Reflections on Year One of The Pauling Blog


Today marks the first anniversary of The Pauling Blog, and in celebration we’re announcing a new addition to our blogroll, archivematica.

Over the past few months, The Pauling Blog has featured a number of posts on our digitization projects which have, in turn, garnered a fairly-substantial amount of reader interest. While we will continue to post about our work here, we would also like to offer our readers access to other information about digitization efforts around the web. Hence archivematica, a blog about Peter Van Garderen and his work as a digital archive designer and analyst.

Peter is the president and senior consultant of Artefactual Systems, Inc. and a doctoral candidate in archival science at the University of Amsterdam. Peter’s doctoral work is concerned with digital archives in both a practical and social context, focusing on issues of public access and cross-archival collaboration. In his spare time, Peter uses archivematica to blog about developments in the world of archives, his Artefactual-related projects, and his scholastic research. For a topical and literate look into the mind of a professional archivist, we highly recommend a visit to archivematica.

Additional information about Peter Van Garderen’s work, thesis, and the Artefactual team can be found here.

This is the 112th post that we’ve generated in our year of blogging and at the time of this writing, the project has attracted a hair over 13,000 views.  More importantly, readership is increasing steadily – despite it’s being the shortest of the twelve, February was, by far, our highest-trafficked month to date at just over seventy views per day.  Numbers like these do not a blog empire make, but we’re heartened by the feedback that we’ve been receiving and are glad to likewise note that older posts are being found in equal measure to newer content.

Here is a look at the top ten most-viewed posts of this past year.

  1. Roger Hayward (1899-1979): Architect, Artist, Illustrator, Inventor, Scientist [published 4-22-08; 2,287 views]
  2. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle [5-29-08; 408]
  3. Featured Document: Linus Pauling’s Birth Certificate [3-31-08; 231]
  4. Roger Hayward and Linus Pauling [5-1-08; 190]
  5. Creating the Pauling Catalogue: Formatting Text with XML and XSL [8-12-08; 189]
  6. Linus Pauling and the Birth of Quantum Mechanics [5-20-08; 187]
  7. Cancer and Vitamin C Redux [9-30-08; 180]
  8. The Martha Chase Effect [1-2-09; 174]
  9. The Paternal Ancestry of Linus Pauling [9-23-08; 168]
  10. Scenes from the Linus Pauling Legacy Award [5-6-08; 168]

Pretty clearly we’ve tapped into the “Martha Chase Effect” with our series on Roger Hayward, which shows up in two spots on the front page of the Google results for the “Roger Hayward” simple search…though this being the Internet, it surely does not hurt that this image is among the many used to illustrate the super-popular “Architect, Artist, Illustrator…” post.

Thinking back on these past twelve months, the main theme that strikes us about our project is just how much work it really requires.  Five people have written posts for the site, and in any given week two students and one faculty member devote upwards of 30 hours to generating ideas for the blog, researching them and writing them up.

But we feel that it’s worth the effort.  The Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections is a little bit unusual relative to many of our colleagues in that virtually every project in which we engage has some sort of web element attached to it as an ultimate goal.  A major component of this directive is the (also unusual) fact that one of our three full-time staffmembers is an I.T. consultant.  In short, we are very Internet-centric in our mission and our workflows.

This being the case, The Pauling Blog gives us an opportunity to feature smaller components of certain very large projects and also to talk about some of the methods that have been developed to help smooth the marriage between traditional archival practice and the world wide web.  As such, our readers can expect to see more of the same throughout the coming year – two posts per week on topics related to Linus Pauling or bits of news from within the department, a few fairly techical write-ups and the occasional post done just for the fun of it.  Thanks for reading!

2008: The Year in Pauling

Linus Pauling at his Deer Flat Ranch home, near Big Sur, California. 1987.

Linus Pauling at his Deer Flat Ranch home, near Big Sur, California. 1987.

Notable Projects and Events

This has been a terrifically-productive year for the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections:

Behind the Numbers

The various websites that we have launched over the years continue to attract a fairly large volume of traffic.   Over the past twelve months, our web domain has been the focus of 11.93 million pageviews. (A pageview being officially defined as “A request to the web server by a visitor’s browser for any web page; this excludes images, javascript, and other generally embedded file types.”)  This total is a marked decrease from the 2007 measurement of 14.7 million pageviews.  However, our new releases this year were more of a niche variety, whereas 2007 marked the launch of “Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement: A Documentary History,” as well as two additional new years of Day-by-Day content.  The difference in these types of projects help explain the downturn.

The largest source of 2008 traffic (4.48 million pageviews) is an oldie but a goody – Linus Pauling Research Notebooks.   Originally released in 2002 and consisting of well-over 15,000 html files, this cross-indexed digital version of Pauling’s 46 research notebooks has, by our count, generated roughly 39.5 million pageviews over the course of its existence.  The research notebooks site is also the only one of our many Pauling-centric projects to bubble up into the top 10 of Google’s results for the simple Linus Pauling keyword search. (not that we’re complaining, of course…)

Second in popularity is, per usual, the mammoth Linus Pauling Day-by-Day project (3.71 million), which currently provides a daily accounting of Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s activities for the years 1930-1954.

Our four Documentary History websites jockey back and forth for third through sixth places.  Having received a big update in February, the Bond site is a clear favorite right now, though Blood will probably move up as well, having also been recently revised.  Here’s a look at how the numbers are shaking out for the major projects under the specialcollections/coll/pauling domain.


Check back on Friday for a few thoughts on search and a peek at 2009.