Water under the bridge
I have been writing this column in one version or another since 1994 for a variety of long-suffering publishers. The version published in the newspaper these days is about 550 words long, satisfying the requirements of the printed newspaper.
To produce this version, I begin with a rough draft that typically is about 1,000 words long, then edit it meticulously to reach the desired length. In the summer of 2016, I decided to enter the 21st century and archive these longer versions on a blog.
As a result, I have been able to archive the long version of the most recent 122 columns at the website firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bridgeville Area Historical Society also began to archive them on their website at about the same time; you can find them under the pull-down menu, “Water Under the Bridge.”
In addition to publishing the edited versions weekly in the printed edition of the Signal-Item, Trib Total Media occasionally includes them on their digital page, “Trib-Live” in the “Local/Carnegie-Bridgeville” section. These columns are also archived; searching for “Oyler” turned up old columns as far back as 2015.
An added bonus to the “mywutb” blog site is the information on viewers of various columns. To date, there have been 4,230 page views, about five per day and 35 per column. The frequency of viewing, of course, continues to increase as more columns are added. The most views in one day was 52 on Jan. 5 this year. This January has also seen the most page views – 358.
The site also records the source of the viewers. Sixty-four percent of the views are folks in the United States – about 2,700. Then comes Germany and Poland at 6-percent apiece, followed by France, “Unknown Region,” Ukraine, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Netherlands. Today, for example, there were 13 views from India and 10 from Bangladesh. What suddenly generated interest in that part of the world?
The blog also records statistics for each column. The current all-time leader is a column I wrote in the spring of 2017 about the Pitt Civil Engineering Senior Design program. Its popularity comes from the fact that it is referenced on the department website.
Second is “The McLaughlin’s and Saw Mill Run Railroad” with 54 views. Since “The Pittsburgh and Castle Shannon Railroad” is the fifth most popular, with 30 views. I suspect that there is a small clique of rail-fans in the audience.
A column I wrote on the demise of the “Bridgeville Area News” newspaper came in third. Along with “The C. P. Mayer Brick Company” (4), “Catfish” (8), and “The Flannery Brothers” (10), it is an encouraging endorsement of our interest in local (Chartiers Valley) history.
Despite the thousands of page views, there has only been one comment posted on the blogsite. It was in response to a column on “Upper St. Clair History” that I wrote last summer. The author was a great-granddaughter of Joseph Lutz, looking for information on the Lutz family. A dialogue between her and the Historical Society has been initiated on this subject.
So far, my involvement with the blog has been very positive. It is an excellent place for me to store old columns and a great source of amusement following the statistics on viewership.
John F. Oyler is a contributing writer. You can reach him at 412-343-1652 or email@example.com. Read more from him at mywutb.blogspot.com.