Thursday, October 23, 2008
wondering through google
People arrive at this blog through various means. In what is effectively both a blessing and a curse, I am able to see how people come here via statcounter. This is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. It's a bit like getting a snippet of a conversation but failing to grasp what it's about.
The majority of people come here as 'no referring link'. This means they've bookmarked me. And it's nice that people bookmark me. If you're one of those people I salute you and compliment you on your good taste, ha ha. But you'll have to forgive me for saying that this is not what fascinates me. What has me spellbound are the people who've searched for a topic and had one of my pieces come up in google.
Following on from the last piece and its discussion of the net as a place for those who seek, being privy to what people are looking for (at least when they arrive here) is an enthralling process. Were one higher in the food-chain, like Sergei Brin the owner of Google, I could well imagine it to be intoxicating. Unsurprisingly Google has dreams of creating some kind of Artificial Intelligence. If Ladbrokes were taking bets on it, I'd put my money on that particular venture not ending well. Not for us, anyway. (This and a thousand other things...). In the meantime there's merely me and my glimpse into what people are searching for.
People search for the strangest things. One individual arrived at my recent piece about Curt Maynard and the Apple Onion by searching for 'shat myself'. Um, okay... why not? But other search subjects are real head-scratchers. For these, I will click the google address they came from and see the same page they were looking at that prompted them to click the link to here. I'm just guessing but I expect that a lot of these searchers will be disappointed at what they find, ha ha. Someone searching for 'barber's stool' almost certainly did not want a discussion about fear and repression (or the lack thereof) in China. Never mind, they should feel free to dismiss me.
And then there are the disappearing google pages. I often go to the google page which someone used to arrive here, and I see the terms they searched for and the results they got, and yet this blog is not amongst them. Nor on the next page, nor the next, nor any of them. And yet I know they came to me via that search a few hours earlier. So where did I go in between times? If I re-enter their precise terms and add the word 'nobody', I still don't get me. How does that work? Does it mean anything? Obviously I did turn up in their results and now I don't. Me, I shrug my shoulders.
These are curiosities, sure. But in amongst them are obvious trends. I shall get the biggest and most obvious out of the way first. As such, it is my melancholy duty to inform you that easily the greatest number of people arriving at this blog via google (with daylight second) consists of brain-dead gamers looking for news on when they might re-indulge themselves in more mindless killing - which is to say they search for hitman 5. Hitman is an assassination game, for those who don't know. It's the kind of game that, if it didn't exist, the CIA would have invented it anyway. If the people who did make Hitman weren't funded by the CIA, then they missed out on free money.
Me, I find this ever-increasing avalanche of would-be assassins unfailingly depressing. To be honest it's my own fault. I wrote the piece deliberately to be found in this fashion. I intended to screw with the heads of both the gamers and the people who wrote the game, by way of a mock interview. As best I can make out, I failed. I doubt I made a dent on a single one of their rock-hard skulls. But my timing was something else! I'm guessing that hitman 5 is due out shortly and the gamers are working themselves into a lathered frenzy of anticipation. A whole new world of people to be shot, stabbed, and poisoned! Fantastic!
Absurdly, if you put any variation of 'hitman-latest-news' into google, my imagined interview is top of the page, more or less on it's own. It's also been linked to by two gamer sites, one in Holland and one in Finland. I have no idea what they make of it all, since it's all Greek to me (there's babelfish of course, but it provides information in inverse proportion to comedy). Amongst this brouhaha, I'm vaguely astounded that the creators of the game haven't sent me a cease-and-desist or somesuch. Perhaps they think I'm not worth it. To be honest I don't know what I'd do if they did. Frankly I'm sick of the whole fucking thing. My brain fills with tedious images of cockroaches taking over the earth. For now I leave the article there as an act of bloody-mindedness. If those addicted to assassination games gain nothing from my piece apart from confusion, then fine, long may it continue.
But there are glimpses of hope. I see other trends in searches. Curiously, many are transient. I wonder at these 'waves of interest'. I suspect that google features 'that-which-is-new' and with the passing of time older articles are less likely to pop up - ie. people are constantly interested in a given topic but only found me whilst the article was new. Or it could be that people search in a faddish pattern - ie. google hasn't changed but the people have. I have no idea.
But some topics are perennial. In what I view as a good and useful thing, people continue to be curious about the holocaust. I figure if anyone is going to read about the holocaust they may as well read my take on it. At least it's funny. The other topic that perpetually pops up is that of Amalekites. Me, I'm pleased, because I liked that piece and it seemed that other people grooved on it too. Three cheers. I have no idea if these searchers are religious froot-loops or the right-thinking curious. For me, it's all good.
But by far my favourite searchers, the people I love, are those who come here seeking to know more about selflessness. If this blog was a zombie movie (ha ha), the gamers would be the zombies and those seeking selflessness would be our plucky heroes. Silly cinematic metaphors are the first thing to pop out of my brain, sure, as I roll around what these searches mean. But other thoughts occur too. Firstly, there are people out there who put 'selflessness' into google. They exist. This augurs well and makes me happy. But this happiness is something of a mixed feeling. I wonder if it isn't a variation of Groucho Marx's line about not wanting to be a member of any club who'd have him.
Which is to say that when people search for selflessness, why am I so front and centre? Oughtn't there to be a zillion articles on this? Shouldn't this little blog be 'selflessness' search-page #47? Seems not. Best I can tell is that selflessness is a word that doesn't get much coinage. If they're coming to me, then there ain't much out there, if you can dig it. And then there's the awful thought - They come to me? What the hell would I know? I'm an ex-advertising bullshit-artist who spent a week in a monastery. God spare us. It's sad really. So - I'm happy and I'm sad. Three cheers and commiserations. Still, in amongst the zombified army of the undead it's nice to know that humans live still.