There being few Dickenson’s among us (and perhaps more than few Dickens’) we write to be read. Shelley is on about traffic and audience this morning, noting that her new triple play — Just Shelley, The Bb Gun, and ScriptTeaser: aggregated at Planet Powers — receives less traffic but probably has about the same audience as Burning Bird, her old site. The topic interests me because I moved in April, haven’t posted at the old site since then, have begun to approach but haven’t reached the levels of attention measurement that I had at the old site, and as interestingly perhaps, don’t see the levels falling all that fast at the old site. There are still as many visitors from Google over there as there ever were.

I think I have about the same active readership that I’ve had for the last few years. I think the number of people reading here is slowly growing, and that I retain my core readers because we are part of an active conversational community that shares similar interests. We drop in on each other’s blogs and comment. We point to each other’s work. We behave in other words much like the A-list, a group of people who have developed collegial relationships in the online world since before the web was the medium, people (largely men) who share similar interests and point to each other and have developed reputations due to their good work and who draw traffic because they are lively and consistent writers. In an obscure way they are perhaps gatekeepers, since to be noticed by more than one of them in a given week will certainly spike readership at our less well trafficked (therefore not A-list?) blogs.

deja vu. I feel like I’ve written this post before, and probably I have. If I’m saying anything new or different, it is found in my echo of Shelley’s sense that there are a core group of readers who make up an “audience” for our work, then there are a lot of drop-ins via search engines. Those peope are still dropping in at Sandhill Trek. If anybody cares to add my trickle to the firehose of their aggravator, they can subscribe via Feedlot here. I think it’s Feedlot? Feedburner? Whatever…. mostly people who subscribe probably don’t read, unless they are very selective in the number of subscriptions they manage. The voracious Scoble needs an aggregator of course, like a mainlining junkie needs an IV hook-up. And David Weinberger entered reader rehab over a year ago. My experience with aggregated subscriptions began before people were fooling around with RSS when the Times of London and a couple of other papers offered free online subscriptions by content. The content backed up in my subscription list and for all I know it’s still backing up, like a pile of unread newspapers on the back porch. Or maybe that was some pre-version 1.0/2.0 flavor of RSS. It was a nineties thing, for sure.

I’m grateful for the attention people give my writing, and I play with strategies for broadening that readership. I toy with being mean. I try to steal other people’s good ideas without the theft being too noticeable. In ripping off that last link, I discover that Madame Levy’s dog is sick, which makes my whole post seem even more trivial.

So let me end it on this note… I will probably always read Shelley as long as she is writing. Same goes for other powerful writers I have been fortunate enough to discover here. I will continue to visit with friends who share my interests, tout the poetry of Sweatman, puzzle over the messages from J. Alva, marvel at the working class genius of folks like BMO, struggle to find a way for the avocation to pay for it itself, admire friends like Jeneane who integrate their life and their work… I will continue to link like a mo-fo and hope others link back when they see something worth linking. Sometime soon, I’m going to comb my old blog roll and get it re-displayed here, and I’m going to contact people like Joey deVilla who are on my list and still have me linked at the old blog. Hopefully this will be another expansion of the pebble-in-a-pool ribbling of concentric circles that comprises audience here in the ’sphere. Readership is worth going after, but the way we pursue it is a matter of some delicacy.