Emily Lakdawalla • Jul 25, 2008
Make your mark on the map
A year ago today I added a "ClustrMap" to the homepage of this weblog. A ClustrMap is essentially a glorified hit counter. In addition to recording that my homepage has gotten a hit, it notes the location of the IP address from which my page was accessed, and periodically updates the map with red dots that show from what locations on the globe the homepage is being accessed. I added it for the simple reason that I was curious to see where people are reading from. I knew, based on the email that I get from you, that you were an international audience, but I had no way of knowing whether the amount of email I get from outside the US was representative or not.
The results surprised me. There's a dense cluster of readers in North America, as I expected, but it seems just as dense in Europe. In fact, only a little more than half of you readers are in North America, and fully a third of you are in Europe. Considering the fact that you have to read English in order to read this blog, it's a huge (and very pleasant) surprise to me that the proportion of European readers is so high. And there are respectable numbers of you in all the other continents as well. I'm especially tickled to see dots in such far-flung places as Australia's Red Desert, the icy harbor of Resolute in the Canadian High Arctic, and two spots in the South Pacific -- I'm dying to know what Tahitians or Samoans or Cook Islanders are responsible for those; there also seems to be a regular reader on Reunion or Mauritius in the southern Indian Ocean. Thank you all for visiting! The density of dots on this map really illustrates the point that space exploration is of interest to people around the world, even people in places without homegrown space programs. And that exploring our solar system is a cause behind which the world can unify.
The "hit counter" is far from perfect -- the biggest problem with it is that it doesn't count any of you who read the blog via an RSS reader, and go straight to the article-level pages rather than reading on the homepage. So it undercounts my readers by whatever fraction of you are reading this via RSS. And, each year, the ClustrMap service archives my map and resets with a blank one, so tomorrow all those dots are going to disappear on the little icon map at the top of my page. So I have a favor to ask of you all. When you read this note, please click on this link to go to the weblog homepage, which will mark your little dot on my map, wherever you are, and begin rebuilding the nifty little red-dot database. It won't fix the undercounting problem, but it will open up new little dots at each of the locations from which you all are reading.
Here are the maps -- look for your dot!
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