Bill Long 11/30/06
A New Day in Communication and Understanding
If this is your first or your fiftieth visit to this web site, please receive my warmest greeting and gratitude for your visit! On this site you will find hundreds and hundreds of essays which I have written over the past few years. My aim at first was just to "share" what I knew with whoever wanted to know what I had to say. Many of you have been kind enough to write to me, and almost all the email exchages I have had with you have been pleasant and professional. But now, as this web site is "maturing," my interests are also developing. I would like to see this as increasingly as a place where communication, questioning, and understanding can be shared world-wide. [Read below to see why this isn't so unrealistic]. I often quote readers in my essays, and I would love to hear from you when you have something to add or a question to ask. The reason I cultivate this "global" hope for communication is that I recently signed up for Google Analytics, a free service provided by the .com giant. It "tracks" the country of origin of all readers of my site. I have learned that in the last week, for example, readers from 112 countries around the globe have been on these pages. This astonishing number is humbling, as well as gratifying, to me. So, let's look at this site increasingly as one where I provide some "fodder" or first thoughts on a subject, and you feel free to join silently in the conversation or add your thoughts to it. We will be creating a "global" community independent of political boundaries or politics. Let me introduce some statistics for you, and then state my hope in slightly different words.
Google.com gives you so much information about your sight that I jokingly told a friend that they do everything but plunge an endoscope up it. Here is what I have learned about the country of origin of my visitors in the last week. The largest number (63%) come from the USA. The UK contributes 9.2%, Canada 6.4% and Ireland 2.6%. Surprising it is to me that the people from India comprise 1.2% of the visits to the site, followed by Germany (1.0%), Australia (.8%), Turkey (.79%), France (.77%) and Italy (.75%). The "rest of the world" contributes 11.1% of visitors to this site. That "rest of the world" comprises 100+ countries. Let me just give you a sample of what some of these countries are, in no particular order.
I have double-digit readers in the Philippines, China, Singapore, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Greece, Brazil, Sweden, Hong Kong, Japan, Hungary and many other countries. Some of the other countries whose residents have come onto my site are the Arab or Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. New countries such as the Baltic states are represented, as are Azerbaijan, Armenia and other central Asian countries. I even had a reader from the Northern Mariana Islands, Tonga and Papua New Guinea. I am delighted to see a small number of African readers, and I am especially impressed that readers from Malawi and Botswana seem to have found the site helpful. I even got a reader from Mongolia, though that was in the week before Thanksgiving. I am gratified and humbled to know that people in so many regions of the world where English is not their native language have nevertheless tried to make sense of some of the thoughts I have on these pages. I will vow continually to make my essays clear and readable to people who have little understanding of English, as well as challenging, I hope, for those who are native speakers. And, since I have studied 11 languages over the years, I hope some day to put some thoughts here in German, Italian, French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Turkish, Hebrew and other languages.
Back to the Worldwide Conversation
When I began writing on this site about 3 years ago, I wanted to have it be a forum for the teeming thoughts in my mind. I wanted to lay out, as it were, how the world looked to me. Indeed, I still want to do that. But because of the breadth of readership, I also want increasingly to see this site as a place where a worldwide conversation might be possible---where it otherwise is not possible. I could do that with "trackbacks" after each essay, but I prefer to receive your emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) so I can either respond personally if it calls for a response or post some of your words on the site. There are so many "world stories" that grab the headlines these days, but I am sure that is not the only thing that people want to talk about. Talk about other things in your letters to me; I will surely like to hear from you.
Let me close this essay by telling a story. Last summer, when I was competing in the National Senior Spelling Bee in the USA (I placed third), the Oregonian, the major where I live, ran a story on me and my commitment to words and spelling. What amazed the Oregonian was the volume of response to the article; so much so that they had to do a follow-up piece after the competition ended. Apparently the readers were so grateful that the paper was dealing with a positive subject (and not the latest murders) that they wanted to hear more about it.
That is a good story to think of as you read this site. I will speak, almost always, about learning. I try to stimulate your thinking as well as inform you on areas I have studied. But just as the Spelling Bee story generated interest, I hope that these essays do in some ways so that you will feel free to share how you see things or what you have learned. I will be grateful for it. Enjoy,