David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
My Bovary Moment

May 22, 2021

The beauty of analytics is data. The danger of analytics is data.

I stopped using the analytics portion of this website years ago for anything more than just an occasional glance at what blogs have been accessed from where. I am very popular overseas, although I suspect Artificial Intelligence is behind all of those, since they rarely do much more than check the home page. Needless to say, usually the most current blog has the greatest one-day hits, but I find a certain fascination when old pages are randomly accessed from all over the world. 

Within that scenario, I have had a few big hits:

"The Geeks Don't Want No Greeks" -- March 9, 2015;

"Strat-O-Matic College Game" -- March 11, 2013;

"Day 22: The Go-Go's (Forget That Day)"-- May 18, 2020.

If I had any better clue about successful use of keywords, I could replicate this. Unfathomably, my Go-Go's post here, one in the chain of the never-completed "Pandemic Panoply", shows up as basically the fourth hit on the first page of a Google search.  Somehow it is above SongMeanings, AZ Lyrics, and the Wikipedia page for Talk Show, the album featuring "Forget That Day." How many obsessive Go-Go fans have mistakenly hit on my page, hoping for the brilliance --creative or visual--of The Go-Go's and instead got my ramblings? (Well, at least one, as it produced my first fan mail in several years.)

The Strat-O-Matic post features just three key words ("Strat-O-Matic," "college," and "university"), as I clearly couldn't give a rat's ass that day.  Yet, when you combine the game title with college, the post shows up on the second search page. I figure a lot of college kids looking for like-minded Strat-O-Matic players are disappointed when my link offers them nothing but a cranky old academic, the very thing they want to escape through the game.

"The Geeks Don't Want No Greeks" repeatedly gets hits. Not necessarily one of my finer pieces (when desperate, turn to song parodies), if someone does a search for The Eagles' "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks" combined with "fraternities," my parody blog is the first hit. Who knows how many frat brothers have exited off the page as fast as they could shoot a 12-ouncer? "The Geeks Don't Want No Greeks" page does have an exit rate of 92.48%; trust me, this is one of those times you don't want what looks like an "A" score.

I mention all of this because "Look At That Cow. . . In The Field" (June 20, 2017) got its first hit yesterday since that June. And while the hit came from China, the time spent on the page suggests an actual human, not some commie program meant to influence elections or undermine good-old American values. Made me wonder what strange combination of keywords in the search brought it to someone's attention. I must have had some serious intentions with this one:

cow herds
group dynamics
complex systems science

Now I am picturing some earnest Chinese grad student, maybe in agriculture, maybe in math, all excited that their combination of "cow herds, "research" and "chaos" all brought them to a source whose highlights include a Morrissey reference in the title, bad puns ("cow loafing"), and ultimately a pretty weak connection to student behavior. How quickly I go from overestimating my impact on bovine research, my Bovary moment, to realizing that all I probably did was piss off some already brain-dead 22-year old looking for one last source for his or her bibliography.

I think I should give my website a sub-heading: davidflemingsite.com--the destination site for the disappointed.