Awstats and stuff

Saturday, 22 March, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

You're perhaps one of the people that wonders what happens to the personal blog of a guy that's been the source of a story which ended up on the front page of slashdot and everything else in January, and then twice in March - both the Berkshire 1k Bitcoin beti and the SEC emails attracting ample attention.

Well, one thing that doesn't happen is the so called slashdot effect. Much to my (and apparently no-one else's surprise), contemporary blogs no longer bite the dust once one major outlet links them. In fact, even should most of the major outlets in a field or two link them they're not going down. This may be, of course, a result of technological maturation : we're no longer running the Internet out of chopsticks and chewing gum like it was the case in the 90s. Current servers are powerful, dependable and much, much cheaper. We could thus say technological maturation has resolved that problem.

We could however also say that social (or if you will, economical, the two aren't distinct in this context) maturation has resolved the problem. For you see, back in 1994 traffic was massively concentrated on just a few (very simple) sites, much like Romanians were concentrated on just a few (very simple) ideologies. You were either for the West, progress, wealth and general well being or else you were for the East, evil and fuck you.ii That as far as everything political goes, and in the matter of aesthetics, you either listened to Iron Maiden and were a cool rocker (!?) of ours or else Depeche Mode and fuck you faggot. Simple!

Obviously that simplicity, other than creating a lot of social disparity and economic inequality, doesn't serve much of a purpose for anyone. And so as things evolve and systems complexify, the disparities dissolve, inequalities flatten and everyone is better served. You could gather about two million Romanians out in the public square to sleep there and scream their lungs out on the grounds of "East, evil and fuck you!" back in 1989. You can hardly gather a hundred on any particular topic today, be it gay parades or retirees' rights. Why is that ? Why should that be ? Whatever.

Things work similarly on the Internet. Back in the day everyone who was cool visited site X, and everyone who was lame visited site Y, and that was the whole of the web : site X and Y. Today nobody makes the sites they visit much of a point of their cool (except, of course, various bunches of lamers, but that's besides the point as they don't have any cool anyway).

Moreover, of all the people interested in one particular topic, or niche, or segment, a vast majority already have a hierarchical structure of sources in their head. If you wish to hear the Republican talking points on the shutdown you don't go to google and type "please show me some representative Republican sites". You already know where to look, which incidentally makes Google significantly less useful in aggregate : sure it can send some visits, but the users it sends aren't representative of the Internet population. They're a selected group, and they're selected for cluelessness. Who would want to pay to be visited by more clueless people ? Some some sort of scammer, perhaps, like a patent toy vendor or something - unless you're selling cheap goods for massive mark-ups, google advertising makes absolutely no sense for you.

At least that's what I'm thinking, because I can find no other explanation for stuff like this :

trilema-march

True, March goes as far as January in terms of unique visits and bandwidth burned, and March is only ~21 days in. So per day it must be something like 50% higher. And yes it does slightly better than February, a month which saw no major outside linkage.

Still... the only thing my eye sees in there is deterioration. Sure, the influx of new users that slashdot and all the many news outlets covering the OpenBSD story brought made February (a shorter month) show slightly more unique visitors than January. So Trilema "retains", to some degree. However, these more visitors actually read fewer pages. (They also generated more hits, on a per capita basis, but this is likely explained by the fact that they didn't have many of the elements on a page cached, like old time visitors do). You would theoretically expect that when someone discovers a treasure trove of fascinating material (which is what Trilema is, spare me the hate, it's misplaced) they binge-read. I know I do, I read three years' worth of Ballas' site in twelve hours,iii I read the whole first page of Nick Szabo in a day and when I discovered Oglaf I took a day off to go through the entire archive.

As far as I know this behaviour is not peculiar to me,iv and while you could perhaps say that it's peculiar to me and the people I know as a self-selected subgroup, the only obvious selection criteria would be that these are intelligent, informed people, which kind-of reduces that putative argument to a restatement of the aforesaid google-is-for-idiots point. In the end, what use are "more people" ? Nobody wants more people, what's desirable is more better people. Just people, that's trivial, costly and to be perfectly frank... smells bad.

Looking through the month's day-by-day, I see a 4x average March 16th, followed by a 1.4x average 17th ; then a 5x average March 19th, followed by a 1.9x average 20th. Today will probably be more or less average, give or take.

The only conclusion I can possibly offer is, don't think your readership is on slashdot, reddit, facebook, whatever-news-site. Odds are, your readership probably already knows about you, if you're five years old or so. And if they don't, they will, but through mentions in their web of trust, not through ads, not through carefully crafted relationships with the people that can - or pretend to be able to - dope the public message with your breadcrumbs. Be they SEO "experts" or PR "professionals" or whatever advertisers in between, the real world of trade - for speech is trade, people exchange words - isn't happening there. They're not the center of it, they're the fringe of it.

When's the last time Drudge was being interviewed on MSNBC as an "expert" or whatever they call the monkeys these days ? And yet, the White House is afraid of him, enough so to be hatching campaigns and so forth. They should be afraid of him : he sunk the previous Democrat president, among other things.

Now how did he manage all that ?

