Where are you? ClusterMaps

This entry is a bit recursive. Today I’m blogging about blogging. Specifically a rather interesting tool called ClustrMaps which give an idea of where visitors like you come from – the guests of Sugar Mountain Farm. I didn’t imagine that so many people would visit from outside our area! To see a larger version of the map, click on the image above – it is fascinating…

When I started this blog it was a little experiment and I didn’t know what was going to become of it. I wasn’t familiar with blogs although I have a web site for our farm and my wife Holly’s portrait gallery. I had heard the ‘blog’ term but only seen one, that of an online friend Charles Fry at Frog Pond Acres. A few months after seeing Charles’s excellent site I ran across Blogger.com where I could quickly and easily setup a free blog. I enjoy writing. It’s a fun evening activity at the end of an otherwise physically active day. I enjoy sharing stories of our life here on the mountain, goings on here at our farm and photos of life in the country. Sure, why not. And so an odyssey began…

Now four short months later the SiteMeter visitor counter has broken 11,000 which amazes me. I’m sure a lot of blogs get that many visitors in a day but it is still amazing to me that so many people have visited here. I have loved ‘meeting’ visitors and getting to know them here and on other blogs. All the great comments visitors leave are a real boost!

In early December I ran across ClustrMaps on someone else’s blog and set that up here. The ClustrMap above tells the story of where you, my guests, come from in a most amazing way. Not only does it show how visitors have come from all over the world but it is an example of how software is able to automate an old task, the push pin map, in a new and better way. The dots, push pins in the old physical maps, place themselves automatically and enlarge as more visitors come from the same areas. Pretty neat!

Studying the map reveals all sorts of interesting things about the world and visitor patterns. In some areas the Clustring follows the population patterns. Yet there are other regions with large populations that are essencially void of visitors on the map. Africa and Russia have almost no dots. India too. Recently some more have been popping up in South America – Hi, Sonia! I’m not surprised there are quite a few in Australia (Hi, Abe & Happy and New Zealand – we’re both essentially rejects from the British Empire. :) To my surprise there are quite a few visitors from China. On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me that most are in the USA and Canada but I didn’t expect to get almost as many visitors coming from Europe. It has been fun to see red dots pop up to represent some friends from the physical world (Hi, J., K., B., L., P., W., D., and C.B.!) both here in Vermont, New England and else where.

Another thing that is cool is that many of you who have visited have then later written me emails from all over. It is a pity that email doesn’t come with colorful stamps from foreign countries! But best of all though is the warm messages and interesting discussions from so many people. It has helped me get to know people in distant lands – places I’ll never visit in person. Perhaps the web will help pull together the people of the world and we won’t be such strangers. Maybe it will bring lasting peace to the world. I can dream.

I suspect that over time this map will fill in more and more representing the technological English reading populations. I hope that I’ll see the empty areas fill in more as technology becomes more accessible to the poorer populations of the world. Information and sharing ideas are a power that can liberate people, giving them the ability to grow their own foods, make things for themselves, be healthier and gain more independence. “Teach a man to fish…”

So what is that thing that brings people here to Sugar Mountain Farm? What is it about this blog that interests so many diverse people across the globe? Is it farming? Rural life? How to articles? Kids? Vermont? Snow? Photos? Pigs? Other… What is it that brought you here? If you’re more than a one time reader, what is it that pulls you come back? Share your comments below – I’ll be fascinated to hear from you! Thanks for a most enjoyable first four months of blogging!

PS. While I’m mentioning great things, let me thank my web host, VONetwork who gave me a Christmas present of 50% more bandwidth for my web site in December when I was hitting the limits about half way through the month. Thanks, Nirosh – your the best!

25째F/7째F, 1/2″ Snow, Partly Sunny



About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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25 Responses to Where are you? ClusterMaps

  1. Urban Agrarian says:

    You’ve asked a very interesting question. I think the bottom line is that you are a good writer. Whole books are written on what makes a good writer, but what pulls me back is the fact I’m interested in farming, gardening, dogs and many other subjects that you write about frequently and well. You have great pictures. I learn things from your blog and am entertained as well. Each day you seem to answer the question “So, Walter, anything interesting happen lately”. in a way that keeps me wanting to hear more. I also suspect your life in the country plays into many peoples fantasy of living the same type of life, and finally your cute kids, cute puppies and cute pigs don’t hurt your popularity either. Keep on bloggin’ !

