January 15 with “The B-Team,” with a new episode each week for three months (all details and schedule here). The hardcover edition, which collects all the episodes, will be out May 14 (a collected eBook edition will appear at that time as well).

Redshirts: The trade paperback edition of my current novel Redshirts will drop into stores on January 15. Yes, the same day as the episodic debut of The Human Division. January 15 is clearly a big day for me this year.

The Mallet of Loving Correction: Selected Writings From Whatever, 2008 -2012: The hardcover collection of some of the best recent entries from this very blog will become available September 13, which is, not at all coincidentally, the 15th anniversary of Whatever.

Morning Star: The video game I am working on with game maker Industrial Toys is currently slated to appear this year. More details on the release date as we go along. You can’t rush this stuff, folks.

Secret Project None of You Even Knew Existed Until This Very Second, More Details of Which I Cannot Yet Reveal, Deal With It: Also will be out this year, by which you may infer that much of the work on it is already completed. You’re gonna think it’s pretty damn cool.

PUBLIC APPEARANCES

As noted previously, my plan this year is to scale back my public travel schedule pretty significantly. That said, I will be at the following:

Immortal Confusion: I’m primarily going to be there to hang out with friends, but I will be doing a couple of panels, a signing and a reading, because among other things, it’s right after the launch of the Human Division episodes.

Nebula Awards Weekend: This will be my last Nebula Weekend as President of SFWA. We’ll be giving out Nebula awards and honoring Gene Wolfe as our latest Grand Master.

It’s likely I will be at LoneStarCon 3, this year’s Worldcon in San Antonio, although this hasn’t been confirmed.

Otherwise, you probably shouldn’t expect to see me at a science fiction convention this year in public mode.

For those who are asking whether I will tour for The Human Division: It seems likely although nothing is confirmed yet.  Likewise, I will have a couple one-off appearances over the course of the year in support of one or the other of the books. Those have not been confirmed yet, however. I will let you know when they are.

UPCOMING PROJECTS

With the notable exception of 101 Uses For a Spare Goat, I have no upcoming books under contract. Please do not panic, this does not mean that I do not have any ideas for future novels. I do have ideas for future novels. What I don’t have are contracts for these ideas. I am not concerned about this, so there is no reason for you to be concerned about it either. I think the chances are pretty good I can sell whatever novel I write next.

Generally speaking I have made it a standard policy not to talk in any detail about possible future projects; that way no one is disappointed if something I’m working on either doesn’t pan out or requires a longer schedule. What I will say is that I do intend to write a novel this year, and if it’s the novel I think is most likely, it will be stand-alone. I have a couple of other projects I’m thinking about for this year, but novels pay the mortgage, so the realization of those other projects will largely be contingent on good progress on a novel.

Suffice to say I don’t intend to spend 2013 just shooting zombies in the head. I want you guys to have things to read in 2014 and beyond. That said, one of the reasons for me to cut back my travel schedule in 2013 is to spend a little more time relaxing and enjoying myself. Which is to say one of my big projects in 2013 is working on the correct balance between work and life. I think that’s a pretty good project to invest time in.

Two Quick Notes on The God Engines and OMW

And they are:

1. The God Engines is one of the top ten science fiction/fantasy novellas of the 21st century (to date), according to the Locus Online 2012 All-Centuries poll, which now covers short fiction as well. Here are all the short fiction rankings. I am pleased, but don’t let that stop you from arguing about the results one way or another. Heck, it wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t!

2. For those of you wondering about the status of the Old Man’s War movie, I’ll note that today starts another option window for the producers, which means that whether they make the movie or not, I still get paid another chunk of money. Go me! However, the reason they continued the option is because they’re still working away on the adaptation. They’re not going just give me money because they like me. They don’t like me that much.

Also, while on the subject of Old Man’s War, I’ll note today is the 8th anniversary of its official release date, January 1, 2005 (the ten year anniversary I noted the other day was for Tor’s offer to buy the book, just in case you’re confused on the subject, as you might reasonably be).

