Friday, December 25, 2015

Field notes: Proudly answering none of your pressing questions

Browsing through old posts and statistics, one thing that jumped out is that a fair chunk of traffic comes from people seeking answers to questions I specifically don't answer.  Examples:
  • Information age: Not dead yet was a reply to someone else's blog post, arguing that you couldn't really say when an "age" began or ended, and in any case "ages" tend to overlap rather than each new age supplanting the last.  If you came there searching for "When did the information age begin/end?", as several people have, you may be disappointed.
  • Off topic: Welcome to the new decade was, well, first of all, off topic.  It's a pet peeve of mine that people will argue that everybody gets some fine point of usage wrong, in this case when decades start.  Somewhere I ran across someone's argument that a decade is just a block of ten years and you can start one whenever you want, and that clicked.  I really should have linked to wherever I read that, but then, I doubt it was their original idea either.  In any case, if you landed there looking to settle a bar bet about whether 2010 was the first year of a new decade, you may be disappointed.
  • Now what happened to my bookmarks? Was further speculation on a previous post about why I no longer found myself using my browser's bookmark feature so much and never really ended up doing much with deli.cio.us (Remember them? They still seem to be around, actually, under plain delicious.com).  Naturally, pretty much anyone who ended up there was searching for help in recovering lost browser bookmarks.  I added some links for that up at the top a few years back, and even updated them a couple of times, but I have no idea if they're still useful.  As I said, I don't really use bookmarks myself anymore.
  • "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean" is the most popular Field Notes post of all time.  I'm not sure exactly what brought people to it -- the bulk of the activity seems to have scrolled off the easy-to-find summaries -- but it's just a rant on an annoying customer service involving spectacular overuse of boilerplate macros.  If you were thinking Alice in Wonderland, you would probably have given up a little past the title.
Two of these are genuine Field Notes posts -- analysis of things webby.  But those are the two that people seem to land on mainly in search of something else.  The other two, that is, the ones people might end up on more-or-less on purpose (depending on what was driving traffic to the last one), don't really convey what this blog is mostly about.  Of those two, the one that people probably land on looking for questions doesn't really answer the question.

And I'm not even disappointed.  To the contrary, there's something in all this that's deeply reflective of the web as I understand it.

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