June 18, 2008

My _Guardian_ column on Internet Privacy Norms Argument

"Judge fell through the web's open doors"

New technologies bring new ways for people to embarrass themselves - just ask the prominent and colourful judge Alex Kozinski

[I didn't pick the title, but it's OK]

I put the issue in the context of competing concepts of "everything not explicitly prohibited is permitted", versus "everything not explicitly permitted is prohibited".

By the way, I did some statistics regarding the readership on my investigation post:

Total IP's - about 1,500. Referers:

patterico.com - 411
unknown - 312
google web searches - 224
other sethf.com posts - 188
lessig.org comments - 117
groklaw.net comment - 114
thelede.blogs.nytimes.com comment - 35
feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu comment - 19
google blog searches - 16
abovethelaw.com comment - 14
uslaw.com comment - 13

Granted, it had a somewhat greater impact than the raw numbers would indicate. But it's still rather pitiful compared to the daily reach of an A-lister's blog. Yet another proof that being right is no substitute for being popular, and blogging is a wasteful bad habit for me :-(.

[For all columns, see the page Seth Finkelstein | guardian.co.uk.]

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 07:54 PM | Comments (5)
December 13, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture? (trying to refute "Google"/Rogers ISP story)

What's Wrong With This Picture?

techmeme google-hijack cluster image

If you said "The one post with real research in it (as opposed to echoing) is relegated to an obscure discussion link, and to add to the irony, a higher-ranked blog is getting more attention just for mentioning that post", you can speak the language of Z-listers.

Let's run the numbers, from referers:

Total additional readers of post = approximately 335 unique IP addresses

comment I left at techdirt.com - 78
comment I left at mattcutts.com - 76
comment I left at blog.wired.com - 32
mention at mathewingram.com - 31
from other posts on sethf.com - 17
obscure discussion spot on techmeme.com - 20

In terms of having any effect - not "expressing myself", but real influence - that's pitiful.

I have got to stop doing this stuff, and to begin cleaning-up the loose-ends and "decommissioning" this blog.

Bonus link:

PBS on blogging

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:08 AM | Comments (19)
December 04, 2007


A brief measurement:

Yesterday's post ended up as a "discussion link" on Techmeme.com. How many readers did that bring in? Approximately 45. There were a few smaller echoes. But the sum total of external sites sending traffic to the post seems to be not much more than 100 readers. While all readers are gratefully accepted, that's a long way from A-listdom.

On the other hand, that blog post now has the #4 Google spot for the search [Wikipedia Cabal], which is amusing.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:58 PM | Comments (7)
November 25, 2007

Aftermath of Conservapedia / Homosexual page statistics prank

Here's the readership statistics on my debunking of the Conservapedia Homosexuality story. From my site logs:

Distinct IP's - 4199

boingboing.net update - 2316, plus a few hundred from various BB syndicated feeds
unknown - 504
crookedtimber.org blog comment - 389
scienceblogs.com ("pharyngula") blog comment - 126
stumbleupon.com - 89

It speaks for itself. There's nothing more for me to say that I haven't already said too many times :-(.

Interestingly, the Conservapedia people seem very unconcerned with the prank. It's a good reminder of how there can be very little overlap between groups. While bloggers were hyping and hyperventilating over it, the site's main discussion page is not full of drama. One amusing comment about a jump in (real) site traffic, directly under a short section about the statistics page issue, has:

Looking at the [site traffic rank] spike, I'm wondering if there was any specific coverage of Conservapedia that brought all the traffic here - has anyone seen or heard of anything of the like? Or did we just have a very lucky day? Well, all the hard work put into Conservapedia was more than mere "luck", of course. :)

Why, yes, there has been some specific coverage recently which would drive traffic, I think it's something newfangled called "flogs".

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (9)
June 24, 2007

Readership Statistics on Goring Gorman's Google Grump

The Michael Gorman / Google post I wrote a few days ago was significant effort to do original work, and, I thought, something worth flacking around to various gatekeepers. So, I tried one high-volume place (which didn't accept it), and a few librarian-oriented sites, and left some comments. Here's the readership results, from referer logs (unique IPs).

unknown - 139
LISnews.org - 189
crookedtimber.org - 59
librarian.net - 61
blogs.britannica.com - 16

All in all, adding in the 100 or so people that seem to actually read the article from feeds or site in general, it looks like that post got around a total of 600 readers. I hate to say it, but it's another example of, given the effort involved in research, writing, *and* flacking, it's not worth it.

