Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Love's Labor Logged

February is an auspicious month to reflect on the process and status of the ongoing documentary project in honor of Frances and John Reedy.  We first ventured forth on this production journey on August 20, 2009 right before our Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship at Berea College commenced.  Throughout our fall fellowship, we kept a detailed log of our activities and time spent, and at the end of that commitment we had logged 243 total hours of research, digitization, and documentation.

After the fellowship ended, we decided it made sense to continue logging our labor hours spent on the various ongoing production components of the documentary.  From January 10, 2010 until the current moment (February 22, 2011), we have logged 390 additional hours for a total of 633!

We also began exploring online tools to collect and view data and help us understand the reach and impact of our blog and its multi-media content.  On February 1, 2010, I installed Google Analytics on our blog so that we could document and access statistics about our audience (e.g., where you're from, what pages you visit, how long you stay, and you got here, etc.).  I also installed some other relevant tools, such as Feedburner and Webmaster Tools, that offer slightly different or more detailed usage information and/or distribution resources.  About a month later, we posted a report on our statistical findings up to that point.

It’s fascinating what we’ve since learned about how the blog is accessed, the broad geography of our audience, and various tendrils of research that continue to spread and connect.  We have also been pleasantly surprised by the unique interactions that have occurred as a result of our overall online presence and process.  So we again acknowledge our small but growing and ever-eclectic audience and friends who remind us that the work that we’re doing is important not only to us but people all over the world!

Since we first began documenting our site's usage about a year ago, Analytics has recorded 1776 visits from 1226 individual visitors from 45 countries (including the U.S.):

1. United States
2. United Kingdom
3. Canada
4. Germany
5. France
6. Netherlands
7. Australia
8. Sweden
9. Brazil
10. Italy
11. Egypt
12. Russia
13. Belgium
14. Indonesia
15. New Zealand
16. Spain
17. Philippines
18. Austria
19. Ireland
20. Argentina
21. Mexico
22. India
23. Japan
24. Denmark
25. Ukraine
26. Poland
27. South Korea
28. Romania
29. Jamaica
30. Barbados
31. Czech Republic
32. Slovakia
33. Finland
34. Israel
35. Lithuania
36. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
37. Algeria
38. Bolivia
39. Albania
40. Puerto Rico
41. Serbia
42. Kenya
43. Norway
44. Greece
45. South Africa

...and 49 states and U.S. Territories!

1. Kentucky
2. Ohio
3. California
4. Maryland
5. Texas
6. New York
7. North Carolina
8. Virginia
9. Tennessee
10. Georgia
11. Florida
12. Illinois
13. Wisconsin
14. Michigan
15. New Jersey
16. Missouri
17. Pennsylvania
18. Minnesota
19. Indiana
20. Arizona
21. Massachusetts
22. Washington
23. South Carolina
24. District of Columbia
25. Oklahoma
26. West Virginia
27. Colorado
28. Arkansas
29. Maine
30. Oregon
31. Utah
32. Connecticut
33. Mississippi
34. Alabama
35. Louisiana
36. Iowa
37. Rhode Island
38. Vermont
39. New Mexico
40. Kansas
41. Delaware
42. New Hampshire
43. Hawaii
44. Nevada
45. (not set)
46. Montana
47. South Dakota
48. Alaska
49. Wyoming

Since May 2010, Blogger now includes its own rudimentary view of some basic usage statistics.  It’s been convenient to have an instant snapshot of stats and interesting to compare the data that is collected by Blogger and by Analytics.  Both are Google products, as are Feedburner and Webmaster, but apparently there are some subtle differences in how and what they gather and display.  I definitely appreciate the quick view of Blogger Stats rather than twiddle my thumbs while Analytics loads on a dial-up connection.

Blogger Stats and Analytics both show basic search terms when people find us through a search engine.  Quite a few folks have accessed the site by directly searching the blog title, Frances and John's full name, the Stone Mountain Hillbillies, and "Somebody Touched Me."  We continue to attract visitors who are searching other artists whose work is included on our discographies of the Reedy’s personal record collection. * 

One recent and significant connection was a comment posted by Leon Turner, one of the artists included on the discography!  He "recorded Thats the reason Jan. 1962 at King Records studios in Cincinnati, Ohio it was produced by Bobby Bare, I was not aware it was ever released on the king label..."  I emailed him in response, and he replied and added, "if my memory serves me right I think I engineered some recordings on the Reedys, I did all recordings for Jack Lynch label for a year and a half."  We're so excited to make another unexpected and fruitful discovery.  Thanks to Mr. Turner for reaching out to us!

