For weeks now, I’ve been promising the #52weeks crew a spreadsheet charting our progress. After much, much longer than I had ever anticipated it would take me to complete the little spreadsheet that could, however, I’m happy to share the info I’ve collected, reflect on it, and give y’all the nitty gritty on why it took so. damned. long. to complete.
It’s a good story, guys, I promise.
For quite some time now, I’ve been flirting with the idea of learning how to code. Given that one of the jobs I want more than any other in this world will require a degree– or its equivalent, whatever that may be– in Computer Science, I’ve spent much of my free time lurking around Codecademy and Khan Academy learning bits and bobs here and there about coding. Not satisfied with just learning for the sake of learning, however, I wanted to challenge myself and really figure out if I had absorbed/mastered anything on my self-guided quest to learn coding. It couldn’t be too hard to write code that could pull raw data on #52weeks from the various blogging platforms we all use, after all, and that’s basically what APIs are for… right?
Well, all of that stuff about accessing and pulling data is what APIs are for, but I was so, so wrong. My quest to code a bit of something that would automate data collection for me– you know, so I didn’t have to go to everyone’s blog by myself and gather the information didn’t go very well. In fact, it didn’t go very far at all.
One of the first problems I encountered was self-made: I sort of understood the concept of code, and could explain how things should work… but my execution of said code = absolute suckitude. The problem here, really, was that I needed more practice just familiarizing myself with the language, which is sort of hard because oh my god no big deal there are semicolons and parenthesis and how do you even get used to typing all of that it is SO unnatural and what the crap how am I ever going to get procedural fluency in this so I don’t spend 25 minutes writing each query and UGH guys I cannot even with this and really I just want to be good at it.
Yes, that’s exactly what went through my mind, and no, I am not mad about it because learning is hard and sometimes it requires struggle. Once I did get things sort-of working (much love to [darling] and the other engineer brains who hand-held me through the process), though, I had inconsistencies across the board as not every writer participating in our little project has been using the #52weeks tag on their posts, so I had to go back and manually parse data from each blog. When I started with the code-y things, I had hoped to avoid doing the manual data collection all together and to build something that would update itself once a week. And while I did have some fun messing around with the WordPress API and watching a friend squirm while explaining the concept of libraries (you are so cute when you squirm, boo) I have to tell you that its author(s) will never, ever, ever be on the list of my potential boyfriends because that shit is cray.
I may be just as cray as the WordPress API, btw, because I still have dreams of pulling data from our blogging platforms and from Twitter to visualize the activity on #52weeks all in one go. I’d love to parse out our collective data from everyone else using the tag, too, and to compare it all for shits and giggles to see what we can come up with.
That being said, let’s take a little foray into the data, shall we? Because there’s nothing like a little bit of number crunching and visualization to help quantify progress towards a goal that is all at once individual and shared.
First off, let’s take a look at the number. Here is a graph showing the average number of posts made per week since the beginning of the challenge. Given that we have 7 people participating in the challenge (Satnam, my data for you is incomplete boo, drop me your Tumblr pls!), and that we should each be posting once a week, we should as a group average 7 posts a week.
As you can see from the numbers, that’s not what is happening; we tend to hover around 3 or 4 posts a week, with our highest week containing 12 . As a group, we collectively write 0.66 posts per person per week, and we’ve collectively written 81 posts since the first week of the project though many of those posts are from a core group of prolific writers who average more than one posts a week. Much like those pesky MOOCs out there (those Massive Open Online Courses), though, our own homegrown little MOOC (Miniature Open Online Challenge) is suffering from a little bit of a retention problem, too, as we have some writers who have fallen off to the side. And even though there are some things that skew our data a bit– we track weeks a little differently, for example- the numbers don’t lie too much, though they may be incomplete: our challenge isn’t quite sticking.
There is silver lining to be had, though: another dip into our data shows that over half of our group is making solid progress towards our goal.
Four months in, we’re not quite where we should be, but as a group we are getting somewhere. Much of the responsibility for our success (and failure) is my own: as the thinker-upper of this idea, its execution rests squarely on my shoulders. Over the past few months, however, I have been dealing with some serious, real-life business that has prevented me from being able to focus on what we’re up to in our little corner of the web.
That being said, things have finally calmed down some, so if you’re writing for us or with us or if you want to join us (aren’t we a festive bunch?), keep an eye out for a few new challenge-related things to pop up on the radar as we count our way down from 52 posts in a year.
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