Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fleeting, Questionable Fame...

We all want to be loved... Writers want to be read, and I guess, since I'm a blogger, it is nice to know that my small efforts on this corner of the Internet are read and enjoyed. While is nice to be really popular, I'd likely continue on this blog just for a diary and photo album for personal use even if I were doing it just for me!

I don't know if you've noticed way down on the bottom of the page, long ago Melinda put in a "Feedjit" live traffic feed. If you click on the "real-time view" at the base of the display, it will reveal the last 50 people who have been on the site. Since 99.9% of our readers never leave a comment, I sometimes peruse the traffic feed to see what people are looking at. I don't know who the actual people are, but it tells the town of the Internet Service Provider (ISP), operating system, what browser software folks are using, country of origin, that sort of stuff. I can tell when sister Kathy is browsing the blog as we don't get a lot of readership from Wheatland, IA! It also tells if the readers came directly or found us via a Google search (Google uses BlogSpot for content on their searches). In a "normal" traffic day, the bottom of the "Feedjit" page might be someone from 24 hours previously.

But lately the blog has been fleetingly popular! The chart at left shows an example, showing our daily traffic from the last month. The first big peak on 7 July was from my post about the earth passing aphelion, and comparing the sun's image from aphelion/perihelion. I had gotten the idea from Mr Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait back when he posted about perihelion last January. So I sent him a link to let him enjoy. Well he posted the link on his Twitter feed, and for a day the bottom of the "Feedjit" page was like 25 minutes earlier instead of 24 hours! I don't do the Twitter, but from those thousands of hits, no one left comments, but still - nice to be read and hopefully enjoyed!

The second peak is from another reference... While I consider myself sort of a scientist, this source of "fame" is from what appears to be a conspiracy/UFO website. They reference an old post of mine where I imaged some geosynchronous satellites 2 years ago. But in their post the satellite images are used as an example of "Chimera implant stations"... What is interesting to me is that this sort of nonsensical posting is evidently extremely popular, as you can see it shot our readership up for several days, and we're still seeing traffic literally from around the world! And besides the above English site, there are also mirror sites in Spanish, French, and I've seen a Greek site as well, all carrying the link to our blog.

So I'm a little torn - I enjoy that folks are reading the blog, but would hope the readership enjoy it for the science and nature aspects of it, not as support for whacky theories. It that too much to ask?!


Anonymous said...

in a word.... "no" it is not too much to ask. it is the nature of writing in general. there are always folks who reference material to lend flimsy support to their musings. it happens with all forms of writing; books, magazine articles, you name it, if its in print a percentage of folks will always misinterpret "your" ideas. It even happens in ordinary conversations. as evidenced by the fact that some folks think that "listening" to someone = "agreeing" with them. Not so. listening is just listening.

the information age and global access to just about anything, makes this a more likely risk as a writer. you could always edit those erroneously referenced posts, or post to them a bracketed disambiguation statement distancing your writing from the goonies...... just saying'
> your long time anonymous and not so anonymous commenter :-)

and on a more important subject, still praying for melinda :)

John Dolby said...

Yeah, remember Nancy and the Zetas? No, they weren't a rock band! But that was then. Way back in the dark ages of the internet, when there were apocalyptic comets in the sky. I, too am shocked by the numbers these days, though. In my sheltered life I assume that people are smarter now because it's quick and painless to Google something rather than speculate or conjecture and fall for scams and hoaxes. Hasn't everyone been taught the harsh and valuable lesson from unwittingly forwarding an urban-legend email and getting the dreaded reply from one of their recipients containing a link to Therefore, my expectation is that there are fewer people today who would jump on the bandwagon of conspiracy theory. But all it takes is to search YouTube for videos of amateur-astronomy topics: comets, eclipses, constellations, telescopes, NASA, etc. Your first hits will be relevant, but after watching one video, the next YouTube suggestions page you get will be chock-full of conspiracy-theory and superstition-driven videos. In fact, it seems like there are far more of those kinds of videos than legit amateur-astronomy videos to be found. And they are typically far more popular than the amateur-astronomy videos, judging by the numbers of their views. I was stunned to come across an "unboxing video" of a $6000 Meade SCT created by a person who used it for his conspiracy-theory "observations," and not for amateur astronomy! So, I guess it's "not too much to ask for" but it is certainly (and sadly) too much to expect healthy skepticism and the consistent application of Occam's Razor in our times. And for that, I stand as astonished as you are. But we both know the correct response to the situation: Just keep doing what you're doing! Full speed ahead and darned the torpedoes! By the way, it's not graphical but when I open a new tab in Windows IE on my PC, it ranks my "frequents" sites as suggestions, and you should be pleased to know that your page is right in the middle there! Oh, wait. That doesn't prove I'm not a kook, does it? Drat!