Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Syphilitic Nature of Blogging (Part Two)

I’ve just had the curious experience of stalking a stalker.

A while ago a friend gave my blog a nice plug on her blog. Afterwards she asked if I'd noticed an increase in traffic. I explained that, unless someone left a blog comment or emailed me, I'd absolutely no idea if there's been any traffic at all.

Following said friend's advice I installed a Statcounter.

On the first day I was astonished to see I’d had twenty-nine visitors to my blog, that's twenty-nine.

Statistic counters tell you a lot more than how many visits your site has received. You can learn where in the universe the visitor was when they viewed pages, the IP address of their computer, which pages they viewed, how long they lingered and what in particular they did whilst they were visiting (in terms of searching, downloading images and leaving comments, I mean; not what they were actually doing whilst they were looking).

When I investigated the visitor paths it was obvious that all my visitors were, sadly, me.

I’d logged in to correct spelling mistakes, I’d logged in to adjust paragraph spacing, I’d logged in because I’d decided, after long deliberation, to replace obtained with got, to be more faithful to my roots, and so on…

To begin with, checking your visitor numbers is a little bit addictive.

‘One visitor! From Plano, Texas! Yay!’

‘How did they find you?’

‘They did a Google search for ‘Doktor Hotfingers’.’

'Great Cripes*! That's Smashing.'

'I know.'

‘And how long did they linger?’

‘Well, only 0 seconds, but they came, and they saw. It’s A Start.’

'It certainly is just that, A Start.'

Last night I check the Statcounter – sure enough, I’ve visited myself aplenty. I’ve also currently got another visitor; someone on a computer in Glasgow.

Gratified, I take a few moments to look at the visitor number(s) for my other, newer blog. The blog where I’m keeping pieces of my (proper) writing; when I say pieces, I mean piece. There’s one (Joint) award winning poem there at the moment, and a self-important meme and something my daughter pointed out to me that still makes me laugh.

When I return to the statistics for this blog there are several more page loads showing…

It’s that same Glasgow visitor; still looking. Page to page, He (I’m picturing a He) loiters over postings and moves on. He follows the link to my (Joint) award winning poem then returns to my Second person and research post and downloads a photograph. That photograph of Ellie fancy-dressed up as the Tin Man. Already disorientated, I start to wonder if I should feel uneasy.

This is absurd. For months I’ve been effectively saying.

‘Here! Over here. Listen, listen to this!’

‘You, yes you - look at this! I’m dead funny, me.’

And here I am feeling uncomfortable because somebody is doing as they’re told, He’s reading my words, checking out my poem and He's downloading a photo of my twenty year old dressed in silver leggings.

For thirty minutes I watch in snowballing horror as (in my head) the drug-addled pervert in his seedy tenement riffles through my stuff. I want to shout at him.

‘Oi you! Yes you - Deviant-Dougal with your swivelly-eyes and your bagpipes. What do you think you're playing at looking at my pictures? Don't think you can get away with this. I’ve got your (Temporary IP) address you know!’

But, as I’ve written before, blogging is such a queasy paradox.

On the one hand I’m self-effacing and I don’t want people to think I’m vulgar or pushy; on the other hand I’d sell my foot to a transplant surgeon if I thought it would encourage a readership.

Vulgar and pushy wins out every time, of course.

I start to rationalise that it probably isn’t a pervy druggie who is working His way through the pages. It’s most likely a nice lady who is interested in poems; She
, Fragrant-Fiona, is doubtless a Kelvindale matron searching for fancy dress ideas for her own grown daughter.

In light of this edifying insight I’ve started to wonder if it might be a good idea to use Ellie in her Tim Man outfit as my blog banner. If that’s what people demand, scantily dressed... no, I mean fancy dress outfit tips, so be it.

Incidentally, I don't really think blogging is like syphilis, have a look at The Syphilitic Nature of Blogging (Part One) for how I arrived at the title. In the comments for that post my reader suggests that the dysphemism 'self abuse' is a more accurate analogy and, naturally, she is right.

Thank you AGAIN, James Fraser, for the Tin Man image. The soundtrack accompanying the slideshow of his doodles at that link are James and David Wright playing Anouman by Django Reinhardt. Incidently, David and his band, New Zealand Story, have a new album called Show Your Workings.

Check out the witty Madeleine York at Déjà view: television reviews & analysis, I like her blog.

*My new favourite expletive comes from Flann O' Brien. I've been listening to Jim Norton reading The Third Policeman. Listening to The Third Policeman half makes me want to give up writing altogether and half makes me want to plagiarise all his best phrases. Three guesses which I'll choose.


Sandy Calico said...

Ooh, I've got one of those site counter things on my blog. I had someone (not me) visit my blog 10 times a day for two weeks recently. It's another blogger, but what was she doing? Sometimes it's best not to know.
I read your poem Kim. Awesome. x

kim mcgowan said...

It was probably me, Sandy.

Just realised I’d spelt syphilitic incorrectly in my blog title - that'll mean another dozen pretend page loads clocked for all the sign-ins it takes me to sort it out…

Dunno about that, but thanks for saying so. All that sadness damped down inside for over twenty years finally found expression; there is nothing else to say really.


Susan said...

I've got a counter but I don't think it gives me their shoe size and hair colour like yours does. Like Sandy says its best not to know sometimes, although now I'm tempted to get one like yours so I can be a stalker too!

kim mcgowan said...

It's excellent, Susan, if you have a lot of Very Importants things to do and you're looking for displacment activities...

Calistro said...

Hee! I found your blog by looking at MY BLOG'S webstats!

I know what you mean about getting obsessed with your stats. Someone (and I have a pretty good idea who it is) has looked at my website over 160 times. I think (hope) he's harmless though!

Sometimes having a statcounter is very exciting - like when I noticed that Universal Picture and Paramount had googled me from LA (though a film deal still hasn't materialised ;)), at other times it can be downright disturbing. But such is the nature of the web I guess!

kim mcgowan said...

hi Calistro

I'm sure that film proposal is just in the post.

Maybe we're one vast web of bloggers all warily stalking each other?

It keeps us off the streets; we'd only be out spraying bus shelters and other bad stuff if we weren't cyber-stalking.


Susan said...

Hi Kim, I've put one of your stat thingies on mine now so I can keep a tab on stalkers too. Won't it be disapointing if I don't get any now. I will be most upset.

kim mcgowan said...

How thrilling Susan! Remember, just because the stalker is stalking you from a Preston address and is lingering over images of your onion and chilli wreath it doesn't necessarily mean it's me...