An earlier Britannica post did get noticed by some other interesting blogs, e.g. Link Spiel. I'm also among interesting company (though sadly just seven hits richer) from Frank Paynter's link list:

Seth Finkelstein, my favorite should-be-an-A-lister, takes a close look at the Britannica blog's recent link baiting behavior.

Thanks, Frank, but it's not going to happen. :-(

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:58 PM | Comments (6)
March 11, 2007

Statistics On The Recent Wikipedia Blog Posts

I ran some analysis to see how many additional hits (past the core blog audience) I'd gotten from all the wasted time, I mean, citizen-netfinity, spent recently on writing about Wikipedia.

The most-read item was the post What The New Yorker Article Fraud Tells Us About Wikipedia, which received a grand accumulated total of 1,541 unique IP's (excluding known crawler-bots). Nothing else broke 1,000.

Of those hits, no referers = 281 (i.e. can't tell source, could be unknown spiders), and internal sethf.com referers = 162.

For the purposes of seeing what sends traffic, let me toss those out, leaving a base of 1541 - 281 - 162 = 1098. The top referers were:

techmeme.com 344 - 31% (that was surprising, making good screen placement)
metafilter.com 176 - 16% (from a mention in somebody's comment)
[note - top *two* are nearly half!]
roughtype.com 133 - 12%
dailyrotten.com 96 - 9%
Google searches 94 - 9%
[note - about a quarter!]

So, a handful of sites are approximately 75% percent of the referals. Not news, but another proof of the silliness of "Long Tail" fable.

I know a few people enjoyed it. But for the amount of effort involved, the result is overall just more frustration.

Bonus link, maybe I can get away with this recent specimen:

The Net is a giant zero. It puts everybody zero distance from everybody and everything else. And it supports publishing and broadcasting at costs that round to zero as well.


Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 10:51 PM | Comments (9)
December 03, 2006

Google Rankings Now Fixed For WikipediaWatch

Shortly after my previous post was published, and echoed at Google Blogoscoped (a popular Google-oriented blog, ranks #44 of all blogs on Technorati), whatever Google penalty flag which affected the Wikipedia Watch site was removed. Search position for relevant terms skyrocketed. It's clear this wasn't a transitory problem, as it had persisted for months. The most likely explanation is someone at Google who had the power to clear the flag, saw the Google Blogoscoped item, and fixed the false positive.

I will not flatter myself to think they saw my post! In terms of audience, the Google Blogoscoped echo only sent around 39 hits. Now, all readers gratefully accepted, but it was a revealing statistic. Another data-point in what I think of as The Meaning Of Exponential Distribution Of Attention.

From another angle, this case was an example of the problems of Google's spam algorithms, and needing to "know someone" to get a problem fixed.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 10:46 PM | Comments (1)
May 23, 2006

What Drove The Hits To A Google Post

... think instead about how to get a few key people to read what you are blogging - that's what will really bring the traffic. -- Robert Sc*ble

There's been awe-inspiring traffic results from the recent 10 Things You Might Not Know About Google posting (which was in fact written by Philipp Lenssen, as part of a blog swap). For edification, here's some numbers:

Total page views: 97971
Total unique IP addresses: 86827

Number one source: digg.com: 38822 unique IP address visitors (~ 45%)

Bloglines subscribers (main feed): up from 222 to 236

Technorati rank: From about 120 sites linking to 180 sites linking, raising the blog rank from around 15,000 to around 9,000 (!). Maybe I should promote myself to C-lister nowadays, rather than Z-lister.

And lots and lots of blog-spam.

There feels like there's yet another lesson in here (besides the now-tedious fact that I'm wasting my time on unedited-voice essays and censorware/DMCA net activism - contrary to blog evangelism, the little guy does not get heard) . Launch a Google-oriented site? I keep going back and forth on the "business case". Maybe.

Top site referers by unique IP address after the jump below:


Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 10:40 AM | Comments (2)
April 20, 2006

Post1000versary, and skepticism related to growth statistics

Milestone: Post #1000. Is that half a working year in total? sad face

There was recently yet another spate of articles on blog statistics. I remain skeptical of the precise numbers, given that nobody else can examine them, as unverified reports are often wrong. But the interest is a good reason to reflect on what such growth statistics mean (especially since the press eats up the hype, and it'll be echoed many times).

