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It appears people reblogged that last post of mine. I don’t know if they realised it was a blog post for a media course but there it goes, into the blue nowhere.
(This is another one. Whatever else I post today or tomorrow will probably fall under that heading too.)
Normally, the content I produce stays right where I leave it, but this time someone, somewhere, who isn’t my tutor, read it. Voluntarily. People took the time to share it and add a comment about how they were reblogging for the picture mostly (faith in humanity rising). However little is read or distributed beyond myself and my networks, a whole lot is produced. If I ever do anything interesting with my life the record of my youth and beyond is going to be dragged up from the depths of my Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and a bunch of old Myspaces, Xangas, etc I have attempted to delete or hide. I google myself every so often to perform image-reconnaissance and have found digital petitions I signed when I was around 10 to get rid of Bonsai Kitten or save the rainforest or something. That’s a solid record of my life, actions, feelings, beliefs, hopes, fears, and problems over the last seven years; the tumultuousity (now a word) of mid-to-late teens and young adulthood.
That doesn’t even consider what kind of data third parties are recording, but here were are, living life as data among data. Doesn’t it just seem so much easier than real life? There are rules for online communication that strike me as so much clearer than the rules of social etiquette which, above all, require live performance. Maybe that’s why so many of us prefer to do our socialising online. The restraints of temporality and location are minimized, replaced by restrictions of network access, with an increased compulsion to moderate oneself in the reality of automatic logging.
What we interpret in daily physical interactions, we interpret through sights, sounds: information we perceive. What we interpret online is nonetheless information, but in the form of raw data. Take the number of hits your page gets, determine where they came from and how long was spent there, whether they stayed on your site, followed a link of yours, commented, and track where else they go online. Watch who shares, likes, retweets, reblogs, reports, complains about, or links to your content. See how it’s remixed. Interpret those numbers, and suddenly we’ve quantified social relations.
This is what I believe to be my most popular tweet. It was favourite by 5 people and retweeted 10 times, including once by Derryn Hynch. The current total followers of myself and all retweeters is 31,672, so when I tweeted it on March 30th it might have had a potential reach of ~27,000 twitterers and might have been seen by ~2000 people (both estimates). I doubt anything I’ve ever communicated has had that reach. People facebooked me to tell me about it. It was exciting and a little disconcerting, in the same way as the reblogging of my last post.
We can map our distribution simply using a number of tools, some of which are ridiculous. Klout rates your content’s popularity and it is so, so douchey, but aren’t you just aching to see your number? I have so far resisted. I have, however, used Klouchebag to determine that I was a bit of a douchebag but have now been downgraded to a bit of a prat. More serious analytic tools include Google Analytics, Clicky, Piwik, and Site Meter, and I expect I’ll use them if my traffic seems to pick up, but right now I’m pretty comfortable with the knowledge that it’s mainly my friends who are interested in what I distribute online.