Well, I think I’ve run the gamut of delirious yay-I’m-writing posts and self-motivational Tuesday teasers, at least for now, so I thought I’d do something new. And since I’ve gotten questions on this subject from a few people (not that I’m claiming to be anywhere near approaching an expert on it– almost any writer with a blog and a manuscript on sub knows just as much or more about this as I do, I’d bet) on that most wonderful facet of the new digital age, i.e., Spying On Each Other For Fun, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about page taggers.
They’re evil. Really.
Mostly if you’re querying, particularly if you’re on sub… maybe not so much if you’re just moseying along thinking about joining the madness like yours truly, but even then it’s still weirdly addictive. Stuff like this is extremely useful if you’re trying to figure out how to drive traffic to certain posts, addictively panic-inducing if you’re waiting to hear back from an agent or an editor, and mainly a point of curiosity, in that rubbernecking can’t-look-away-from-the-car-accident sense of the phrase, if you’re like me and no longer trying to do much beyond bellow off into the Great Void of Teh Interwebs every now and then because it’s kind of fun. In a world where we’re constantly learning about/becoming outraged by Facebook’s latest means of data mining and Apple’s hidden aps, being informed about how and when someone’s gathering data on your web activities is never a bad thing.
So. Enter Statcounter, which is one of several options poor peons like me have for our blogs and websites.
–If you’re wondering (you’re probably not, I know), Statcounter’s basically just a way of augmenting the information a platform like WordPress will already give you about the way people get to your site, what they look at while they’re there, how long they stay, etc. Depending on a person’s ISP and browser security settings, among various other things, this info can be very basic or surprisingly –sometimes frighteningly– specific. The first time I realized an idle IP address search could, in rare (hopefully very rare) cases, give me an aerial view of someone’s street, I think I avoided the web for a week or two in sheer spiky-haired horror while I reviewed everything I could remember about my own search history.
Anyway. It’s important to know what a page tagger like this can do, because it means something other than hey, my blog’s weirdly popular in Pakistan this month! –it means many of the sites you click on are gathering information about you the moment you do click on them.
…Yes, I did just state the obvious there in a big way.
At least, I think it’s obvious to most of us these days. But just a few years ago I could never have imagined how completely public everything on the internet really is, how rare and difficult to achieve anonymity is… so just ignore me, you internet-savvy peoples of the world.
It’s largely harmless, IMO, but it’s still kind of disturbing to know that if you’re, say, googling someone you know IRL regularly, for whatever personal reasons you likely weren’t planning on announcing to said someone, there’s at least a pretty decent chance they know about it. Facebook stalkers take note!
So, yeah. Think about what you say, but also think about bout what you click. There’s a record of all of it out there somewhere.