Not a bad start to 2013.

First Cat Picture of 2013 Plus 2012 Stats Report

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first, with the first cat picture of the year:

Clearly Ghlaghghee had a late night. Best not to disturb her.

Second, here are the stats for Whatever for 2012. WordPress’ stats software recorded 8.165 million views last year, which is up from 5.409 million in 2011, which is up roughly 50% over the previous year. That’s a pretty good jump for the year; as a contrast, the jump from 2010 to 2011 was 5.4 percent. I attribute the jump this year to a number of  blockbuster posts, most notably “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.” The month with the largest number of views was May, with 1.1 million (not coincidentally the month of the “Straight White Male” post); The lowest number of views were in February, with 436,000.

In addition to the views recorded by the WordPress stats package (which records only views of Whatever, not the entire Scalzi.com site), the stats package from my host provider 1&1 (which records only views of the rest of the Scalzi.com site and not Whatever — I know, it’s confusing) shows another 2.1 million views, so the whole of my Scalzi.com empire popped over ten million views in 2012.

Now, this is where I note my usual caveats regarding the WordPress stat package, which is that before 2008, when I switched over to WordPress VIP (and Whatever stopped being recorded by both stats packages), there was a large discrepancy between number of views and visits recorded by both stats packages, with WordPress stats often significantly lower than the 1&1 stats, sometimes by 50% or more. To add to the confusion, Google Analytics (which I also have tracking Whatever) consistently reports lower numbers of views than WordPress; for example, in December, WordPress has Whatever getting 749,000 views; Google has it at 718,000. None of these count RSS feed views (which can be significant for me) or other various forms of syndication. And of course “views” are not the same as “unique visitors”; the latter number is almost always lower than the former (WordPress’ stats package only started offering info on unique visitors in the last few weeks so I don’t have a number for those for all of 2012).

All of which is to say a) I don’t have a true number for the views and visits for Whatever, b) I suspect the WordPress stats package is underreporting both, c) but I use it for tracking anyway because one has to use something. No matter how you slice it, however, 8.165 million views in a year does not suck, and neither does a 50% jump in views in a year, especially 14 years into the run of Whatever. I’m very pleased with how the site did over the course of 2012.

Other fun data (these provided by Google Analytics): The United States is unsurprisingly the country from which I receive the largest percentage of visits (71%), followed by Canada (7%), the UK (6%), Australia (2.6%) and Germany (1.5%). In the US, California gives me the highest number of visits (15% of the US share), followed by New York (7%), Texas (5.5%), Washington (state) (5.2%) and Illinois (4.88%). My current home state of Ohio comes in 7th, with 3.6%. Additionally unsurprisingly, 91% of my traffic came from computers/devices set with English language preferences (keyboards, etc); German was a distant number two at 1.1%.

Browsers: more than 30% of visits come through a Chrome browser, followed by Firefox at 27% and Safari at 21%, and of the latter, I imagine most of those are through a mobile Apple device, an assumption bolstered by the fact that iOS is the number three OS used to view the site (15%), after Mac (22%) and Windows (52%). Almost half (47%) of my traffic came from people visiting the site directly; 35% were linked in from another site while 16% came here by using a search engine. The top referrers were Twitter (18%), and Facebook (17%), which tells you some of what you need to know about the advance of social media these days and its ability to drive traffic.

My own quick and dirty assessment of all these data is one, my readership continues to be more or less like me (i.e., first world educated nerd), and that while social media like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter may be generally killing off the blogosphere — because they are so much easier to use/maintain for the vast majority of humans — they’re doing great things for my site, because people promiscuously share links to it on social networks. I hope they continue to do so.

My plans for Whatever in 2013? The same as they are every year: Just keep writing about things that interest me, and posting occasional pictures of cats and sunsets. It’s worked so far. I imagine it’ll keep working.