If you write online, you eventually get lured into looking at the stats for your posts. I very occasionally post or repost things to another popular site, Medium. I get updates on my stats from there and the repost I put there that is always at the top of the list is “The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything Is 137. Maybe.”
The post originally appeared on this site in 2019 and has garnered a nice number of reads. But not 2700+ readers.
How are people finding the version of it on Medium? The site tells me (in order of popularity) that people find it via google.com (almost 2K from there), email, IM, and direct links, twitter.com, facebook.com, duckduckgo.com, bing.com, and a few from other places such as startpage.com and search.brave.com. One that intrigues me is that 5 readers found it at elearning.wmich.edu. I can’t check that site because it is the login page for online courses at Western Michigan University, but I suspect that some professor has put it on a reading list. That’s nice.
The post is a compilation of a bunch of things I found online around the scientific and mystical occurrences of the number 137. I draw no conclusions about it other than the notion that it seems to be significant in so many areas that maybe it is the answer to life. I started the post by saying in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he wrote that “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” Unfortunately, though this was found to be the answer, they did not know the question. He was joking, but I wondered if the answer might be 137. I suppose I did reach a conclusion with another question: Is there a primal number at the root of the universe that everything in the world hinges on?
I don’t really edit those versions on Medium, but I do go back and edit and correct older posts here. One thing I noticed in looking at my top 5 Medium posts is their titles. Titles attract readers. That most popular post on Medium was retitled from “The Answer Is 137” as it appeared here, to the longer and perhaps more interesting “The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything Is 137. Maybe.” (I slightly changed the 2019 post’s title here.)
Look at a few of the other posts that got attention on Medium:
“Feeding Kittens to Boa Constrictors” Yes, my title is shocking. It’s an attention-getter, but I didn’t use it as click bait and I didn’t make it up. It was the working title of a book by psychology professor Hal Herzog. His publisher wasn’t a fan of that title and the book was published as Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals.
There is also “The Reverse Turing Test for Artificial Intelligence” in that top 5 and I suspect that the AI and mention of Turing in the title attracted readers. That post originally appeared on my education and technology blog Serendipity35, but since it has some traction, I updated it and reposted it here. I usually change titles a bit when I crosspost things just so I can tell in search results that it was from another website.
Another post from here that is popular on Medium is “Did Philip K. Dick Meet God?” The short answer is yes. Maybe.
Those Medium stats also show that some posts get no attention. My little 2016 post about some films I recommended for your own “On the Road Film Festival” has zero reads as of yesterday on Medium. (Give the link a click and show it some love – or you can read it on this site.) This post is about some on-the-road films I was thinking about as I prepared for a few road trips. It got a decent number of readers here from some loyal readers who follow my Paradelle essays but it didn’t attract anyone on medium. I wonder why. The title?