While it's unarguable that there's growth, I think there's some questions as to where the growth is going. My conjecture is that it's going first to increasing numbers of young people chatting with friends (e.g. MySpace), then to generally popular pundits, then a little to local A-list BigHeads, and last of all to the Z-listers. So doubling of the total number of the bogosphere doesn't necessarily translate into doubling to the average blog-writer. It's tricky to establish this, though, because there's definitely an increase in automated retrievals of pages, and that *will* affect everyone to some extent.

It's very important to examine raw data with care. For example, I get some hundreds of image retrievals a day from various piggybackers using my site bandwidth to display icons, something which I haven't bothered about since it's relatively trivial. But if I mistakenly believed that it meant anything, I'm sure it would contribute to an impressive but meaningless number of hits (as in, "I get blah-blah unique IP addresses visiting my site per day").

There's also numbers which do not mean what you might think they mean. One aggregator-maintainer said there were around 200 subscribers to headlines from my blog. But when I checked against my own log files, it seemed that traffic from there was only one or two readers per day. The number was true. It just didn't mean what it sounded like it meant, what would be easy to believe it meant. Note this wasn't a read-by-feed issue. Rather, ~ 200 headline subscribers translated into one or two real readers.

I decided to look at some subscriber statistics compared to about six months ago

Aggravator November 08, 2005 April 20, 2006
Bloglines (.RDF feed): 189 216
Bloglines (.XML feed): 39 39
Rojo: 27 35
Newsgator: 13 30
Livejournal: 11 11

So, on that measure, there's been a roughly 20% increase in six months. Or, in absolute terms, a whole whopping *52* subscribers (am I A-list yet?). Not that I turn anyone down ... but it does present a different perspective than breathless bubbleness.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (3)
February 18, 2006

The Cold Statistics Of Recent Discussion

Time to do the number, to reality-check the hype and marketing

"Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable sub-human who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house." -- Robert Heinlein

This is a quick check of unique visitors overall from the previous gatekeepers discussion:

doc.weblogs.com : approximately 150
gapingvoid.com : approximately 75
weblog.burningbird.net: approximately 50
tech.memeorandum.com: approximately 36

Last week: Technorati Rank: 28,942 (151 links from 66 sites)

This week, after being first gatekeepered by Doc: Technorati Rank: 23,579 (170 links from 78 sites)

[Flame-retardant: Rank isn't everything. But it's an objective measurement, of some rough utility.]

Maybe 20 new subscribers, most of whom will subsequently be bored away :-).

No, I will not be vaulted to the A-list by a single gatekeeper link. However, the silly reaction I'll parody as "Who me? What's a gatekeeper anyway? We're all gatekeepers, comrade, all animals are equal here down on the blog farm", is belied by the simple fact that far more people heard me this week on the topic, than have in the past.

Bonus link, via "Squash": "Our sad blog decision":

February 15, 2006
Our sad blog decision

This morning we've had to take a difficult decision. Most of you will be aware that for eight or nine months, we've been writing a blog called Razor, for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. Unfortunately, we've found it consuming an increasing amount of our time - three to four hours a day - in research and writing and managing comments.

We've worked out that we've been earning less than 30c a word, compared to the 60c per word average that most IT writers earn. Writing for magazines, we generally earn around $1 per word. We haven't seen much of that $1 per word stuff, however, because blogging leaves us with very little time to do freelance writing. The effects on the Bleeding Edge balance sheet have been pretty drastic.

Additional memesterbaiting:

The dismal traffic numbers also point to another little trade secret of the blogosphere, and one missed by Judge Posner and all the other blog-evangelists when they extol the idea that blogging allows thousands of Tom Paines to bloom. As Ana Marie Cox says: "When people talk about the liberation of the armchair pajamas media, they tend to turn a blind eye to the fact that the voices with the loudest volume in the blogosphere definitely belong to people who have experience writing. They don't have to be experienced journalists necessarily, but they write - part of their professional life is to communicate clearly in written words."

[Note professional life maps to income!]