———
  1. Which ended up with something like four entries on Reddit's first page. []
  2. How amusing the Ukrainian replay is for someone who's actually lived the exact story twenty years ago I couldn't begin to tell you. []
  3. This is a massive part of the problem : most good outlets out there consist of five articles the author wrote over the past three years, because smart people have no discipline whatsoever. Exactly opposite, Trilema is a behemoth the size of which boggles the mind. Millions and millions of words, a never ending deluge of cool.

    This may seem ultimately pointless, to the very poorly disciplined smart people in question, a rehash of the ancient La ce imi serveste mie radicalurile ? for slightly better educated people. Consider this point : when a month ago the various alphabet soup secret services of the USG finally discovered that they should have been paying a lot more attention, an intern was given the task to "read and summarize Trilema". A month later about a dozen or so people are working at it, and they're still not done. Because it's not god damned easy, to go through thousands of articles, many of which are in Romanian, and summarize my point. What point ?

    I couldn't have produced this retrospectively, or on a JIT or as-needed basis. The only way to have some classes of things is through making them when you don't actually need them for any directly discernible purpose, something known on #bitcoin-assets as asciilifeform's parachute, but otherwise illustrated by that ancient fable where the fox asks the wolf why's he sharpening his teeth when there's no one to fight, to which the wolf retorts that when there'll be someone to fight there's going to be no time to sharpen teeth.

    So now, consider the following similarity to illuminate your present situation : cryptographically complex, mathematically beautiful algorithms are not defeated because they weren't sufficiently complex or beautiful. They're defeated, and quite trivially so, as a matter of course, because they were trained to be defeatable from the get-go. They were constructed with this purpose in mind. Their defeat is baked in, from the very beginning, in the form of carefully chosen priors.

    This is also why you're trivially defeated. It's not because you're not smart enough, it's not because you're not, in principle, as the theoretical construct you view yourself as, perfectly able to resist. It's because in practice you never do, because you're trained to fail, and because you're trained to construct your failure as you go. The Reuters reporter covering the SEC and financial fraud told me that I'm the only one to have ever released SEC schmooze, why do you think that is ? Do you suppose I'm the first person they came to with their "be our friend, give us free stuff for free" proposition ? Take Zachary Warren as a fine example, ever heard of him ? []

  4. Random convo, happened this month :

    Me http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JumpingTheShark
    Friend Aha.

    Me This was, 2-3 years ago, an excellent reference for all things stupid, or pop or w/e you call the shit. Meanwhile it became popular, and so unless you read it today you'll probably never derive any benefit.
    Friend Yeah I remember tvt.

    Me O, you do ?
    Friend Yeah I once blew away a whole week reading it.

    Me Check out how the articles have deteriorated.

    []

Category: Meta psihoza
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5 Responses

  1. FWIW, "word of mouth" is, and always was, the premiere and ideal form of marketing, at least in my experience/training. The problems start when a society becomes so commercialized and so perverted that it separates why "word of mouth" matters from inciting, and even forcing, it to occur.

    The social media craze only further perverts this. "Likes" and "Hits" and "Stars" and "Rank" do the same. SEO, in its current form, does as well. The joke is in the name after all, as SEO is the search engine's job now isn't it?

    "No such thing as bad press" perverts this. Sex tapes, Brangelina, "experts", "guerrilla marketing", etc. Word-of-mouth becomes mouth of words.

    "Word of mouth" becomes a construct as much as the oblivious marketers and delusionists wish it to be; and as much as the ignorant, apathetic, and complacent masses allow it to be. Trustworthy reputation gets beaten into submission and reputation becomes a measure of quantity not quality.

    It's no surprise that awareness is a rarity when most are smothered in smoke and mirrors. The "true" marketing ideals are still being taught, the words still exist on paper, but I have no idea how teachers are currently interpreting them.

    I can tell you most businesses I've dealt with (as a provider of marketing-related services) pushed very hard to play the game in all its perverse glory. Convincing them otherwise required a level of educating, deprogramming, and outright psychotherapy that it would break anyone after a while. Alas, that breakage probably mostly results in giving the customer exactly what they want, for better for worse. They are always right after all!

    As an aside, I'll share that my favorite two sayings to have on my meeting room whiteboard were:

    1. The bait must suit the fish, not the angler.
    2. Keep it simple, stupid.

    Those two concepts were basically first steps to determining whether I could help a client. I realize there are "perverse" ways to interpret those lines too, but mostly they served to establish whether I could get a client to trust that I was the professional, and they were the ones asking for help, a challenge in itself.

  2. Same as December 2009? Where's the progress! Nothing ever changes on the webz?

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    3
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 22 March 2014

    @ThickAsThieves I guess maybe not all marketeers are rapists.

    In the sense that those who actually aren't eventually quit.

    @Anon Well progress. There's no progress but there's change. Romania went from the vast majority of traffic to a vaguely present minority, for instance. Windows also fell off the top spot. But otherwise, if you consider 235k out of a total language population of maybe 20mn should rank way above 240k out of a total language population of something like 1bn...

  1. [...] Awstats and stuff [...]

  2. [...] just so happens", right ? It was "an error" or something. Fine. Here's a quote from an older article, that's quite the most important thing before us today : This is a massive part of the problem : [...]

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