Yes I finally succeeded in counting them, that is the number of clicks to get to the end of the “infinite” scrolling of my blog here at WordPress.com since in the 22 months since I started back in June 2012.
What I’m talking about here is an idea I got from WhatIf about estimating weird things. In that amusing set of thought experiments I got this idea – how long, in miles (I aimed too high, even kilometers is too much) would all the posts I’ve made be. So I started with the most obvious approach to make by guestimate of this utterly silly value.
I can’t believe I did this, actually clicking 1317 times (lots of counting and hash marks to record intermediate progress). At first I thought I’d just extrapolate from a limited sample:
- 290 clicks, back to 4/19/2013 (had to quit when I first tried this, so 290 is now a unit)
- another 290 clicks, back to 1/26/2013
- another 290 clicks, back to 9/14/2012
I got tired of doing 10 clicks and then a hash mark, so figuring I had enough data to make a pretty good SWAG I speeded up and did another 417 clicks to reach all the way back.
I’d previously measured how many vertical inches a single click (page down on scroll bar) moves on one of my monitors (no idea what it’s DPI is) but it’s almost exactly 9.5″. So that’s how I get my number, 9.5″ x 1317 clicks (give or take a few) and so 1042 feet, or just under 1/5th of a mile.
Now my experiment was done in two parts. I made some progress two days ago and then had to suspend this. Now, tonight with a little free time, I came back to it. But two days ago I realized there was an easier way to make this calculation. That is, see in Chrome browser can cache all my posts and then print them into a PDF. Yes it can (gets sluggish near the end as I try to scroll to the earliest post). And that result is 862 pages in the PDF, 8.5×11 pages, which we’ll assume Adobe did a better job of creating “pages” that more closely represent this blog as printed instead of a bunch of scrolling clicks at monitor resolution. So that comes out to to only 790 feet, or only 76% of the estimate of length on a very huge monitor. IOW, a fairly large discrepancy that is hard to pin down any more accurately. So this is probably the end of this road.
Now either method of estimating isn’t really measuring how much I wrote (and given there are a fair number of images, the estimate of pages of words would be much less). And a lot of WordPress.com “glue” shows up, not just my posts. All things considered I’d say all that is nearly half. So I’ll just make a guess of only 460 feet of printed text.
Two other numbers I can easily extract. The PDF (which would include images, but possibly requiring less storage) required 49,312K to save on disk. OTOH, I can get a backup (a relatively wordy XML format) of just the posts that only requires 4,892K to save on disk, or about a factor of 1/10th less. Now as a rough comparison I have a copy of The Promise (Jonathan Alter) on disk is MSWord format and it requires about 3,112KB. MSWord format may be a bit denser than the XML backup format so I could safely say that words alone from my blog are about equal to a 400 page book where the pages are smaller than the 11″ of the PDF.
Now, using the XML backup as guideline, I’ve previously seen that the average word length of a large corpus of English text is about 5.5 characters per word and every word would have at least one space and there would be some punctuation and otherwise, so I’ll assume about 6.7 bytes per word and the XML is 95% my words, so I’m guessing I’ve written about 690K words. In one of the WhatIf articles an number was estimated that the average reader reads about 400 words/minute,
you’ve got around 29 hours of reading to do, so you’d better get started.