Welcome to my, now very, very definitely, traditional review of the past year.
A new roundabout – Jennett’s Park, Bracknell – I have no idea what it is meant to signify
Impact and reach
I have continued to post at about ten-day intervals; this is my 273rd post. As I wrote last year, there never seems to any difficulty in coming up with ideas to write about; the problem is more in deciding which one to use and when. As happened last year, some of my blogs have, albeit in slightly modified forms, made it into print (Cardoso & Leather, 2019).
Many of you remain lukewarm about the idea that social media has a place in science. I would, however, ask you to think again and if you need any more convincing, read this paper that very clearly demonstrates the benefits arising from such interactions (Côté & Darling, 2018); evidence that science communication via social media is a very worthwhile use of our time. Highlights of the year included a joint blog with Stephen Heard, about paper titles. Semi-related to my Blogging and Tweeting are my other forms of science communication, giving talks and helping at outreach events, such as the Big Bang Fair, which continue unabated. I also had three Skype a Scientist dates this year, two with schools in the USA and one with a school in Switzerland. I really enjoyed the experience and hope that the pupils were as pleased as I was. If you have not come across this scheme, check them out here.
My blog had visitors from 179 countries (181 last year, 165 in 2017, 174 in 2016 and 150 in 2015), so only another 16 to go to achieve total global domination 😊 My blog received 63 710 views (54 300 last year, 40 682 in 2017, 34 036 in 2016; 29 385 in 2015). As with last year, most views came from the USA, with views from India holding on to 4th place and Nigeria entering the top ten for the first time.
Top ten countries for views
My top post (excluding my home page) in 2019 was the same as last year, one of my aphid posts, A Winter’s Tale – Aphid Overwintering, (with almost 200 more reads this year than last, 4108 to be precise) although there may have been some disappointment felt by those who were hoping to find a reference to Shakespeare’s play or the song by Queen. It is now my all-time winner with just over 13 000 views, with Not All Aphids are Vegans with over 11 000 views still maintaining an honourable second place. My top ten posts continue to be either about aphids or entomological techniques/equipment, which I guess means that I am filling an entomological niche. Aptly, my two posts about the loss of insects made it into the top ten this year.
My Pick & Mix link fests stalwartly foot the table, although disappointingly, my second collection of natural history haikus is also in the bottom ten 😦
Although in general, there still seems to be no signs of the number of people viewing my site reaching an asymptote or for that matter, the figures for December were the lowest of the year, by a considerable margin. Is this the beginning of the end?
Linear still the best fit but is it levelling off?
Tweeting for entomology
I still find my interactions on Twitter very rewarding, although this past year I have become somewhat more political; Brexit and Trump, need I say more? Most of my tweets are, however, still entomological and ecological and the increase in political comment has not stopped my followers from growing. I finished 2018 with 6884 followers and begin 2020 with just over 8000, 8088 to be precise. Many thanks to all my readers and especially to those who take the time to comment as well as pressing the like button. My top commenters, as indeed they were last year, were fellow bloggers, Emma Maund, Emily Scott, Jeff Ollerton, Amelia from A French Garden and Philip Strange. I look forward to interacting with you all in 2020.
In theory I am semi-retired from my daytime job, academia but I hasten to add, not from entomology. I do, however, seem to be spending considerably more than 60% of my time doing stuff that I thought I would no longer have to do 😦
This time last year, I reported that I had submitted a proposal to OUP for a semi-popular entomology book. I am happy to report that it was accepted, and I am now behind schedule in writing Insects – A Very Short Introduction 🙂
On a less happy note; to me, this has been, in some ways, a horrendous year. Due largely to the selfish, bigoted and xenophobic behaviour of a large proportion of my very privileged generation, we are set to leave the great European project that has kept Europe largely peaceful for more than forty years. I would remind you, that not all of us voted to deprive our children and grandchildren of the rights and privileges that we have enjoyed since 1975. It is also appropriate to remember that my father and his generation fought to enable us to enjoy that peace.
My late father (a fervent pro-European) and I (equally pro-EU), both aged 21; he in 1945 after having served in the Royal Marines since he was 17, endured the D-Day landings and fought in the Pacific, me in 1976, in my penultimate year at Leeds University. My teeth would have been the same but I had braces as a child 🙂
On the other hand, a lot of good things have happened; new friends, old friends and family all make life worth living, so in the words of the song “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again”.
A Happy and Prosperous New Year to you all.
Cardoso, P. & Leather, S.R. (2019) Predicting a global insect apocalypse. Insect Conservation & Diversity, 12, 263-267.
*The number of views for my annual reviews are as follows: 2014 (86), 2015 (110), 2016 (179), 2017 (115, of which 112 were in January).