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (4)
February 05, 2006

More stats-blogging and proof of gatekeeping

I hate to bore away what few readers I have, but, sadly, mathematics keeps showing I'm not going to ever get that many in the first place (which again, is the major discouragement to me from launching into a lot of unpaid Google research). Let's do the numbers ...

There was an amusing reference to me in a comment at The Blogging of the President:

Stirling, you are beginning to sound like Seth Finkelstein, also smart and usually ignored.

I like that. So true :-(. Anyway, it was worth 15 referers for readers.

Wonderful compliment at Liza Sabater / Culturekitchen : "Google's new motto : Do no evil (unless there's a profit)"

Seth Finkelstein is the man I read daily for all things truthy about Google.

There might have been a single hit from there (interesting data point, given the Technorati Rank: 3,329).

Some nice mentions in Jon Garfunkel / Civilities: Negotiating for your Social Data:

Google does not clearly indicate which of its results are censored, which have made Seth's research on the company (as well as his pioneering work in censorware description) more unique and valuable.

But just one referred hit.

All of them handily *still* beat from the _The Register_ offhand link two weeks ago old, at 98 referers.

Bonus link: Lis Riba discussing Net Neutrality:

What's truly ironic was this "foresight" was totally based upon studies of past communication technologies in my Social Informatics class. Each was initially heralded as a way of increasing communication and education for the unserved and/or isolated populations. And in the end, they became just another mass media entertaining the lowest common denominator. No matter how open each new medium appears at its introduction, eventually, inevitably, gatekeepers emerge.

For example, when radio first appeared, transmitting equipment was relatively cheap. Radio was seen as a way to connect rural farms to one another and to the larger world. There was plenty of bandwidth for lots of small mom&pop community radio stations. And nowadays, it's mostly Clear Channel. Outside college radio stations it's nearly impossible for upcoming musicians to get on the air without pay-for-play.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 01:55 PM | Comments (4)
January 29, 2006

Weekend stats-blogging and results

Some statistical reality checks (unique IP referers):

One offhand link (thanks, Andrew!) from The Register: 3407

A postscript mention in a long post at searchenginewatch.com: 246

Various punditry I did at various Googly blogs (e.g. Google Blogscoped): several dozen each

tech.memeorandum.com: 37

New readers: A handful? Doesn't seem to be many, 10 would be optimistic.

One can almost see an exponential distribution in the results. It may not be precisely a power-law, but the order-of-magnitude differences seem obvious.

The results of the straw poll on whether to do more Google material weren't overwhelming. Of course it's popular. But it looks like there's going to be much competition from everyone else with the same overall idea.

Related, at the moment, I'm sitting out ChinaCenGoo investigations. There's already lots of pluckers of low-hanging fruit. No point in my chasing the pack. And that way lies temptation to do decryption, which would likely be very bad for me.

Bonus link: Dave Rogers: "Competing Messages: Technorati and the Post-Cluetrain(TM) World"

The existence of this ranking mechanism is to promote the interests of Technorati, not individual bloggers. It is a cynical attention-seeking mechanism that exploits the weakness of the human ego to direct attention to Technorati, and, for some people, it is a source of some suffering. Not serious suffering, not agony, in most cases, but it is a source of some concern. Certainly, the existence of the Top 100 and the entire ranking mechanism seems incompatible with the notion that, "we shouldn't be evaluating blogs and bloggers by how many people read them."

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:52 PM
January 15, 2006

Traffic From Some Article Mentions

There's a popular article "One-stop site for blogs offered" about yet another startup trying to make a business of freelance writers, I mean, blogs ("Gather.com"). Happily, there's also skeptical takes. However, rather than repeat myself shouting to the wind, the relevant data for this post is that right in the middle of that webpage is a link for Boston.com's page on Greater Boston blogs and podcasts. Where this blog is listed on the page's "Computers and technology" section. All such links gratefully accepted, thanks. However, given all the attention that Gather.com article has received, it's interesting the Boston.com blog page (i.e. a click from the main article), has sent me a burst of total traffic of *SIX* (6) referers. Six. Those are the numbers.

Related Lis Riba was included in a NYTimes "Blogger Roundup" on the Alito hearings, and it produced "only one hit referred ... in the over eighteen hours since it was posted." (n.b. I believe the explanation in that post isn't correct - I suspect that inclusion had more to do with linking to a law A-list'er, not Technorati keyword search).

