Readers with good memories will recall both that January 21st 2010 was Tet Zoo’s fourth birthday, and that I wrote about ‘four years of operation’ on that day. I had more to say about the subject in 2009, a year of Tet Zooery. Buuut… then things went downhill, and I had to take that break, and then all that other stuff happened, and – well – I ended up not finishing the 4th birthday series. Purely in the interests of publishing it and getting it out of the way (better late than never), herewith find the last, very belated, instalment in my thoughts on the whole fourth birthday thing [the adjacent image is completely irrelevant; it's a stone angel I walk past at least twice a day]. Remember that I’m looking back at the year Jan 2009 to Jan 2010 (and you might need to refresh your memory by reading part 1 and part 2)…
Work-wise, 2009 represented the sort of combination I’ve become used to since 2007: a mixture of writing books, doing TV research, and acting as a technical consultant and editor. I worked with some smart, experienced authors, editors, TV people and artists during the year (shout-outs to Julius Csotonyi, Paul Docherty, Davide Bonnadonna, Francisco Gascó, Peter Minister and Luis Rey [pic below shows Luis getting his first look at The Great Dinosaur Discoveries... wow, what a great book!])… but, on the negative side of things, I continue to be dismayed and upset by the piss-poor artwork that makes it into the popular ‘prehistoric animal’ literature. I was going to say a lot more about this subject – in fact, my initial plan was to publish an open letter on the matter – but having spoken with colleagues I’ve been advised against this course of action. You might like to read between the lines and see the comment here. Things really need to change, but no-one has the guts, or cares enough, to do anything about it.
I’ve continued in my capacity as a handling editor for Cretaceous Research and (am I insane?) have also taken on commitments for Historical Biology. I’ve also been working with colleagues to put together the multi-authored volume resulting from the ‘Dinosaurs and Other Saurians – A Historical Perspective’ meeting, held in London in May 2008. The volume has been somewhat delayed (sigh… I won’t say why) but is on schedule to appear soon in 2010. I will talk about it a lot when it’s out [image below shows mice photographed on the London underground in December 2009. Completely irrelevant, but... awwww A serious question: the House mice on the underground seem particularly small. Has anyone ever studied them?].
I’ve also continued to do local conservation work and fieldwork where possible (I spent time in October in Libya). Another blog I contribute to – SV-POW! – had an outstanding year in 2009, though I have to say that my input there has diminished to the point of non-participation over the last few months. More on that soon (at SV-POW!, rather than here). In January 2010 a bunch of us set up Pterosaur.net. I have stuff there, but I can’t see myself finding the time to contribute much more, if anything. Pterosaur.net now has its own blog, and you should definitely keep an eye on this for hot pterosaur news. As you can, hopefully, imagine, any ‘spare’ writing time I have these days has to be spent on Tet Zoo: so, my apologies to all those people who ask me to do interviews and such for other blogs. I just cannot fit this in as well [image below: evidence that you can look at Tet Zoo's toad articles while in Libya].
4 million hits can’t be wrong (does that make sense?)
Tet Zoo has been a successful venture. In the article on the site’s second birthday, you’ll note that I referred to 2400-2700 hits per day (hpd). About 4000 hpd was more typical by the time of the third birthday, and by then I was making noises that ‘audience saturation’ may have been reached, and that there were no new readers to be had. Well, that wasn’t true, as the average number of daily hits has continued to climb, and is now more like 6000 hpd, with over 8000 hpd not being uncommon [graph below dates to 15th October 2009]. If you’re interested in seeing the site stats any time, check the bravenet counter at below left. Yes, I know that ‘number of hits’ does not = ‘number of readers’, but I also use google analytics and this all seems to be fairly reliable.
In fact, Tet Zoo ver 2 had its 4 millionth hit on the 10th January 2010. This works out to an average of (gets out calculator)…. about 1 million hits a year, and that ain’t bad for a site that covers technical zoology and nothing else. As some have noted, I think that Tet Zoo has demonstrated that fairly heavy, fully referenced articles on (often) arcane topics can still have mass appeal, I think in part because this stuff just isn’t out there anywhere else (well, except on the increasing number of other excellent zoology blogs) [image below: my 2009 birthday present, from my brother. Completely irrelevant, but neat, huh?].
Tet Zoo Club (you DO NOT TALK about Tet Zoo Club)
I don’t know everyone who visits Tet Zoo, of course (maybe this is your chance to say hi), but I do know that a significant percentage of interested non-scientists visit and comment, and this is in addition to the wonderful specialised audience who help make the site so popular. I wish to thank all the commenters – regular or otherwise – who make Tet Zoo more interesting that it might otherwise be. The regular commenters – the ones whose names you’ll recognise, if you’re a regular reader – form a sort of Tet Zoo club or posse. Maybe we should all wear badges, or have Tet Zoo membership cards or something. Given the site’s success, I do get disappointed and a bit surprised when Tet Zoo fails to get mentioned by journalists who list ‘good science blogs’, or fails to get nominated or short-listed for awards, but I suppose this is because it’s rather ‘niche’, and there’s nothing I can do about it [below shows me and a Mandalorian, photographed at a sci-fi convention in December 2009. Jeremy Bulloch was at the same meeting, but I didn't get any pics of him. Also completely irrelevant... hmm, there's a theme here].
As some of my friends and correspondents know, things are not particularly easy for me at the moment. Hassles like scraping together money, keeping up with deadlines and dealing with extraordinary correspondence have lately provided enormous obstacles that get in the way of things like blogging, and stress has been so great lately that I’ve been thinking about killing Tet Zoo off [NOTE: all of this was written BEFORE the Death of Tet Zoo article, and things are generally ok at the time of writing], though I realise that this idea is more inspired by seething frustration than anything else. John Conway (B.Sc. – congrats John) said to me recently that blogging is like crack addiction, and I think he’s right… I have a horrible feeling that – no bad how things get – blogging for Tet Zoo is a habit I can’t shake. And this seems like a good point on which to end.
For previous Tet Zoo birthday articles see…