My recent Amazon-exit piece got an order of magnitude more traffic then even the post popular outings here normally do. Which turned my mind to thoughts of blogging in 2020, the why and how of the thing. Here they are, along with hit-counts and referer data from last week. Probably skip this unless you’re interested in social-media dynamics and/or publishing technology.
Numbers · In the first week after publication, Bye, Amazon was read somewhat more than 614,669 times by a human (notes on the uncertainty below).
The referers with more than 1% of that total were Twitter (18.13%), Hacker News (17.09%), Facebook (10.55%), Google (4.29%), Vice (3.40%), Reddit(1.66%), and CNBC (1.09%). I think Vice was helped by getting there first. I genuinely honestly have no idea how the piece got mainlined so fast into the media’s arteries.
But aren’t blogs dead? · Um, nope. For every discipline-with-depth that I care about (software/Internet, politics, energy economics, physics), if you want to find out what’s happening and you want to find out from first-person practitioners, you end up reading a blog.
They’re pretty hard to monetize, which means that the people who write them usually aren’t primarily bloggers, they’re primarily professional economists or physicists or oil analysts or Internet geeks. Since most of us don’t even try to monetize ’em, they’re pretty ad-free and thus a snappy reading experience.
Dense information from real experts, delivered fast. Why would you want any other kind?
Static FTW · ongoing ran slow but anyone who was willing to wait fifteen seconds or so got to read that blog. One reason is that the site is “static” which is to say all the payload is in a bunch of ordinary files in ordinary directories on a Linux box, so the web server just has to read ’em out of the disk (where by “disk” I mean in-memory filesystem cache when things are running hot) and push ’em out over the wire. (The bits and pieces are described and linked to from the Colophon.)
It turns out that at the very hottest moments, the Linux box never got much above 10% CPU, but the 100M virt NIC was saturated.
I’ve never regretted writing my own blogging system from the ground up. I’m pretty sure I’ve learned things about the patterns of traffic and attention on the Internet that I couldn’t have learned any other way.
If I were going to rewrite this, since everything’s static, I’d just run it out of an S3 bucket and move the publishing script into a Lambda function. It’d be absurdly cheap and it’d laugh at blog storms like last week’s.
It’s not a top priority.