Bottom line: There's a tiny set of sources of significant attention, with all this implies (business who want to be that set, shifts in that set, sources favored by that set, etc.).

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 04:48 PM | Comments (3)
November 16, 2005

GooglePrint EgoSurfing

Google Print now has enough items to make for an interesting print egosurf. Some numbers for a few websites:

37 pages on "peacefire.org"
6 pages on "censorware.org"
1 pages on "censorware.net"
4 pages on "sethf.com"

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:42 PM | Comments (1)
November 08, 2005

Questions to readers: 1) Feedster aggregator users 2) Google audience

Two "reader poll" questions:
1) Are there really 84 subscribers using "Feedster" as an aggregator?
2) Is there anyone out there still hanging around just for the Google posts?

The current readership statistics for Infothought are roughly:

Bloglines (.RDF feed): 189
Bloglines (.XML feed): 39
Rojo: 27
Newsgator: 13
Livejournal: 11
Direct daily page views: ~100
website RSS Feed: ~175

Total: ~ 554

This is of necessity somewhat imprecise, but there aren't a thousand readers under a rock somewhere. Better than the average diary-writer, but basically unimproved, and still miserable in terms of changing the world. So:

1) There's a "feedster" entry in the logs which reads "Feedster Crawler/1.0; Feedster, Inc. (84 subscribers)". But that doesn't seem right. All the other aggregator numbers change slowly (-1, +1, -1, +1, -1, +1, +1, etc.). However, the Feedster entry ramped up fast and then doesn't move at all. Something's wrong with it. Did I get put on a default list, then taken off? I'm curious, if anyone knows how the Feedster stats work.

2) I had some intention of doing a no-"personal", more Google-focused, site, and trying to make sure I didn't lose the "search" audience until I got it set up. But my current PAID programming consulting is happily rising, so drumming-up SEO business (or even a search startup ...) is seeming less cost-effective right now. So that's looking like it'll be pushed-off a bit at least. Anybody still around waiting for me to do that? I suspect any "search" readers I picked up from the Google Yahoo size investigation are either gone by now, or it takes a lot to drive them off :-).

I owe someone an article, and I should do a current explanatory post about being driven to personally quit the fight for the DMCA censorware exemption, and maybe a retrospective. But beyond that and any treading-water posts, life trumps blogging.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 01:01 AM | Comments (6)
May 06, 2005

Friday Stat-Blogging

Some numbers for reality-checks:

Around six months ago, I estimated my readership at around 350. Now, many, many pages and even one blog defending freedom of expression award nomination later, I seem to be all the way up to ... a bit more than 500 readers. The breakdown is roughly:

180 Bloglines (all feeds) + 150 aggregators + 100 website + 80 Feedster =~ 510 readers

There's also a few general mirror feeds, I'm not sure how to count them (it's not clear how much the general mirrors are actually read).

I know that number is more than the vast majority of bloggers. I know. But sadly, it still doesn't put me anywhere in much of position to have an effect. It's a lot of work, to move up the exponential curve.

Thursday was a big hit day for my Al Gore page, due to the overall publicity on the topic from his Webby Lifetime Achievement Award. Around 750 hits then. Interestingly, that was still much less than one popular Slashdot comment. I get notable flack for making references to Slashdot, but those are the numbers.

My CNN blog spam theory post post eventually attracted an A-list link in an update, and that generated around 200 hits. I should make clear, for people thinking sour-grapes, that it's not utterly impossible for me to get an A-list mention. But pitching editors to accept my unsolicited submission is not my idea of a good time. Always, Gatekeepers.

Oh, I hear there's another blog conference going on now. Where people who have media positions or related service jobs, will talk among themselves as to how great it is that so many unpaid freelancers will now displace paid employees. And that there's a sucker born every minute who can be data-mined or used as a volunteer stringer. Or something like that.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (6)
November 14, 2004

Echo Statistics - Where The Referers Are

It's been a while since I did some detailed Readership Analysis, so I went and checked over my logs to get some fresh data. I wanted to answer the question: "What's the best I've done recently at being heard, and where?".

