The evolution of “staying in touch”

Dec. 1

What it means to communicate has changed in the two decades since I first travelled.

Way back in 1992, backpacking through Europe after high school, email was an obscure electronic tool for the geekiest of computer geeks. I was in contact with my parents, infrequently, by long distance phone call, and I sent postcards. Every morning that autumn, my friend and I sought the USA Today in newsstands to find the latest on the Toronto Blue Jays’ World Series run.

By 1997, when I was again in Europe as an intern during University studies, the internet had gone mainstream. As the dial up access crackled and pinged in Bratislava, Slovakia, I waited eagerly for news from home. But I did this from a desktop computer in my office.

Ten years later, in 2007, much had changed again. I had my cool new Blackberry with me as I travelled through India and could send/receive messages in real time from Rajasthan. I had a blog too, on Myspace (remember them?) and could easily file my stories from Internet cafes anywhere on the subcontinent.

In 2011, I have a newer, better blog than the one I had in India. I have been posting every day on this trip. I can access my friends much more easily, due to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m writing from the ultraslick Macbook Air that I can carry with me without serious encumbrance. If I want, I can also use Skype rather than pay long distance changes. I have a newer, better Blackberry, but am aware there are superior devices available.

So over time my travel communications have become more frequent, have provided more information, and are reaching many more people. I can only hope that the quality has increased as much as the quantity.

Here’s looking at you

Nov. 30

My blog produces some interesting stats. I can’t access the site right now, so don’t have the very latest numbers, but since I left Vancouver almost a month ago, over 700 “individuals” (that is, separate IP addresses, and not spambots) have visited my site. Daily traffic is steady at about 100.

As you would expect, most visitors are from Canada where most of my friends are. The next two biggest sources are the U.S. and China. About 70 per cent are just passing through, and leave the site within 30 seconds. The next biggest group (6 per cent) stick around for 5 to 15 minutes. Most others are somewhere in between.

Many of you link through my Facebook page. This makes sense, since FB friends know that a new article has been posted, and don’t have to keep checking. Those who are not connected to me through Facebook can “subscribe” (it is free of charge) to the RSS feed of my blog and get my posts automatically. Just click on the little orange button beside the word “Follow” at the top of

The days that have generated the most traffic are transitional ones – when I am departing or arriving. However, the day I braved Beijing roads on a bike also prompted lots of interest. Unsurprisingly, new locales and mortal peril make for good reading.

I’m sure there are things I could be doing to generate more blog traffic, and I welcome advice on search engine optimization (from real people, not spambots). It is exciting to see my readership growing. But I’m not obsessed with the technical side, and will focus on the writing. If I keep my stories true, original, and brief, and my friends keep reading them, I’ll be satisfied