Map with cities represented as blue circles whose relative sizes show numbers of virtual microscope users

Hello Hull and Phoenix!

The virtual microscope for Earth sciences has been on-line nearly 3 years, and each year around this time the number of users increases as the new university term begins. The largest number of users are still in the UK but that is slowly changing as more students around the world use the virtual microscope collections. In the term times, numbers often spike over a few hours - probably a whole class accessing together.

Over the summer the numbers of users are low but we still see the weekly cycle (most of you look at VMs in the week and take the weekend off like us). The peak days is commonly Wednesday but this week Friday was very busy. In fact the system crashed on Friday evening but righted itself automatically after a couple of hours, so sorry if you were on line and trying to find that perfect pyroxene in the lunar basalts!

The Google analytics we run on the site tell us where people are when they access (don’t think Edward Snowden is a user yet…) and we can often recognise peaks in use by UK universities like Leeds, Durham, and Bristol in England, and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes we see spikes from places we haven’t seen before and in the last four weeks there have been a couple of new ones. 45 people in Mesa in the USA were accessing the system a couple of weeks ago on a Monday. The new users were possibly Arizona State University which is very close to Mesa (Google sometimes gets a bit confused...) (dark blue spike in the figure below). The most recent peak included over 50 users in Hull (pale blue spike in the figure below) this Friday. 

Cities plot

Some of the spikes aren't even groups people in one place, and sometimes there are spkes in social media synchronously with the peaks in users. That's great because sharing via social media was one of the original aims we set for the virtual microscope. As the table below shows, most links are posted on facebook. Now I wonder if that's people using facebook to ask questions or post answers... 

Social Media referrals to the Virtual Microscope websites in the last four weeks.

Facebook 167
Twitter 58
tinyURL 23
Weebly 3
Blogger 1
Pinterest 1 1

We’re always happy to hear feedback – just email

Simon Kelley.