For all of September and October, I had only one regular blog post which, again cumulative over the entire two months, registered over 1000 readers, specifically 1112 total unique IP address accesses. I know, I know, people will tell me not to complain, there are bloggers starving in Africa (or enslaved in Sudan). But this is my absolute personal best for over two months - and note it's less than one popular Slashdot comment, or the daily readership for some not even A-list.

The stand-out item was the BNETD / Blizzard entry, which concerned the horror of that court decision for fair use. The echoes broke down from major sources as follows:

Total = 1112 (excludes constant regular blog audience)

freedom-to-tinker discussion1029.2%
Wes Felter echo857.6%
Ernest Miller echo716.4%
Google searches on keywords (later)877.8%
Groklaw discussion mention464.1%
sethf.com (i.e. later blog entries)393.5%

Not exactly a Slashdot effect, but instructive in the distribution.

No echoes == no audience.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (2) | Followups
March 13, 2004

Readership Analysis, or looking for free porn in all the wrong places

One commenter recently noted that though I intended a blogging slowdown, I wrote much recently. Mea Culpa. The Free porn, Google, spam, Internet censorship, and the Supreme Court combination was too tempting to let pass: Google *and* porn *and* stupid journalism tricks *and* Internet censorship laws ...

And then I wanted to capitalize on whatever traffic it might have brought me.

But looking at the numbers for that post since it was written, the audience doesn't seem to have been spectacular.

Total specific readers (unique IP's): 514

No referer : 105
librarian.net 131
google's : 139
other search sites (may contain rebranded google): 82
bloglines.com subscribers: 27
and misc sources

So, observe the importance of the gatekeeper. In this case the librarian.net reference. That reference was comparable to my total average readership.

Too many people are looking for Free Porn in all the wrong places (though, to be fair, they may not know it).

Sigh. Again, gatekeepers or nothing. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:41 PM | Comments (1) | Followups
February 01, 2004

Readership Analysis, or my numbers for "punditry is not democracy"

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

"Won't Get Fooled Again", *The Who*

In honor of "The God That Failed" (whether Howard Dean or blogs), I've done some more readership analysis, for two of my popular posts on those topics.

My item "Howard Dean Is (Was) a Bubble IPO" had reader statistics:

Total specific readers (unique IP's): 91

No referer : 33
wonkette.com : 30
corante.com : 15
and misc sources

The corante.com reference is from posting to the highly-read discussion in "Is Social Software Bad for the Dean Campaign?" and I think that led to the wonkette.com mention on the page "Cliche Alert: HowardDean-dot-bomb"

For Howard Dean, Joe Trippi, and Bubble Valuation, it has:

Total specific readers (unique IP's): 212

No referer: 69
scripting.com: 101
corante.com: 23
and misc sources

Note the bulk of the readership here is basically due to being mentioned by two A-listers, Dave Winer - Jan 30 (not something which "just happened", I took a risk and asked, in reply to a call for comments, thanks Dave), and a (thanks) David Weinberger post.

Thrills. My career as a blog-pundit is obviously being launched.

A few days ago, I was struck by the following JOHO blog / David Weinberger post:

Although many of the guests and Chris himself said that blogs are a grassroots tool open to anyone, the quite reasonable focus on high-traffic bloggers may have led people to think that the blogosphere is a new daily, opinion-based newspaper in which we can read columns by journalists and columnists who have important views that have, on occasion, shaped real world politics. Now, I love the A-List, at least the portion of it I read. And it's thrilling that these are people that we have made popular, whatever the network dynamics are that form A-Lists in the first place. But put 'em together, and the A-List is another daily paper.

Blogging strikes me as more significant than the creation of a competitor to USA Today, albeit one that's fresher, livelier, more personable. Blogs constitute conversations, social networks, and our proxy selves all at once. That's a trio no other "medium" has ever put together and, as Jay Rosen said on Chris' show last night, it's challenging our very model of authority.

Sigh. From down here in the tail end of the power-law curve, it looks like a lot like the same old grind. If you don't get noticed by a gatekeeper, you don't get an audience, except if you're one of the very small number of people who has risen up that power-law curve.

