Monday, March 12, 2007

The Haunted Fish Tank

Scientists tell us a goldfish has a memory that lasts only three seconds; how they figured that one out, I don’t know. Did they sit and talk to a goldfish, ask it questions, while holding a stopwatch?

I am beginning to wonder if some Internet users have the attention span of a goldfish.

I have a little thing on this blog called Statcounter. It gives me useful information on people visiting this blog.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t tell me who you are, where you live, or what you had for dinner last night. However, it does tell me how you arrived here, search keywords used and how long you stayed once you got here.

Many people arrive here via a Google search, and what I find frustrating as hell strange is when people ask a specific question, arrive on the page that has the exact answer, and stay less than three seconds.

For example, one recent visitor got here by using these keywords “replacing tube lugged bike.” Which led him to this page. There on the screen before his very eyes, step by step instructions on how to replace a tube in a lugged frame. Length of visit: 0 seconds. Anything under three seconds registers as zero.

“What bike frame size for my height?” is a question that gets Googled many times, and will land you on this page. You would think the words “Frame Sizing” in the title would be a clue to a person that maybe they had landed on a page that might have some answers for them. Length of visit: 0 seconds.

I could go on and on, but I’ll just do one more. “Centering side pull brakes” will land you here. Simple instructions, 107 words and 2 photographs. The only way it could be any easier would be if I came round to your house and showed you how to do it. Length of visit: 0 seconds.

In my native England, we sometimes refer to the television as “The haunted fish tank.” I think that name would be more apt for the PC. The only difference is the fish are on the outside, looking in. Maybe some people really do have the attention span of a goldfish, and by the time they click from Google to here, they have forgotten the question.

The Internet is supposed to make us smarter, sometimes I wonder. The information is there, but until scientists come up with a USB cable that plugs directly into our brain, it requires that we read the information to benefit from it.

In writing this piece, I came to realize this strange aspect of human behavior is really a metaphor for life. The answer to any question, any problem we may have in life is right there within ourselves. The Universal Intelligence, which is our intelligence, knows the answer.

We search for answers, but then we try too hard to find the solution. Instead of slowing down and allowing ourselves to see what is often before our very eyes, we click away and continue searching elsewhere.


VintageSpin said...

The last couple of paragraphs really agree with me.
I know of people that bumble among many irrational beliefs and ideas and rationalize (are they really?) by saying: "Who knows?" which means "You don't know nor does anyone else."
That kind of attitude negates developing their intuition, listening/trusting themselves, but creates a dependence on others to tell them what to think about everything.
And you really don't lean if you read something without thinking about it critically.
That takes time.
To them the search is all there is in life, simply because there are so many 'answers' out there they wouldn't want to miss any, so move on to the next.

FigBug said...

I think what a 0 second visit means is that the visitor only loaded one page. I believe stat counter times visits by measuring the time between the first page load to the last page load. So 1 page, equals a 0 second visit. So, if somebody comes to your blog, finds the info they need, why are they going to look around more?

Kent Peterson said...

While there certainly are folks with short attention spans, stat counter, site meter and their ilk don't always tell the whole story. I wouldn't swear to it but various browser caching schemes, proxies, feedburner and all kinds of other internet voodoo can meant that while your report only shows a 0 second visit, eyeballs may have been gazing at in your prose for far longer. Here's a sort of bad analogy: I can buy "Prodigal Child" off Amazon in just a couple of minutes, but it takes me longer than that to actually read the book.

Anonymous said...

just read your opinion on male mixte riders and thought maybe I'd ride mine over and beat you down with my purse (full of quarters)

Coelecanth said...

Figbug is correct. If they only load one page stat counter can't tell how long they were on for and it comes up as a 0.

The internet isn't a continuous stream like TV. The page the reader's looking at is a download that's static on their computer. Unless they refresh or click to another page the host where they got the page from isn't connected at all to the viewer's computer.

The last page someone gets from your blog could sit on their screen for hours and there's no way for you to tell.

I'm not sure I explained this very well.

Dave Moulton said...

Thank you all for correcting me on this one. I’m just glad I didn’t go off on a full blown rant, but rather I tried to turn it into something both humorous and positive.

Doug said...

I started up a statcounter account for my blog about 10 days ago. I first heard of it when you mentioned it awhile back. For something that's free it sure gives you quite a bit of info. I've found two or three people find there way to my site everyday from a link on your blog. Thanks Dave