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Ego-Surfing the Web

Recently Arnold Kling, in linking to my weblog, mentioned that he found my website through ?ego-surfing.? At first I did not understand the phrase, until I realized that it meant the nasty habit of content producers to look up any web references to their own web pages. I admit to this practice with some shame. A webmaster can also view the referrer logs to see the page a person visited before yours and then go to investigate this referral page.

For most of this year, this site had about three visitors a week. People, don?t overwhelm my server! Actually, I thought my web traffic was a lot higher (maybe even 8 or 9 visits a week), until I realized that some of the so-called ?unique visitors? were in fact just me viewing my page from the PC at my sister?s house or my temp job (And yes, I frequently hit refresh just to see the page with a different color). Most people stumbled here after searching for a strange series of technical words (i.e. Roxio, nurhaliza, xml, etc), and my hapless page showed up on page 4 of the results. Camworld reports receiving 60,000 unique visitors a day on average, a fact that is not really surprising, when you consider how long Cameron Barrett has been doing it and more importantly how long the internet address has stayed the same. That?s the key to getting known: never changing the url for your site! Fortunately, the current url for this weblog is semi-permanent.

What would the world of letters have been like if creative people from the past could track the number of people who had read or seen their works in some way? Until the last decade, an artist could be sustained by the illusion that a novel could be passed around or checked out of the library or that the painting could be viewed at a gallery or museum. But nowadays, nothing remains hidden, not even the IP address. And with emails, a message can be sent to a web page creator with only a few mouse clicks. Writers and readers have a much easier time of keeping track of each other. The current relationship between writer and reader is much more informed than before, and that is a good thing. It means that the writer can gather feedback more quickly and have a better idea about what people like to read. Or it can let a writer know how few readers he really has.

Frequently I?ve gone to www.diaryland.com and read random diaries. Some of them (the ones by teenage girls who have mastered photoshop usually,) already have bulletin boards, sitemeters and guestbooks already filled with adoring fans, but others are written by ordinary people (like you and me). They are usually shocked?just shocked?if another live person actually reads and enjoys his or her web journal.

One other guilty pleasure: just for fun, I type my name into google and see what all the people with my same name are doing. My favorite is Robert Nagle, Adventure Speaker. Well, at least we’re both Irish.

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