Occasionally I get curious about what impression my blog makes on other people. I get a little feedback in the comments (though only about 2% of my readers comment, so I’m pretty sure that the comments provide a very biased sampling). So I have to rely on cruder tools than direct feedback.
One tool I use sometimes is to look at word-count frequencies of my blog. This doesn’t tell me what people think of my blog, but it does let me know what topics I’ve been babbling about lately (and maybe what I’ve put too much attention on). Simple word frequency lists are rather boring, so I do what many people do when wanting a quick visual representation of word frequency: I use wordle. You can feed in a web page, a chunk of text, or (most convenient for me) a blog link that has an RSS feed. (I’ve not yet found a convenient way to get Wordle to process a larger subset of the blog posts than just the recent RSS feed—I would like to analyze a full year of posts, for example.)
The large words (“course” , “students”, “class”, “lab”, “design”, … ) reflect the recent domination of the blog by my musings about the new applied circuits course. For those who don’t care about either circuits or course design, I apologize, but I think that a big chunk of my summer will be spent thinking about this course. I’ll probably write a blog post about each lab I try out, as I’ve found that to be a good way to summarize labs from the home-school physics course—both as a student and as a course designer.
I’ll probably have a little more on the physics course this summer also, since my son and I are not quite done with the mechanics half of the book (we’ve finishing up the entropy chapter this week, and will start on thermodynamics next week) and we’re still looking for ways to finish the soda-bottle rocket lab.