The Ides of March.
It was fitting that my first day writing the ZDNet Government blog was a day known for political intrigue and conspiracy, the day that Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 B.C. Government is more than just boring policies and monotonic debates. Government is the essence of the civilization we wrap around ourselves, the true social network that binds citizens to each other.
When I started writing the ZDNet Government blog on March 15, my charter was to involve ZDNet readers in all the wonderful richness, chaos, insanity, and inspiration American politics brings to our lives.
Rather than just discussing policy topics, this was to be a running civics coffeehouse, a dialog between all of us, where we could dive in, share, rant, disagree, pontificate, mock, and learn -- in essence a microcosm of the conversations and arguments all across America that make up the wonder and sausage factory that is American politics.
Since this is ZDNet Government, the tech element of the story is not only important to the discussion, but deeply relevant to our readers. Technology has embedded itself so completely in the fabric of our society that it permeates all aspects of policy from privacy to national security to even freedom of speech.
When we're talking about Google, there's almost always a privacy subtext in the discussion. When we talk about Apple, there's almost always a conflict between freedom of speech and content protection. And then there are subjects like Wikileaks, a Web site that's upsetting the status quo among nations and national security.
Since March, I've published 172 articles. Most have had some element of civics in their content. A few were merely technology-related. And some, like the Kinect gaming articles, had nothing whatsoever to do with governance, but were just fun to explore.
In this year-end post, I decided to go beyond the typical top-ten piece and look at what articles caught your attention, and -- more interestingly -- where your interest in civic issues intersected with topics that were just plain interesting.
To that end, I bring you ... charts. Don't worry, there will be a Top Ten 15 list. But first, charts.
Topics of interest
I was curious about what topics interested you most. I went through the full list of articles and roughly assigned topics. As the chart below shows, fully half of the articles were purely policy and government related.
I wrote a few articles about 2012 and World War III, a bunch about Google (mostly privacy-related), a few fun articles about the holidays (and yes, there are civics lessons there as well), a pile of articles on Wikileaks, a few irresistible articles on video games, some tech trends, and -- of course -- Apple.
Here's how the subjects broke out, based on the number of articles themselves.
The interesting question was this: what were you interested in? The following chart shows that.
Although half the articles I wrote were about politics and government, only 29% of the page views were on that topic. On the other hand, while only 19% of my articles were about Apple, you found that topic so interesting that almost a full third of our page views (more than politics and government, combined) were for the Apple-related topics.
The other topics (in terms of page views) tracked pretty well with the number of articles, although you guys seemed to have a pretty disproportionate interest in 2012 and end-of-the-world topics. I wrote only 2% of my articles on that, but 5% of the views were for doom and gloom. Interestingly enough, you also disproportionately liked the holiday topics as well, so that pretty much balances out the morbid fascination some of you seem to have with 2012.
That brought me to another question. How interested were you in civics-related content? A full 82% of the articles I wrote had some civics-related content or were completely civics-related:
Interestingly, you folks seemed to really gravitate to the articles that were tangentially civics-related or not civics-related at all. As the chart above shows, the "Yes" articles, those totally on topic for government and politics got a substantially reduced percentage of reads compared to the articles that were either slightly related or just plain interesting.
My next question was how interested were you in topics of vital national importance, like net neutrality, the choice of a Supreme Court justice, and the National Broadband Plan? This was the chart I found particularly interesting:
Notice that you almost perfectly track with interest on the high importance topics. So, topics that are of significant national importance are topics you care about as well.
On the other hand, when it comes to topics of medium national importance, like counterfeit check security or the census, you weren't nearly as interested as compared to the number of articles we published.
Instead, you were way more interested in the articles that were good reads, but not necessarily of civic importance, like articles about Google, Apple, video games, and social networking.
The Top 15 list
Overall, I'm pretty happy with your interest level. It's nice to see our IT professionals engaged in topics of major importance. It's also fun to be able to interact with you on interesting tech topics, whether they're deeply civics-related or not.
That said, let's take a look at the Top 15. I chose the Top 15, because it shows your Apple fascination. Apple took 8 of the top 15 slots, #15, #13, #12, #11, #10, #9, #8, and #6. Clearly, you're interested in Apple-related topics.
Wikileaks took two more of the Top 15 slots, #14 and #1.
Here's the full list:
- Analysis: Is Wikileaks' Assange actually a terrorist?
- 11 completely crazy, totally twisted, deeply disturbing, over-the-top holiday hacks
- Is China gearing up to start World War III?
- Homeland Security blocks Web sites with 'controversial opinions'
- 8 reasons you might NOT want to buy a Kinect
- Is buying an iPad un-American?
- Ten countries fire warning shot at Google
- Apple is not your mother
- How a mediocre iPad knock-off could foretell Steve Jobs' eventual doom
- Poor Apple can't seem to catch a break
- Five lessons Apple can learn from Amazon
- When it comes to selling iPads, Apple is truly anti-American (and anti-disadvantaged)
- Should Steve Jobs "man up" and kill the iPhone 4?
- Special Report: Could Wikileaks cause World War III or the end of the world?
- Open letter to Steve Jobs: Retire now!
So there you have it: the civics study room and tech coffeehouse we call ZDNet Government. Have a great New Years and a great new year!