  2. Lené Gary says:

    Hey Walter,
    Your map is very cool. I’ll have to check out the site meter thing. I haven’t had any way to measure the number of hits on my blog–I’ve always seen it as a mixed blessing, but you’ve got me curious.

    I come back by your blog because I feel like you’re my neighbor. I care about how you and your pigs are doing, and of course, your family. It’s a strange way we all connect out here in cyberspace. Maybe one day we’ll cross paths out in the woods. :)

    Hope you have a wonderful New Year. Thanks for making my 2005 brighter.

  3. KS Milkmaid says:

    Hmmm….I am jealous. I don’t know if I have that many hits. Course when I had a lot of hits on blogger, I found out it was spammers attempting to spam who left real quick. Then I had this bad habit of changing the interior decor of my blog. Each time I changed my template the site meter got erased and started all over again. I now have two site meters trying to capture who comes and from where. They don’t agree with each other and then they don’t agree with my web stats either. I am talented I can even get site meters to war against each other. So I guess I just don’t need to know how many and why. I did find I have a multicultural readership too.

    But to your question, why visit? Well…I like sugar. I think I am addicted to the stuff. I just noticed a sugar creek farm blog too. I like farming too. So combine sugar and farming and well…I am hooked.

    You are a good writer. I need to visit more frequently. Also, I absolutely love the photos you put on the site.

  4. abe/happy says:

    Ok I’ll admit it im a “Blogaholic” and once I find a blog if I like it I usually cant help myself and keep going back to see what theyve been up too ~ its kinda like spying on your neighbours but they dont know it!

    Pictures are a must or a very good writing style to be able to relate to what is being written or even get the feeling that you are in their part of the world even if it is for the 5 minutes it takes to read an entry.

    Pigs~ Yukky ~ sorry Walter~ but its definaitely not the pigs on your site that makes me visit :-)

  5. I found your blog because you linked to mine; stayed on because I enjoy the pictures and writing, dogs and farming, and I DO love the pigs!

  6. rj says:

    Fair enough question. I like to read about life on the farm, without all the religious overtones. Your blog fits the bill. It’s very well written and entertaining, with lots of useful information and purdy pics. I keep some animals, too, and it’s fun to try and pick up some useful tidbits of information. Keep up the good work!

  7. P.V. says:

    I have a fantasy of getting out of the city and living on a farm. Not a big won but a old time kinda farm like i see you have like I see in the pics her on your blog. Some day.

  8. Hi Walter!
    Congratulations for the lot of visitors!

    I don’t remember how I found your blog. Maybe was through some rural blogs like Rurality, Farm Girls, Earth Home Garden … how knows… I love so much the rural life and I am attract for Vermont, too. I agree with Urban Agrarian: you are a good writer and a good photographer. Your life style is attractive to many people, I guess. I also bookmark you because you have an ecological concern and I learn so much reading your blog.

    Thanks so much for mention my name and for the link. I really appreciate it.

    Wishing you and your lovely family a Happy New Year filled with Love, Peace, Health and Joy!

  9. Katie says:

    I don’t remember how I found your blog either – I tend to blog surf on occasion following links from blog to blog. When I find one, like yours that contains topics close to my heart and is well written well I stick around.

  10. I first came to your blog by searching homesteads. I also love the mountains, cold weather, and dogs. I keep coming back for new stories, I really like that you update almost every day. I like learning about new stuff and your writing is easy to read.

  11. Jim says:

    Hi Walter-

    I wanted to check in and wish you and Holly a very Happy New Year, and to thank you for visiting Earth Home Garden even during this time of sparse postings, I’ll get back to it soon I hope.

    Your friend Jim

  12. Peggy says:

    Found you thru another blog and was hooked… have been coming back everyday since.

  13. pablo says:

    Well, my webalizer does a similar map for my visitors, and my dots were so pathetic compared to yours that I am too embarrassed to post it. I wish I knew what karma you have so I could go out and buy me some.

  14. pablo says:

    Okay, one day means your justifiably proud. Two days means your still proud. Three days means your bragging. And now four days with the same post . . .

  15. Rurality says:

    To me blogs (both reading and writing) are like having lots of penpals in faraway places! Except like you said, not so many stamps. :)

  16. Thank you everyone for you comments! I have enjoyed hearing what you like. Yes, Pablo, I’ll get back to posting and stop gloating. :) Actually, I have an excuse, several in fact:

    1) It was the holidays and I went to visit my parents and other family.

    2) I have been working on three large articles for the blog that each got too lengthy so I’m considering how to chop them down. How to articles about fencing, brooding winter chicks, and making animal feeders.

