Is there anybody out there?
The first week of teaching in any new semester is always hectic. This has kept me from blogging about the subject of readership on the Maltese blogosphere earlier. Still, better a little late than never. Right?
As a first digression, I'll start with a joke. I don't like blond jokes because they're usually quite silly, but I found the most extraordinary blond joke on Owen Cutajar's blog yesterday. MaltaGirl is the one who usually brings such things to the attention of the Maltese blogosphere, but she's now experimenting with remote blogging and apparently it's not going as smoothly as she hoped. I'm sure she'll sort it out very soon. Anyway, with that out of the way, I can now turn my undivided attention to the topic I've been meaning to blog about since last year, or at least since last week.
In some ways it's fair to say that it all started with a rather simple question from David Friggieri in his last post for 2005. He asked (Maltese) bloggers, "are we being read?" An understandable question for anyone who, unlike author Ġużé Stagno, sees blogging as a worthy creative avenue. For those who have truly understood the nature of blogging, like author Immanuel Mifsud, staying away from blogging is probably harder than can be explained in just a few words. Why else would Immanuel start a new blog when he clearly (unlike Stagno) has so many other worthy things to spend his time on?
In my first blog entry for 2006, I shared 4 lists of blogs that mean something or other to me. I bring up that post here for two reasons. The first is a comment from a certain CC Camilleri (a reader of my blog, no doubt) who is facetiously incredulous about my blog lists and what I said about them. Who in their right mind would read the blogs I read? And who has the time to do that sort of thing anyway? Perhaps I should have mentioned that I no longer read newspapers, except on the web.
It is mainly through blogs that I heard about the different views on the spelling/pronunciation of the soon-to-be Maltese EU currency. The news is just the news (or is it?) but it's from blogs that I became aware of the ups and downs of this issue. Same goes for the recent earthquake near Greece, which was felt in Malta. Still, this doesn't really have anything to do with the question of readership, raised by David. So let me not deviate again from what I said I'd write about in this post. One joke is more than enough.
Readership of Maltese websites in general, not just blogs, is something I've had a keen interest in since 1996 when I created visitmalta.com for the National Tourism Organisation of Malta. Two years later (without any support from or association with the National Tourism Organisation) I started the MaltaMedia Online Network from Ray Bajada's farmhouse in Gozo and my apartment on the lower east side of New York, after a brainstorming session with Ray over coffee at Xlendi Bay in the summer of 1998. MMON now enjoys an overall average monthly readership of 300,000. Mind you, these are not hits. If we're counting hits, than it should be said that the MaltaMedia Online Network receives about 6 million hits from over 2 million monthly page views every month. This means that during 2005 we saw a total of about 3.5 million visits, which generated about 75 million hits.
Does this really mean we're successful? That's a tricky question. Success is relative. We can always do with more readers/viewers. MMON's following has grown regularly over the years and I have no doubt that it will continue to grow. Right about now, as ever, we could do with some more income to cover the ever-growing expenses associated with running even the smallest network of websites. Yet there's very little other than death or serious illness that would stop me from dedicating as much time as I do to MMON.
I'm genuinely troubled by Sharon Spiteri's lament for Tabellina. I know exactly how disheartening (demi-/semi-)professional Internet publishing can be. Finding contributors for a project like the Tabellina is a herculean feat. Having said that, running the MaltaMedia Online Network has often made me think that Sisyphus had it easier with his boulder. And yet MMON is still alive (and growing!) after 8 full years of ups and downs.
Earlier in this post I said that there were two reasons I brought up my recent blog entry about my personal blogosphere. The other reason is that I unwittingly left out a prolific and consistent contributor to the Maltese blogosphere from my lists. I meant no offense. Although I believe that he's a regular reader of my blog, I just don't get his blogs...even though I have an occasional peek at least once a month. I really mean no offense. Perhaps the basic idea that recently drove two related entries (here and here) is the reason we Maltese feel awkward about such issues. I still mean no offense. If I'm (un)lucky, maybe he doesn't like my podcasts.
So, at the risk of subscribing to the damnation of eternal return, I'll answer David's question ("are we being read?") with a very simple answer: of course we are!