Sunday, 4 March 2012

Pageviews and Perversion

‘Okay, Hannibal. Give it to me straight. I can handle it. I’ve been blogging my head off for a month. Now how are my ‘stats’?
            ‘Your stats are a gem, Dedushka! You’re doing beautiful!’
            ‘I seem to remember that’s the last thing they told the captain before the Titanic hit some hard reality. Facts, my boy! I need cold facts and details.’
            ‘Aye aye, me captain! I printed it out for you. Lemme see… Over the last month you published 28 posts. You got 895 pageviews - that’s people taking a look at a post. There were 28 comments, some of them your own replies of course. And you captured three followers!’
            ‘What the f… are followers? You mean stalkers?’
            ‘Don’t be daft, Dedushka! Followers are superb. They are people that take out a permanent link to your web activity and immediately see everything which you do on your blog.’
            ‘Sounds like the bloody Stasi to me… Who are these freaks?’
           ‘Well, one of them is your buddy Colin Davies, of course. He also keeps plugging you on that Thoughtful in Galilee blog he does daily. Very helpful. Then there is someone called Timothy Holt-Wilson. I googled him up. He’s a Brit too, from a place called Diss. Guy as tall as the Tour Montparnasse. Six feet three in his stockings and he’s engaged in treasure hunting on the Mousehold Heath near Norwich. Fifty-three years old. Fluent French and a sprinkling of Scandinavian languages. In the last three elections he voted---’
          ‘That’ll do! Let’s stick to Need To Know, shall we? Who’s the third?’
         ‘Mysterious person with an unpronounceable 15 letter name. Couldn’t dig up too much about him or her so far. Seems to come from Austria. Married with children. The family’s engaged in organic farming somewhere up north in Galicia. I did track down what they planted last autumn and how the crop is coming along… But am I wrong or am I losing you?’
         ‘You are. Plants are somniferous. So those are my followers, huh? Bizarre trio. But I welcome them. Be they the pioneers that guide the mass migration into my promised land! After all, three followers in as many weeks… That’s pretty good, right?’
        ‘Not… particularly, godfather. If the truth be told… It’s the least successful part of the operation…’
            ‘What are you telling me boy? That I’m a failure?’
            ‘No, not at all! I only mean your other triumphs are…well, so much more triumphant!’
            ‘You’re scoring an average of 40 pageviews a day of late! No matter what you publish! Only yesterday you got 50 for that awkward Aioli piece. Any time anybody mentions your blog on Facebook the counter shoots way over 50. You got 68 pageviews on the 10th, will you believe it?’
            ‘What piece for?’
            ‘Can’t tell. Various I suppose. But I do have numbers for the total score of the separate titles. Wanna hear?’
            ‘Do you think I’m here to admire your honey-sweet voice?’
‘Alright… Hold your horses. The most popular one was the Book of Burning Questions.’
            ‘THAT flimsy thing? That did best??’
            ’51 pageviews! Came in way ahead of the Home Made Mayo recipe. That one scored 41. Then there’s a whole lot of nothing, and then on third you find this Homo Homeless Luckless piece, with 28.’
            ‘I’m not surprised about the Mayo piece. People love Mayo as they should. It always makes you new friends. But I’m a little miffed so few Greeks looked at Homo Homini. I stuck my neck out for them… Who knows what Brussels will do to me in revenge?’
            ‘Well, that’s to say…’
            ‘There eh… were no Greeks, Dedushka…’
            ‘There were no Greeks?’
            ‘Not a single one… But it’s not ALL bad news… There were no views from Belgium either. So the Brussels mob didn’t notice either! You can sleep quietly at night.’
            ‘There were no Greeks?’
            ‘I’m sorry…’
‘And no Brussels either? The rogues didn’t even read it??’
            ‘What can I say, Godfather? You said you wanted facts… Oh come on, Dedushka! Don’t cry! I can’t stand elderly people crying! It always reminds me of Bambi…’
            ‘You do not understand, my boy… The shame of it! The disillusion! At the end of a long harsh life a man wants to leave something behind… Something solid… Something lasting… Something he can point at and say: “There! That is what I did! I made a difference… My life was not in vain…” They already banished the whole edition of my Collected Works to Malaysia, where not a bloody soul will ever buy it. And now this! Not even my blog is read by those it is meant to help and offend!’
            ‘But others did read it, Dedushka! They do too. You can’t imagine. Not just the UK and the USA and Spain… But from all over the globe! The weirdest places. Here: look at this list!’

Hong Kong
United Arab Emirates

         ‘Now ain’t that awesome? You almost got a better audience that Ban Ki Moon when he’s shining!’
            ‘How come?’
            ‘How come he’s shining?’
            ‘No. How come someone from Nigeria, or Georgia, or Hong Kong – of all lost places - stumbles upon my blog? I mean: what’s it to them? What Iraqi is interested in Home Made Mayo? Or in the riddle of the chicken and the egg? Don’t they have other things on their minds down there? Most of them are at WAR!’
            ‘Why, I don’t know, Dedushka… I guess they fed some particular term into a search machine and then Google or Yahoo pointed them to your blog because you used the word.’
            ‘You mean to tell me that the search machines are working now?’
            ‘They do. They do beautifully. It merely took them a while to pick up your postings.’
            ‘I haven’t the faintest. Ask Ivana. She knows about those things.’
            ‘Can’t. For some funny reason your sister won’t talk to me of late. Must be hormones. Hell hath no fury, as they say. But back to the pressing matter in hand. Random words bring random visitors.’
            ‘So… What words? What words are the best to use so as to built up the sort of audience that Alfred B. Mittington deserves?’
            ‘Who knows? Bad words, I suppose. You remember this one piece you did, called A Fellow from Philae?’
            ‘Just an endless dialogue that said next to nothing. But it did very well for a very long time. Wanna know why?’
            ‘Do I look like I have eternal life?’
            ‘I think it did so well because you mentioned Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler at the end of it. You remember, don’t you? You threatened to-‘
            ‘I remember! But that’s perverse. Those words had nothing to do with the deeper meaning of the piece.’
            ‘Even so, Dedushka… That’s how it works on the web.’
            ‘Evil words lead to success; good words lead into the desert…?’
            ‘Pretty much…’
            ‘I refuse to accept that! Man is Good at heart!’
            ‘That may have been. It ain’t so no longer. The Stone Age has come and gone. Modern times are here to stay…’
            ‘Rubbish! You can change the world but you can’t change human nature. I believe in Man. And Woman! We shall do an experiment.’
            ‘Dedushka, are you sure you wanna waste-’
            ‘A scientific experiment! Tomorrow and the day after, we will publish two separate sets of random words. Good ones and bad ones. Then Wednesday we study the stats to see which of the two attracted most readers. I have no doubt that Good will prevail!’
            ‘Yes, Dedushka.’
            ‘Gloom is of all ages. Pessimism has always blinded our perception to the splendour that is the human spirit. We must Hope and Believe against the gales of defeatism that sweep over us from every corner of the taiga!’ 
            ‘Of course, Dedushka. So, are we done? Can I have that illustrated Kama Sutra now?’
            ‘In the kitchen cupboard. It is all yours for the weekend. But for the love of God: don’t let your parents see it! They’re over 40! They’ll die a merciless death if it falls into their hands, even if it is a happy one.’

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