Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why Blog?

I realized this morning that I have been writing this blog for 8 years. That went quickly! It started as a place to randomly rant, then morphed into a think pad for two cookbooks (The Lost Art of Real Cooking and The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home.) All the material that went in those was taken down of course. I'm not sure what it is now, but there are still some things about blogging that perplex me.

First I wonder how and why most of the traffic gets to me. Is it completely random? If you google beef bungs, my image comes up first. A dubious distinction, I know! I also just noticed it's listed in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. (OK Andy Smith is a friend). Then I spotted it being discussed recently in this article I was reading: http://www.historicalcookingproject.com/2014/04/regarding-state-of-scholarly-food.html

There's really no reason for me to write any more, apart from fun. I've never put ads on it or monetized it. Sometimes I direct traffic here via facebook, but I'm wondering why, if I could just post directly to face book? The part that baffles me though, is people almost never leave comments, which is fine. But there is actually a ton of traffic. About 200-300 hits every day. And then last Monday, for reasons I can't explain, 600 people stopped by, even though I was away and posted nothing. Most visitors come via google.

Maybe I should be doing something more with this?? If you have an opinion one way or another, please do let me know. I get no feedback here. Should it be more scholarly? Should I focus on historic cooking? It does seem a bit scattered now. I literally write whatever pops into my head, as the last post bears witness. Any and all opinions are welcome.

24 comments:

tanguy said...

I am a late 30's web developer and I love to cook and studied classical civilizations in college so a friend of mine bought me the great courses lecture of yours. It was the most informative and interesting thing i've heard in a very long time. You are an amazing mind with well informed and thoughtful opinions and insights. I added your blog to my RSS reader in hopes of reading, well pretty much you had to say. In the blog i think you had me at a statement about the fish sauce in a recent post that i believe you removed. I would love to hear about new findings and different food related opinions that you have as i often quote you in conversation :) So keep it up!

Melissa said...

Ken, you can actually add a widget (check out sitemeter.com) that will help track where and why people are coming to your blog. I kept one for a period of time and it was interesting to see what people had actually put into Google or other search engines to end up on my page. I've actually kept my blog up just because of that... knowing that it helped some folks along the way.

Ken Albala said...

Tanguy, THANK YOU! You made my day.

Ken Albala said...

Melissa, HI. Blogspot does already track all this stuff, which is why I know numbers, sources, etc. It's the bigger question I'm looking for, what do people want to see here?

Morgaine the 8 said...

I use the Facebook group for discussions and I use your blog for reference. It is organized in your blog whereas it is not on the Facebook group. :)

Morgaine the 8 said...

Oh, for actual feedback. I love it all. I experiment based on your stuff, a lot.

Cynthia Bertelsen said...

This, Ken, is the joy of blogging. It beats talking to the wall.

I've branched out to Tumblr and Medium, both of which don't require me to always feel like I must expound to the depths of a topic.

Cynthia Bertelsen said...

This, Ken, is the joy of blogging. It beats talking to the wall.

I've branched out to Tumblr and Medium, both of which don't require me to always feel like I must expound to the depths of a topic.

Maggie Natasha Johnson said...

I'm in it for the photos of things written on your hands...and hoping you will wear some cute outfits and pose more with food! I want to hear more about food history and experiments you create!!!

Ken Albala said...

Hey Maggie, XXXOOOO K

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Mark Essig said...

I read your book _Eating Right in the Renaissance_ for a project of my own (a history of pigs), liked it, googled you, found your blog, and added it to my RSS feed, where it has remained. It's smart and funny and weird, as all good things should be. I haven't commented previously because I never had much to say beyond "ha!" or "who knew ruddy ducks would be so difficult to pluck?" or "I guess I needn't be so intimidated by curing salt." To which I'll add only my thanks, and my hope that you'll continue on whatever platform you think best.

SilvanaMondo said...

Personally I think it's a lovely place to browse and be charmed by your idiosyncratic and always informative narratives on dishes I never really think of making. It would seem people who love food, love to visit your blog, given that you have so much traffic. You could make this as interactive as your FB feed if and cross purpose blog & feed. Maybe post pics of Professor in a different apron every week. :) Just saying.
Do it for your fans.

Ken Albala said...

Thanks Mark, So nice to meet you!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading here for years, but I'm a shitty conversationalist. Really old-fashioned food is an intellectual and practical passion of mine, so I regularly search for, i.e., 17th century recipes, and once upon a time you came up... I was hooked immediately.

Anonymous said...

Hi - since you asked, I'm a foodie and I enjoy reading about your various food and life experiments. I regularly visit, have done so for some time, and really don't don't know how I first stumbled upon your blog. Your writing and cooking adventures are original, witty and entertaining. interestingly, i've never cooked anything from your blog but still come back. Huh? go figure. best regards and happy cooking - Kath the Cook

Blake Singley said...

As an academic historian with an interest in cookbooks I was familiar with your work in journals before I found this blog. As a former professional chef with an abiding interest in bygone foodways your blog is always entertaining and fascinating and keeps me coming back. May I ask why the recent self-censorship?

Maria said...

I didn't realize you did anything on Facebook. Can't remember how I found your blog - looking up garum or acorn cookies or something on Google and realized that hey, this is the same person who wrote that global history of pancakes.

My main interest is in wild edibles, and historical cookery is usually a good source of inspiration, as are other people's experiments of all kinds. I've been enjoying the scatteredness, I hope you keep writing about whatever makes you excited.

The problem with Facebook posts is that you can never trust that you're seeing everything you want to see - you're subject to the whims of a profit-driven algorithm. RSS feeds are more reliable, and it's easier to save some posts for a rainy day when I'm busy.

Glenn said...

Me? Um, I'm an amateur/hobbyist medievalist with an interest in cooking, and by extension, cooking medieval things, and so forth and so on. I believe you were referenced in one of the lists I belong to. I came here, and voila! Instant inspriation to go play at the Farmer's Market, or to pull down historical books off the shelf when I'm feeling lazy.

Facebook too? Drat, I loathe that things, but people keep dragging me into it!

Ken Albala said...

THANKS for all this great feedback folks. I guess I really wanted to know if anyone was reading this and it wasn't just random google searches for things like beef bungs! Really, thanks!

Cowcountry said...

Ken, your adventures (especially the one where you were locked in the library), the food experiments and sneak peaks at your marvelous spice jars. I keep coming back to see what you are up to.

Tom Boucher said...

PLEASE keep writing--I've forwarded your URL on to others at work who ferment various things: "You've got to read this--this guy is out of his mind!" But seriously, you're not, just by turns fearless about eating the different glops you've assembled, scholarly (I can't afford your books), snarky sometimes (ovens, oh my!) and you've got a Pellegrini-like warmth for the simple pleasures. Thanks!

Mark Takaro said...

Hey Ken,

I guess I came to your blog through Samin Nosrat (http://saminnosrat.com/) and was so intrigued with the post she linked to initially that I just have to stop back by fromtime to time and see where your thoughts and musing have led you this time! It's a great combination of food and agriculture and culture and ... that you've got going--although I too miss the original that described the fish sauce--it was an excellent choice of words and it's sort of a shame it's now edited, but that's the .net for ya! Keep it up and we'll probably all keep stopping by! Mark T.

culinariaeugenius said...

I'm just in it for the beef bungs.

I continue to blog because it allows for longer formats and an online recipe file. Sure, you can post on Facebook, but it's hard to find things you've written months ago with all the noise. The blog lets you keep an archive. Or at least it does until the End Times.

Very much enjoy what you write, Ken, in any format!

Jennifer Burns Bright