    3) I’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out the new WordPress 2.0 so I can transition over from using Blogger.com. Blogger was a good place to start but I want more control and I would like to not get locked out of my account as happened on Blogger for four days in November.

    4) I got a new PowerBook computer for Christmas and have been moving my data files over to it, getting used to it, etc.

    5) Due to the beautiful map covered with red chicken pox my head swelled up too big to fit through my office doorway so I couldn’t post. Keep me grounded, Pablo – thanks for the care package! :)

  17. Hick says:

    I think I saw my dot squished in the Sierras with a bunch of other dots.

    Answer to your question: You are doggone interesting…and your photos are wonderful

    Happy New Year

  18. scully says:

    I came because you are a neighbor. I stayed because you are a wonderful photographer, writer and storytelller.

  19. Karen in N ID says:

    Probably few hits in Russia, S Africa, S America etc because 1) people are too poor to have computers and/or 2)the repressive governments control what people are able to do online.

  20. Um… Karen, look again. The old map was fairly early on – The more recent map shows a lot of hits from those areas. People do have computers and are online in those areas. The Internet is very international – the effect is less economics than you thing.

    For example, most interest in my particular blog is probably limited to people who can read English since that is what I write in. If I wrote in French, Japanese, Russian, etc then my blog would be biased to those types of readers.

    Some places are not particularly well represented because I block the IP access from them since a huge amount of spam comes from those areas. If I get hit with a lot of spam from an IP range I block it. Not worth my wasting my time. China, Australia and the Netherlands are some of the chief culprits on that.

  21. Mellifera says:

    So here’s my two cents on why your blog is addicting… we want to farm and are definitely in the process of learning everything we can so as to reduce the trauma of being beginning farmers. : )

    Now, there seem to be two kinds of homesteaders: the kind who get bogged down and burn out and the kind who (seem to) love every minute of it. Some of that may be personality but I bet a lot of it is finding ways to work with your land and animals in a low-maintenance kind of way. I really like seeing how farmers solve the various problems they encounter and get ideas from that. Let’s see, a few of the ones I’ve really liked so far…

    -Vermont is really rocky, which makes some parts of farming difficult. You don’t seem to spend much time complaining about it though (or I just haven’t made it to those posts yet!)- you build stuff with it. I also really like using the pigs to fix up a garden spot– using them to till and fertilize doesn’t take *that much imagination, but rooting up all the rocks for you? Brilliant!

    -I like the in-the-hill pig dens. I know this is going to sound lame, but without sacrificing utility, I really want to be able to have farm grounds that are at least somewhat attractive. Day in-day out in an ugly scrubby farmyard is probably not that good for your spirits and I could see it contributing to feelings of burnout. The in-terrace pig dens are not only perfect for their needs and cost-effective, but easy on the eyes as well. They look like little Hobbit holes.

    -We want to homeschool our kids so we can all work together, and it’s great to see other people doing it and what kinds of things they do. I like all the projects- kids can too do useful things! The Halloween costumes are the best.

    -Question: How did you learn to fix (and make) so many things? I’m working on it and the only thing I can fix is the race on the sewing machine, if it’s in the right mood, and I’m not even sure what I did to it. : )

  22. Mellifera, great comment post! Thanks! As to how I learned to fix things, it’s mostly a matter of doing. I take things apart, look at how their made and tinker. Often I’ll experiment on dead stuff to figure out how they are made. After doing that a lot you gain some understanding of parts and pieces. Of course, do it safely, don’t try to sharpen a running saw… :} Equipment should be turned off, disconnected, unplugged, etc before tinkering. Just don’t be afraid to try. Cheers, -WalterJ

  23. topcat says:

    I believe you have a great site and enjoy reading what is going on. I find the things you do and how you do them very interesting. I glean good ideas and am trying to figure a way to apply them here in Alvin Texas. It looks like others are from around here. I wish I could find a site that is about the Texas gulf coast. The weather here is a little different than yours so some of your suggestions don’t work. It is currently the coldest day of the year (30 degrees and traces of snow and sleet). It will be 70 degrees in a couple of days. We have about a 300 day growing season but are truly blessed with bugs and preditors since they do well in this environment. I wondered if you are any of your readers knew of any sites similar to yours only for a little milder climate? Keep up what you are doing. I enjoy even though I don’t always comprehend lot of snow and cold weather.

  24. irma says:

    I started reading because the blog “walden effect” mentioned that you raise pigs and you have a lot of info. I continued because she is right and you are interesting. So now I am going they the archives reading all the old ones.

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