It is possible for your blog to end up looking pretty badly. In fact, Alec Couros poked a little fun at our development of web content during his keynote address on the weekend. He talked about people who created webpages at Geocities in years gone by and had the compulsory animated GIFs to add content to the page. I smiled when he made that remark and demonstrated something using the Wayback Machine. The reason for the smile was the fact that one of my popular workshops at the time included showing participants how to create animated GIFs from scratch. It seemed compulsory at the time that people included something like that on their pages. I used to warn people who would do the same activity with students to not confuse these things as actual content.
Flash forward to today where we’re not using Geocities as a host anymore.
Some of the elements of “design” that people learned from GeoCities lives on in contemporary platforms like the modern blog. I know that visiting some blogs look more like comic books than deliverers of thoughts or contents. Things spinning here, flashing there, and help us, periodic sounds.
My personal take is that you’re visiting the blog for the thoughts and comments of the author and not to see some sort of spinning multi-media distraction showcase. I think it should be quite evident when you get to a blog just where the blog is! Unfortunately, in some cases, you have to dig past the advertising, sponsorships, widgets, and just plain noise. Now, on this blog, I do have some widgets (you’ll see them off to the right) which I hope that people can use for additional navigation and information through the site. On the backend, when you log in as an administrator, there is a complete set of analytics. I like periodically going through the analytics to find out more about my visitors. Beyond just numbers, I find it helpful to know “where” people are coming from, “what” page that they hit first, and “what kind” of browser they’re using when they got here.
For a long time, I’ve played around with Feedjit on webpages and wikis and it does exactly what I want without the obnoxious spinning and flashing and advertising. Since this blog is on wordpress.com instead of a self-hosted wordpress, the option wasn’t available and I just gave up on the concept.
Until about a week ago.
I was reading a blog (can’t remember which one now) and I noticed that there was a Feedjit on it so I went back to do some digging and found that there is a special version that they claim will run everywhere. Now, I don’t know how long this has been available but I’m glad that it is. It’s probably not of interest to anyone but me so I’ve put it way down at the bottom. Since my blog posts aren’t long, you’ve probably never noticed. If you have seen it, you’ve probably seen this. It’s a summary of who has visited the site. Chances are, you’re at the top of the list.
But, that’s just the “ego” interface. “Wow, you had someone from Toronto, Canada visit your blog”! Yep, I did.
Now, by itself, that’s not what I’m looking for. There is an option to view details about the folks and how they got there. If you watch the feed live, you get the good stuff.
This is what I’m looking for. What operating system are people using. It looks like this capture indicated that visitors are using Windows XP and Windows 7. Browser? At this moment in time, it’s Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. The actual landing link appears to the right. For all my thoughful postings, it’s something about Wordles that capture the interest of folks. I can now take a look and see what that post was about. It turns out that it dealt with analyzing the content of a Wordle. Interesting.
It’s this sort of analysis that I personally find interesting. Hopefully, it’s placed so far down the page that you won’t be annoyed by its placement. I think working with the analytics of a blog has great potential in the classroom as well. It does allow students to dig a little deeper into what makes blogging such an important activity to include in their publishing efforts. In the computer science classroom, the source code of the page is a nice text page that just begs a program be written to rip it apart and analyze the contents.
As I wrap this entry to a close, I’m smiling thinking that I may have rambled on long enough that you may see the real Feedjit to the right. Sorry! In case you’re interested, I appear in the list as coming from Harrow, Canada.
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