Saturday, April 26, 2014

Google and Blog Stats

     I hate to descend into mere technicalities, especially in public.  Especially, when I must confess that I do not understand those technicalities -- it leads directly to uncertainty, and this is an uncertain post.  But here goes.

     I have had, and have enjoyed using, the platform of this blog for a little more than three years.  It has been totally free, both to me and to those who happen by here, and for that I am grateful.  Grateful to Google, I guess, and to the larger world of the Internet, of which the former Vice President, Mr. Albert Gore, is reputed to be the founding father.  So, special thanks to Google and Gore.

     However, I would like to mention a concern, or several concerns, that I, and presumably other independent bloggers, continually face. The first concern is the fact that I -- we -- are at the mercy of the common software and "infrastructure." A second concern is that we are at the (very arbitrary) mercy of the controllers of that infrastructure.

     Now it is certainly true that a system as valuable, effective, and global as the Internet, and even the small subset of that system that is familiarly called "the blogosphere," exists only because it was carefully developed, and is carefully maintained, by an army of dedicated specialists -- and this implies, indeed rquires, some degree of control.  I fully recognize that, and I salute them here: Technicians and communications visionaries, I salute you.

     But a problem arises when, and because, that system, both ideal and practical, is -- simply by virtue of being a sort of "communications commons" -- subject to the vagaries and troubles that any "commons" faces.  Such public commons (as happened in the case of the the old common grounds that were popular in the planning of early American towns and cities) may be more or less ruined by such simple human inevitabilities as ignorance, disregard, overuse, and continual carelessness.  Or that ruin may be hastened by the more intentional (and not, therefore, "inevitable") factors of greed, grabbing for attention, or exercise of obscured power -- psychological, financial, or legal -- "whether sought or unsought," to use the famous phrase of President Eisenhower in his farewell address of January, 1961, in which he warned the American people of the dangerous rise of what he called a "military-industrial complex."

     The sober fact is, that the Internet is older than the existence of Google or the influence of Mr. Gore.    Despite its free and free-wheeling appearance (which I appreciate), with its popularity and sense of democracy, it was developed by an entity called "DARPA" (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). This "Agency" has always been as much a part of the military-industrial complex as the supposedly "civilian" National Aeronautics and Space Administration (whose acronym, NASA, was said by some of its appointed overseers in Congress, in the 1960s, to stand for "Never A Straight Answer"), or the also "civilian" National Defense Interstate Highway System, which can be legally converted to strict military use by the drop of an Executive Order upon the "finding" of a national emergency.

     What, you may fairly ask, does this have to do with the technicalities of "blog stats" that were mentioned in my title?  (Meaning simply my blog stats, since they are the only ones I know.)

     This:  the numbers don't add up, and never have.  Also this:  they are un-natural, and getting worse.

     First of all, the numbers don't add up.  On an average day, my blog receives a very modest 30 or so "hits," from several countries around the world.  I know this because my blog-statistics page tells me so. Of these 30 or so hits, only a part -- a fraction, maybe 10 to 20 -- are identified as to where they come from, and to what post or page they linked.  What about the other hits?  How am I to know what posts are popular, and where?  I don't know; and as far as I know, I can't know; and furthermore, I don't know why I don't know.

     Some of the numbers are credible.  Throughout the history of this blog, monthly totals have consistently ranged from as high as 1500 or more on three or four occasions,to as low as 500 on two others, and this seems to me natural, meaning pleasantly random and to be expected.  (It is a separate matter, which I find odd, that Google thinks that I started my blog in 2007, when I actually started it in 2010.  It makes up for this by "skipping years" on its graph displaying my reported monthly activity.  Okay, just a glitch.)

     But is this natural?  Three years ago, back in January of 2011, I wrote a forgettable little post called, "You've Got To Check Out This Site."  (Don't bother to check it out.)  In the following three years, Google reported about 500 hits to this post, which would average less than 20 per month.  Suddenly, in the present month of April, 2014, Google has registered over 3200 hits to this post in one month.

     Oh, really.  Random folks from around the world suddenly found my site and are profoundly interested (about 160 times as interested as before) in this one old very-difficult-to-randomly-find post, while not particularly caring about any of the 200 others.  Amazing.  But hey, what's not to like?  My hit-count is up, from the usual thousand or less, to a marvellous over 4,000!!  I'm so excited!  I'm popular now!  I'm having an impact!

     I have no idea what is causing the appearance of these bogus statistics.  Do you?  Maybe this is only what Benjamin Disraeli, or Mark Twain, or whoever it was, was referring to when he talked about the three kinds of lies -- "lies, damned lies, and statistics."  Maybe it's just another Google glitch. (A very persistent and patterned glitch.)  Maybe Google wants to ramp up my numbers to encourage me to keep blogging. (Clumsy effort at encouragement: I don't believe it.)  Maybe they want to tell me that now that my bandwidth is up because I'm so popular, they need to start charging me for it. ($$$. Nice angle.)  Or maybe it isn't Google.

     The one thing I know is that I don't know, and this bothers me.  As far as I can tell about my abillity to control the other end of the software, I could wake up tomorrow, check out my blog, and find out that "I" had written a post that advocated violence and revolution, or that "I" had "hacked" some secret website, or that "I" had posted links to kiddie porn.  Or, more benignly, my site could simply be closed down.

     As I have watched developments on the internet concerning you-tube, porn-sites, investigative reporters, and security sites, this is a real possibility.  What with backdoors, trapdoors, hackers, false identities, NSA cyber-war, comment-moderation complaints, hate-crime accusations, intellectual-property claims, copyright "infringements," planted evidence, and the rest of the discrediting techniques perfected by our beloved media and our "national security interests," better people than I am have landed in prison.

     This is a risk which any blogger takes, so be advised, whether you are a blogger, a reader, or a commenter.

     Oh, and by the way, you might watch out what is happening on Facebook and Twitter.  Just friendly advice.


  1. Even though I'm leaving this post as "Anonymous," I suppose it could still, with little difficulty be traced back sufficiently to determine who I am, or at least get close enough for a drone.

    It's cute, I suppose when a frisky family member or friend gets on my Facebook account if I happened to still be logged in while they were using my computer -- and then post some sort of obviously false status.

    It's another thing entirely to think of being maliciously hacked. And how is a person to establish innocence?

    "Watch out what is happening on Facebook and Twitter," you advise. What practical steps can a person take to disengage?

    Presumably, I person could create a profile, professing to be me and do/ say all sorts of things. This is a chilling thought. What to do?

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    This is only a partial answer, but here goes:
    Step 1. Just be aware, for yourself, and keep encouraging your correspondents to be aware -- on Facebook, or your blog, and especially in your natural public and private conversations. Our integrity-of-communications IS under a continual assault both by (a) corporate-media-government interference and by (b) the general social climate of the times. Which brings me to . . .
    Step 2. Protect and develop your own personal integrity, your core beliefs and your communications of those beliefs, including . . .
    Step 3. Be willing to develop and change your opinions, even long-held ones, as more revelations are made of the inherent contradictions that are present in (a) the Narrative presented by our social controllers, and (b) the (very) mixed legacy of our common "way of life" that we have accepted, too uncritically, for the last couple of generations.
    That is about as far as I have gotten so far.
    Thanks for responding and raising the questions.