26 Mar 2015

Seven years of aguanomics

Dutch mountain hiking...
Well, it's been seven years of digestion, if you think about the millions of words I've trawled through in preparation for the 5,000+ posts on this blog. It's been enjoyable, educational and -- hopefully -- useful to the thousands of people who have stopped by at one time or another.

So, what's happened since the last update? We've returned to Amsterdam after nine months in Vancouver to find the city and its people better than we remembered. I bought a flat (on the second floor, just to be safe) and found a job as an Assistant Professor at Leiden University College (LUC). Cornelia is busy with a masters degree in Urban Planning at UvA, where they seem to take "community-directed development" a little more seriously than in North America.

Just after returning here, I worked in Saudi Arabia for a month on an energy-water project. I learned more than I wanted about "water management" there -- an experience that echoed my time in California, where "that's not possible" seems to have replaced the California Dream. Oh, and if it wasn't clear... I've decided to emigrate to the Netherlands, mostly due to their competence, intelligence and joie-de-vivre -- which is still not too joyeuse to cut short le vivre!

I published Living with Water Scarcity in April 2014 at a price of $5 (PDF) and $10. Overall sales fell short of my patience, and I lowered the PDF price to "free" for my birthday. I am pleased with that decision, as the book has been downloaded at least 20,000 times since then, far far more than I would have ever expected at $5, let alone $1. It doesn't make sense to charge money when we are living in an economy of attention.

Free didn't make me money but it extended my impact. I'm seeing more debate of the ideas I have been promoting (I am not the first, of course), more media attention, and a greater willingness for others to see my role as advocate of sane policy rather than a guy trying to shift books. I've also been able to attract help from like-minded people. "We" should be releasing the Spanish edition of Living (Vivir con la escasez del agua) in the next month or so.

Perhaps my greatest increase in impact has come with my new work as a professor at LUC. Our liberal arts faculty teaches a diverse group of about 600 students, and they are fun for debate, discussion and passion. Looks like this blog will have some good competition for my attention!

Well, well. It looks like site visits and unique user numbers are up by about 50 percent [pdf]. That's good news (more eyeballs means more impact), and I'd like to extend it. But I'm wondering why so many people are visiting from Algeria (the second largest source country after the US)? Is there some water issue of interest? I think I understand India, Brazil and Canada, but Egypt and Tunisia? Perhaps readers from these countries can (a) tell me water issues they are interested in or (b) give insights on water management that maybe I've missed. The same applies to any of you, of course: Please suggest topics that you'd like to hear more about or that you can contribute as guest bloggers. Here's my email.

I could carry on with more free-flowing thoughts, but I'll save those for future blog posts.

Bottom Line: Blogging is still an amazing way to communicate useful, pointed commentary on events and policies in the water world. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do but feel free to comment or email suggestions!

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