Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thank you, readers

I write because I have ideas I want to share. For a very long time those ideas rested inside my head or escaped in conversations. Now I put down my thoughts "on cyber paper". Various people have urged me to write a book and I started that venture a few months ago, initially chronicling my life. It was much easier to start having already had several months of writing this blog. The blog was not meant to be like training wheels but it has proved useful in that way.

When I began this blog I had no targets; I still have no targets. I write because that is what I want to do. Those who read the blog do so because they like what they are reading. That is a nice meeting of interests. However, I wont pretend that writing comes without a little vanity. I was interested in whether there was a sizable audience for my writing. In the first month when I started to track readers (May 2007) the blog registered 565 visits/1024 page views in the month (about 18 readers a day). The readership rose gently through July to 812 visits/1260 page views (about 26 readers a day). From August the readership really took off to around 2300 visits/3800 page views (about 75 readers a day), and remains steady. I know that bad events in August put my blog on the radar screen of many new readers, when the hurricane season began and people from outside the region sought information about "Dean". Disasters in Barbados such as the cave-in at Brittons Hill and the spate of awful road accidents meant that I got many more "news hound" visitors. But it seems that most of them stayed. That pleases me. It suggests that I have enough relevance other than being a place to find out about bad news.

I know that a good portion of my readers are family and friends, but there are many readers whom I do not know at all except through their comments. Some of the unknowns are fellow bloggers, but most appear to be simple readers. I hope that all of you spread the word and that I can reach out to a wider audience.

Those of you who read the blog regularly will have noticed a lot of changes in the past few weeks in terms of presentation. Time is important for all things. My "vacation" time, which began in early December gave me time to tinker and I added features that pleased me but also gave the blog a more interactive feel. Readers can subscribe and get alerts of new postings by e-mail. The guest book will eventually be a wonderful trace of from where readers are coming and it's a nice way for people to just say "hello".

Blogging tends to be friendly. Some blogs have decided that being confrontational is their style and they have their place. I think content is important but so too is tone. If the only way to get myself noticed is to litter what I say or write with invective then I feel that I have nothing much to offer. If know someone well and know them to be bad then they deserve blasting. But if most of what I know of someone is what I read about them or impressions based on what I see then I think I had better watch my cyber tongue. I know too well how often I am misunderstood!

It is hard to write every day, even though ideas never stop flowing. The process of creating something readable needs a lot of positive elements. Lack of interruption is the main element; and preferably for more than an hour. For that reason I tend to write in the early morning before there is much life around, or late at night when most are sleeping. Writing during the day tends to take more hours and is rarely a smooth process.

I have tried to keep blogging in a pure sense: very little self-editing, and few corrections other than spell-checking. The blogs are a record of the moments, warts and all.

Finally, this blog may take a slight change of course in coming weeks. I have tried to tempt some friends and family to try their hand at writing for a wider audience and asked them to offer "guest blogs". I have had a few yeses but so far no text. I wont push them because I know that when the muse is ready she will move. I look forward to this wider sharing of ideas.

As we wind down the year I know that many people think of the fresh start that the new year can bring. I am no different. We live for progress. I remember two phrases attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: "You must be the change you want to see in the world." and "Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." My blogs have tried to be faithful to the first quotation and I am surely indulging myself in having the liberty of the second.

Life is starting around me. It's 7.25am. My father-in-law is trying to make fresh coffee for himself (I deliberately am not helping him but told him what to do--teach a man to fish...). He now needs help because he put the whole beans in the machine and wonders why the water is just coming out a faint dull brown colour! He is an intellectual so I will bring him into contact with reality such as the need to grind the beans first. My little daughter has now woken and come to give me a hug. The phone has started to ring. I think that marks the end of my "free time".

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