Both Blogger Stats and Analytics also collect and display referring sites, or URL’s of sites from which visitors accessed a link to our project blog.  We still have a steady presence of regional and genre vinyl aficionados via 45rpmrecords.com, The Ohio Valley Sound, and Dead Wax.  We've received regular traffic from the Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship page on the Berea College website as well as a few visits from fellow fellows' sites (Anna Gevalt and Marianne Worthington).  We have also recently received a boost in overall visits from a new link on Mellow's Log Cabin: Country Music, Rockabilly & Hillbilly. 

One of the most surprising and unexpected spikes in visits resulted from a random reply I made to a post on an oral history list-serve that I belong to.  It's amusingly obvious on the graph of overall visits documented on Analytics for the past year:

The Analytics graphing feature includes the option of adding notations (the little callout boxes at the bottom of the above figure) so we can document when we make new posts or send out email campaigns and keep track of resulting visits.

Another awesome aspect of the overall blog is being able to post photos, videos, and audio related to the project and view information about their usage as well.  YouTube includes an Insight feature that uses similar timeline graphs to show total views of individual videos.  "Holidays with Frances" was originally uploaded on February 19, 2007, and we posted it to our inaugural blog post on August 20, 2009.  It has received a total of 254 views since it was uploaded, and 102 of those were after we started the blog.

Our "Fellowship Presentation: Frances Reedy Oral History" video was uploaded on January 6 and posted to the blog on January 9, 2010, and it has received total 211 views.  "Little Sparrow," the most recent Reedy video we uploaded on October 8 and posted on October 9, 2010, has been viewed 93 times.  Other videos related to the Reedy documentary have garnered interest and viewers as well: "Harry Rice Oral History" (uploaded12/9/09: 77 views); "David Lundy Oral History" (uploaded 5/11/10: 177 views); and "Lundy Recording Studio" (uploaded 5/11/10: 428 views).  According to Analytics, the tour of the recording studio has generated a lot of visits through search engines from people who looking for Lundy Studio specifically. 

Until recently, we received more comments posted directly to the videos rather than on our blog posts.  Some of this encouraging feedback has been from friends who support our work.  In response to "Holidays with Frances," comments included "This was very beautifully made" and "... I like the music. ... Great tribute vid."

Some serendipitous superlatives have surfaced from strangers as well.  For example, in response to the Frances Reedy Oral History, someone said, "I ran across this video and was so glad to have found it. I remember the Reedy family as a young girl living in a little community called Dayhoit, Kentucky about five miles out of Harlan, I remember the radio program and listening to their music.  This was wonderful to view this video. Wonderful memories of The Reedys."  Another person commented on the "Little Sparrow" video: "This is wonderful. Thank you so much for posting & sharing with everyone."

I also received a brief message through my YouTube account from another user who said, "I enjoyed the videos ... Thank you so much for the videos of Aunt Frances ... awesome job!"  I don't know who this person is, but it seems like this might be an actual relative.  We still hope to find this person as well as other folks to talk to about the Reedys and our project, so keep letting us know what you think and how to get in touch with you if you have more information to offer.

In the past year or so, we finally started receiving some actual comments on the blog.  Some of these well-wishers were local people we hang out with at the annual Clear Creek Festival. "Congrats on your grant!" and "I will have to wait for my next trip to the coffee shop to hear the Lundy Recording piece. Best regards to you both!"

Other comments have been posted by folks in direct response to particular aspects of the project.  For example, when we posted the news that we found an additional stash of vinyl recordings last summer, someone commented "I like this post, thanks."  Through a similar comment, "You have a nice blog. I added you to my blog list. Regards," we established a new cyber-relationship with Mellow and his log cabin that has resulted in regular vinyl-loving visitors.

Clearly, we continue to connect with interesting folks along the way, but we would still love to know more about the rest of you who seek us out or stumble upon our work.  We always welcome comments on our posts as well as more direct contact if we can share important information with one another.  Also, you can receive immediate updates when we post new material by signing up for email subscription feature and/or by "following" through an existing Google account.  And feel free to spread the word by forwarding updates and/or posting our news headline feature on your site.

We love surprises along the way, and we also value our ability to document the time we spend working on different aspects of the project.  Sometimes our time and resources are limited and intermittent, but we still work diligently and passionately on this labor of love.  We are grateful for the many amazing connections we've made and lessons we've learned as a result of this work.  The invitation still stands, for those we've communicated with and those of you who silent supporters, for keeping up-to-date and in touch as we remain reminiscent and remember the Reedys.

* Note: There are multiple versions and updates of two different discographies on the blog.  One discography lists all recordings (commercial and non-commercial) by Frances and John Reedy.  The other discography is a list of vinyl recordings by other artists collected by Frances.  We hope to repost comprehensive discographies as a updatable blog pages in the near future; but in the meantime, the most current and complete discography posts are:

  1. Reedy Discography (V.2)
  2. Discography of Personal Collection (V.2)
  3. Addendum to Discography of Personal Collection

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