Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mixing numbers games and word people

Numbers often seem like a foreign language to word people. I’ve been trying to get my head around lots of them in recent weeks. Click-through numbers. Bounce rates. The only one that really resonates with me is the time that people spend visiting this blog—that’s the time they’re looking at the words.

And yet the goal of this crazy Blog Your Way Around the World endeavor is sheer numbers. I need more votes than any other entrant in order to get the chance to take those eight (there’s a number I understand) adventure trips and to write about them.

That’s where the word person–numbers compatibility challenge comes in. Word people, specifically writers, tend to be introverts. The number one makes the most sense to us. Crowd in a bunch of other numbers and we can get confused, claustrophobic, even uncomfortable.

It reminds me of the year my nephew was in the seventh grade—and having to deal with algebra. The mix of numbers and letters just seemed unnatural to him. Numbers were supposed to hang out with numbers and an assortment of symbols to build equations. Letters were supposed to hang out separately and build words. Tossing them together in an algebraic salad was just wrong.

My mind is currently unsettled in much the same way.

I am faced with composing a social networking version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” coming up with the right combination of numbers, activities, and supportive participants. “Eight great adventures … five fabulous continents … two thousand voters … and one winning essay entry.”

That vote number, though, that’s the unknown. Which brings us back to that whole algebra thing. Solve for X. And there’s no knowing the value needed for X, because there are a fair number of other writers doing just what I’m doing and trying to get that magic amount to win the contest themselves.

Solving for X and building up those votes is harder than it looks, especially because it involves working and acting like an Xtrovert.

Let’s just take it one letter—uh, number—at a time.

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