There's similar sentiments in a Leonard Witt / Public Journalism Network Weblog post Are We Developing a Blogger Elite?:

When I tuned into Chris Lydon's Blogging of the President on public radio Sunday night, it was a little like listening to the Sunday Morning Pundits. But instead of the Cokie Roberts, David Brooks, William Safire, Robert Novak, the same old, same olds, we had a new and emerging set of blogger pundits: Jeff Jarvis, Ed Cone, Joshua Micah Marshall, Andrew Sullivan, Atrios . They might have added Joi Ito, Jay Rosen, Doc Searles and the other A-listers, who are now showing up on every conference agenda and on every talk show.

And one proposed solution (heart's in the right place, this is my paraphrase) was that the A-list should, for noblesse oblige reasons, spread around some of the punditry placement to their proteges, in order to diversify the oligarchy a little.

Oh, FEEL THE REVOLUTION! Revel in the challenge to authority, the democracy of "we", the emergent ... pundocracy.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (7) | Followups
January 17, 2004

Readership Analysis

I finally ran some numbers to analyze the impact of Lawrence Lessig's mention of me last month in his post "Seth blog".

The number work out, for unique IP addresses referers:

Dec 16 - 258
Dec 17 - 130, plus 14 from a mirror
Dec 18 - 84, plus 40 from a mirror
Dec 19 - 64, plus 15 from a mirror
Dec 20 - 14, plus 3 from a mirror
Dec 21 - 29, plus 6 from a mirror
Dec 22 - 74, plus 6 from a mirror
Dec 23 - 33, plus 8 from a mirror
[That bump was probably because there was an influx of people to Lessig's site from the Declan McCullagh post, note a few of the referers are from my posting comments there]
Dec 24 - 18, plus 2 from a mirror
Dec 25 - 11 (nothing from mirror)
Dec 26 - 12
Dec 27 - 31 (people back from Christmas? influx from new postings?)
Dec 28 - 33
Dec 29 - 44
Dec 30 - 23

I was getting hits for two to three weeks afterwards, and it didn't stop until the post fell off the Lessig blog page. The Power Of The A-List!

All in all, I received roughly 1000 hits from that mention. Remember, my total readership is around 100.

In contrast, I only received around 177 hits over the same time from the whole Seth Finkelstein Greplaw Interview. Perhaps that's not the best comparison, but sobering all the same. Note the interview didn't get a story in Slashdot, even though such interviews customarily do, for *cough* *cough* obvious reasons ...

Shifting to that interview, it wasn't exactly a major source of readers. By far, most people were interested in reading about how Libertarianism Makes You Stupid, for 62 readers. Then a few dozen people were intrigued about the old, Fena version EFF (not to be confused with the new, Steele version EFF), that had 33 readers. Bennett Haselton on Michael Sims support from his (Sims) journalism job at Slashdot, 29 readers. But the history of touting censorware, 6 - count 'em, you need just a little more than one hand, six, readers.

Related, It's a very scary thought that so much of the awareness regarding Michael Sims domain-hijacking Censorware Project is owed to Slashdot Trolls (I joke, it's like a classical syllogism - all Slashdot Trolls are critical of Michael Sims, but not all who are critical of Michael Sims are Slashdot Trolls).

All of this didn't seem to get me much in the way of new readers. Perhaps a dozen or so. I did notice that a few more people had added me to their aggregator. But we're talking 5 or 6, not 500 or 600.

I remain a blog-peasant.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 04:03 AM | Comments (3) | Followups
November 30, 2003

Recent Report Readership - Statistical Analysis

I ran some statistical analysis regarding the readership for my recent Google report (Google Bayesian Spam Filtering Problem? - http://sethf.com/anticensorware/google/bayesian-spam.php). I wanted to know how much audience it had, and where it came from.

So far, 2088 hits total. Not bad for day's work.

A nice person advertised my report in a Slashdot comment. That was 1251 referers, or 60%.

Then no referer source, at 473 (I think this was also mostly Slashdot, not every hit has a referer).

Then my own site (sethf.com) at 138. This is from the blog, and also I put it on the front page.

Then a few dozen each from a handful of search engine sites, and miscellaneous noise.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but, oh, tell me again about THE MIGHTY POWER OF THE BLOG! Of the great and glorious democracy of cyberspace, where everyone has, err, an equal chance to win the lottery. Let us blow a bouncy bubble of breathless buzz, where all is bright and beautiful, as long as we never actually come down to earth. Blather, bibble, babble ...

