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By the Numbers #8

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Commentary on some of the interesting numbers in the news


(Photo credit: Flickr/morebyless under CC-BY 2.0)


August 25, 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of Linus Torvalds’ first public announcement of the Linux operating system. It began

“I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu).”

Over time, his ‘just a hobby’ came to dominate the computing world. Linux is the default operating system for most servers, is found in billions of Android phones, and according to the 2016 Stack Overflow developers survey is the OS of choice for 21.7% of developers.


In celebration of the operating systems’ birthday, here are some of my favorite tidbits about its creator, Linus Torvalds:
– Straight from the source, here’s the pronunciation guide for the name ’Linus’.
– Torvalds’ entire TED interview provides some enlightening glimpses into his personality and method of thinking, but I particularly enjoyed his commentary about Tesla and Edison towards the end. (Spoiler: he relates more to Edison.)
– Perhaps my favorite is this exchange from a 1994 interview with Linux Journal:

Linux Journal: Do you see yourself earning a living from your work in Linux in future?
Torvalds: Well, I do hope and expect to be able to find a job much more easily due to Linux, so yes, indirectly at least I hope to be able to make a living off this, even though the work itself might be completely unrelated. As to whether it would actually concern Linux itself in some way, I don’t know.


Mother Jones published some financial results from their investigative story about American prisons. According to the company, more than 1 million people read the article, yet the banner ads on the piece brought in roughly $5,000 in ad revenue. Based on those figures, that equates to ad revenue of about one half of one cent per reader.

Given that the article cost an estimated $350,000 to publish, this means that if Mother Jones were financed by banner ad revenue alone it would need 70,000,000 readers in order to breakeven on the article. According to Census estimates, the three most populous U.S. states in 2015 were California, Texas, and Florida. If every adult in each of these states read the article, it would still not result in enough banner ad revenue for Mother Jones to break even at its current ad rate.

The math here indicates that revenue from ad impressions and CPC is not substantive enough on its own to finance meaningful journalistic operations.


James shared some exciting news about the upcoming ThingMonk conference lineup. Barring any last-minute scheduling adjustments, the conference is set to have a 50-50 parity in male-female presenters on stage (including yours truly!) The RedMonk team is happy to support diversity in both its presenters and attendees; if you’re interested in applying for a diversity scholarship to attend the conference, there are still a few available.

We’re really excited about how the conference is coming together and invite you to come check us out. The event will be held in London on September 12-14, 2016 – we hope to see you there!

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