Friday, August 08, 2003

Too Much Information?

A few months ago I added a stats feature to my blog. This tells me how many people have visited my site, hour by hour and minute by minute. If I pimp my blog on another site, I just have to check the response later. It's already a compulsion of mine. I almost wish I had never learned how to do it.

What's especially interesting is that my stats program will tell me where people click through to my blog. This can tell me a lot.

For instance, if I post a comment on a web board with a link to my site, I can see how many people clicked on that exact link to reach my blog. This would be a marketing executive's dream.

I just sent an evite to my friends for my 39th birthday party. In the invitation I jokingly mentioned that "[a]ny unacceptable behavior will be photographed, described and published in my blog" and left a link. Three of my friends have already clicked through from the evite to my blog. (And I know that they are Chris W., Bob P. and Linda L. )

I've also noticed that, if people access their email through the web and click on a link to my blog in an email message, I can tell what service they use. This doesn't help me to identify them if they use AOL or MSN. However, I've noticed people who check their work email using Microsoft Outlook because I recognize the their employer whose name appears in the stats. (Apparently people at both the New England Conservatory and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration once checked out my blog though I have no idea who they were.)

Most amusingly, people are now clicking onto this site after finding it in a web search. It took a few months for the search engines to find "Pot of George" but I'm now receiving hits regularly. The intriguing aspect of this is that, through my stats program, I can tell what words people used to search when they found my site.

Already a distant British cousin found me by googling "Billenness." "Pot of George" is now the first search item under "Simon Billenness, "Billenness Blog" or just "Billenness."

The interesting part is realizing how the search engine often takes words from several different of my blog entries to satisfy the terms of the person's search. This has meant that web surfers have found my blog after searching on such mundane terms as:

"Macy's "downtown crossing" photo"
"why is there a change in the pronunciation of word Qatar" (This was through Ask Jeeves.)
"Homeland Security T-Shirt"
"first-ken-doll"
"janeane garofalo playing the violin"
"Simon Billenness" and Oxfam
"Filene's Basement" customer banned
"Burma Freedom and Democracy Act" House 2003 July
"pottery barn crazy quilt"
"rebecca korbet"
"SEIU"
"image of beastie boys buddhist tattoo"
"jamaica plain arboretum"
"Howard Dean" "Jamaica Plain"
"Geoff Challinger"
"Pictures of old Manhattan" (This one courtesy of the Spanish Google site.)
"verona downs"
"unitarian"
"Pot Of George+Bianca Jagger"
"Bianca Jagger+honest"
"full frontal pr" "laermer"

One search - "songs by george sanders" - caught my interest. It turns out that George Sanders wrote "The Teapot Song" that goes:

I'm a little teapot, short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up, then I shout:
"Just tip me over, pour me out!"


This fact is courtesy of the "Tea Spirit" TM web site.

More amusing - or alarming - have been some of the more way out searches using such terms as:

"shamed coed stories" (As of today, my blog is still on the first page of this search on google.)
"united pot smokers t-shirt" ("Pot of George refers to a tea pot. Stupid search engines...)
"Pictures of men in business suits and ties being sexual and enjoying sex" (Who wants to find this stuff?)
"sexual tattoo" (This was from the francophone Google site again due to my entry on relationships and pants of June 23.)
"THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH" pictures coed (I'm proud that Pot of George is the first item under this search on Google New Zealand.)

To paraphrase Ari Fleischer, I had better watch what I say.

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