Thanksgiving 2013

TL;DR: tradition you don’t know about, y’all rock, mic drop.

Happy Thanksgiving American friends! Happy Unbirthday non-American friends!

So, I’ve got this little tradition of giving you a quick behind the scenes peek at life behind the Face of the Matter, and what a better time to do it than on Thanksgiving. Here’s the story from last year:

Years ago, there was a public health blog, Effect Measure, that had a nice little Thanksgiving tradition. On Thanksgiving, the author would give an update on the blog and thank the many people who he interacted with over the previous year. The story was that the (pseudononymous) author, while waiting for his wife to finish Thanksgiving dinner, started a blog on a whim. The result was wildly successful. I consider that the very first public health blog (without minimizing the amazing contributions of Jordan Barab’s Confined Space blog, which technically started first). The author’s gusto and pseudonymity gave me the courage to blog.

And here we are, nearly SEVEN years later. Am I officially Internet-old now? I keep looking for my Logan’s Run jewel, but nothing yet. I thought last year was great, but this year has been a humdinger. And isn’t that how things are supposed to go?

I got the opportunity to travel and present to amazing audiences all over the country. Meet dozens of amazing people and see friends from too long ago. No pandemic still (yay!), and my Program has great plans for the future. The blog is wildly successful, better than I ever thought it would be. And probably the biggest news is that kid #3 is rapidly winging her way into my burgeoning family’s arms (February 2nd!).

But the news that’s probably most relevant to you, dear reader, is my new job. I’ve been given the okay to let the world know that, as of January 1, I will be moving out of the public health preparedness world and into a brand new position, Director of Digital Public Health, here at my health department.

My job will be to oversee the identification, feasibility, implementation and integration of digital goodness (everything from social media to apps, to APIs to crowdsourcing to mobile and beyond) into our department. I! Am! So! Excited!

With every grand, new endeavor comes change, unfortunately, and the blog is one of those things that will change. (Seriously, new kid AND a new job? I’ll probably sell my soul for a few hours of sleep.) I’m not abandoning it. I love you guys too, too much. But I’m going to be dialing things back a bit. No more three posts a week, at least not for a while. Instead, if I can do a post a week, I’ll be over the moon. Because social media and public information and risk communication is still within my professional purview, we’ll keep talking about them, but we might sprinkle in some of that digital goodness I talked about earlier, too.

Until the new year, though, I wanted to give you a present, something to remember me by. For the next four weeks, I’m going into the stacks of the blog and will be reposting the best posts, the most popular, the ones that–oops–I got wrong, my personal favorites. Three of the best of Jim Garrow, for four weeks. Almost like a countdown.

Which, not exactly coincidentally, is the other tradition we have around these parts. For the last couple of years, Patrice Cloutier, Kim Stephens and I have done a sort of end-of-year holiday countdown. This will be my contribution, and will hopefully serve to demonstrate how far our field of emergency communications and response have come. I’ll definitely be highlighting their work constantly on Twitter, so keep an eye out for that.

And now for the behind the scenes. My traffic this year has been out of this world. I set a new personal daily record, and broke it (302 views). I set new records in weekly and monthly views (3,013 views). I’ve got the most subscribers I’ve ever had (110). Last year, I reported that I’d seen 16,000 views all time, and in just this calendar year, I’ve seen more than 20,600, more than doubling my previous three years of views.


Other than longevity, only two things changed this year. First, I’ve presented more, and I direct folks to my page in most of my presentations. But unless I’m the best, most persuasive presenter in the world (hey, it’s possible), that’s doesn’t nearly account for the huge surge in viewership starting in April. What did happen in April was the other thing that changed: I started posting more often. Usually three times a week, sometimes four. Consistently, for weeks on end. And my traffic skyrocketed. For the non-astute among you, there’s a lesson there, I think.

And just to close, I want to thank you all. For everything. You make my work enjoyable, you make me happy. I’m so excited to start on this new adventure with you and hope that you’ll stick around while I get my feet under me. (And wish me luck!)

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