3.04.2009

Most Depressing Search Referral Ever of the Day Today Ever

Today, at 3:42 pm, someone from Alamogordo, New Mexico arrived at my blog via searching Google.  The search phrase he used was "was the great depression before the civil war."

He landed on my post, Great Depression II and/or Civil War II?, which apparently didn't satiate his crucial and penetrating thirst for knowledge, because he spent zero seconds there.  I wonder now if I should go back and edit that post to clearly state the timeline relating the Great Depression and the Civil War so as to satisfy the demand for such information.  Perhaps it's my duty to the public school system to help out.

6 comments:

Rational Jenn said...

Stop it. (with eyebrows raised)

Burgess Laughlin said...

Focusing on those who don't or won't or can't understand is a step on the road to resignation or even psychological depression .

I never monitor traffic. I rejoice if any intelligent person ever comments or asks a question.

Best to you in difficult times.

C. August said...

I don't think having a bit of fun about an astonishingly stupid thing is a step on the road to resignation or depression. In fact, I find it cathartic once in awhile. I suppose if one focused predominantly on such things it could be destructive, but that's not the case here.

Now, about monitoring traffic. I always monitor traffic, and because of that I can see which posts I write generate the most page views, and which don't. In other words, it's a small feedback mechanism to give me clues about how effective I am at getting my ideas out there.

It's also interesting to see how many people search for information about actual deck chairs from the Titanic. The answer? A lot.

Burgess Laughlin said...

> ". . . I can see which posts I write generate the most page views, and which don't. In other words, i it's a small feedback mechanism to give me clues about how effective I am at getting my ideas out there."

As a long-term student of history, I am interested in the process of dissemination of ideas throughout society and across time. What I don't understand here is how the number of page views tells you how effective you are in disseminating your ideas. Perhaps you are not saying that.

Is the number of page views a measure of effectiveness of your skills in argumentation--or a measure of interest in the subject?

You are precise in what you say: ". . . small feedback mechanism to give me clues . . . ." I am intrigued by this approach. Perhaps the simplest way to examine it, if you don't mind discussing it, is to ask about results: In what way, if any, would you change your actions in the future as a result of high or low page-views on an article you write?

I know you wouldn't change your ideas. Would you in the future give greater preference to some subjects than to others? Journalists have told me that newspapers do that. The use the number of letters--positive or negative--they receive about an article as a guide to whether they ever write about that subject again.

Again, my interest is learning how such a clue might affect what you do as a writer and therefore an agent in society.

C. August said...

In the interest of providing context, I develop and maintain websites for a living, and using web traffic reporting is a part of my job. Thus, I use it to gain information about how effective my efforts are.

I'm painfully aware of how problematic web traffic reporting is. There is still value there, but it is tough to tease out. So when you mention equating page views to dissemination effectiveness, you're right that I was not saying that.

You raise some very good questions and I want to think about them for a bit, so I'll put off the rest of your comment and hopefully post a better response tomorrow.

Burgess Laughlin said...

Thank you very much for the clarification. I suspect your situation is similar to that of many professionals: "Professional judgment" is required for making assessments and for choosing a course of action. Finding indicators is difficult. Worse is the fact that no one in these professions has a logical procedure for either reaching conclusions or taking actions.

E.g., should a particular man who has prostate cancer do nothing, have the prostate removed, have it irradiated, or suffer chemotherapy? There is no universally or even generally applicable algorithm for deciding what to do. The best that the physician can do is systematically examine the evidence (lab results, age, etc., as well as statistical "evidence" about outcomes) and make a "professional judgement." It comes from the subconscious and is no better than the data and principles "programmed" into it.

A subset of this issue is "the problem of measurements." It is notorious in the social sciences, especially in my field of interest, history. E.g., what was the cause of the U. S. Civil War? If there was more than one, which was the biggest cause? That is an ordinal measurement -- very difficult to do.