Update: Despite being trackback'ed from three blogs, this message has been read by a grand total of around 112 people. Sure, I suppose one of them could be the President, and another could be the Pope. But it's not likely :-(

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:59 PM | Comments (10) | Followups
November 03, 2003

The Smell Of Astroturf In The Morning

Numbers tell patterns and speak volumes, if you can understand their language. It was clear that Presidential candidate John Edwards guest-posting on Lessig blog today was going to draw an audience. Credit-starved beggar that I am, I was hoping that the crowd of people would also read Lessig's post a few items earlier, "thanks, Seth", about DMCA exemptions. And so I'd benefit via a reflection from that publicity.

Nope. As far as I can tell, the crowd went straight to either cheer or boo John Edwards. Almost nobody was reading anything else. No interest. Not that it's unexpected. But it's worthwhile to know, empirically, that was the case.

E-cheering and E-booing does not fill me with a great hope for the future of the web in changing political campaigns.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 04:19 PM | Comments (2) | Followups
June 05, 2003

DMCA censorware hearings transcripts reader statistics notes

I just examined some statistics as to how many readers I've had for the censorware DMCA hearing transcripts:


It turns out there's only a few dozens readers each. Sigh. Why'd I bother?

Psst ... SEX in DC:

MR. FINKELSTEIN: ... I would also like to say that, for all this talk of the pornography sites, since they were blacklists, they are really bad collections of pornography sites. (Laughter.)

I want to go into this because I get this -- no, let me go into this. People are always asking me this question: "Oh, boy, have you gotten any good porn sites?" And I tell them, "It's really bad, if you want to get some good sites, don't look in this censored blacklist."

In fact, I can demonstrate that -- (laughter) -- because when the CyberPatrol blacklist went out, nobody ever said that it was such a great collection. The reason why - this is important -- I know this is funny, but the reason why that they're such bad lists is because there's so much junk in them.

If you wanted a list of sex sites, would you want to go through somebody else's tastes, sites which didn't work, sites which had changed ownership, or so forth? No, you would want a good collection from somebody who had actually made a collection which would appeal to you, and there are people who sell them. There are people who make them for free. They have absolutely no impact on the research that I am doing.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 12:50 AM | Followups
March 01, 2003

And the hits keep coming ...

2,117 hits and more, today and yesterday, on my article Chester's Guide to Molesting Google
Virtually all from The Register's piece Google in paedo censorship debacle
I don't know whether to be grateful for the publicity, or frightened by the ease at which the journopower was unleashed.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 09:12 PM | Followups
October 13, 2002

Another "journalism pyramid" height-check

It's a very slow day, so I'll do another height check of where I rate on the journalistic pyramid.

There's still some legs in my most recent anticensorware material
"SmartFilter stupidity - books sites as SEX"

I received another 250 or so hits from a mention in a news compilation from " Heise Online", a German site. I think the article is noting poor coverage of Internet issues, and links to me in a sentence reading "Are there no unbanned books"?

Another German-based site, stop1984.com, had my report on their news list, which was good for around 100 hits.

I'm without PR in my own land. I received more coverage here from websites in Germany, than websites in the US!

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 10:20 PM
September 29, 2002

This week's "journalism pyramid" height

Time to measure my height on the journalistic pyramid this week. My last anti-censorware material "SmartFilter stupidity - books sites as SEX" , meant to tie into "Banned Book Week", garnered around 500 hits. The majority of them seemed to come from library mailing-lists, since a notice was send around to those lists due to that tie-in to banned-books week. Perhaps I'm being unreasonable, but under the circumstances it was very disappointing.

Interestingly, there was a drop-off in interest on GrepLaw between this material and the earlier "SmartFilter stupidity - school sites as SEX". The school material received around 136 hits from there, but the book material only about 78 hits. Lisnews, however, showed less of a drop, at 52 vs 44.

Sigh. I'm not of the opinion that if I get just one reader, it's worth it.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 11:56 PM
September 21, 2002

My height on the "Journalistic Pyramid"

A while ago, I wrote an essay: "The Internet and the Journalistic Pyramid".

The point is that the Internet arguably shifted slots on the "Journalistic Pyramid", but it's still a pyramid

The number of hits on my recent anti-censorware material, "SmartFilter stupidity - school sites as SEX" is around 300. There's more reading than that. But it sure isn't much of an audience overall, sigh.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at 06:25 PM