Tuesday, May 15, 2012

i am bored

Monrovia, California

Friday, May 18, 2012

I have no idea what this blog will be about.  It will be an article about the internet that you report on the internet.  That's actually the title of something from “Shouts and Murmurs” in a recent issue of the New Yorker.  I should be so lucky as to write something of that caliber, much less to have it published there.

Outside it’s a rare overcast day in SoCal, as they have an irritating tendency to call it (sounds like an oil company, and in fact at one time this area was pretty much just that), with temperatures expected to rise into the 80s after a cool and comfortable night.  No humidity, to speak of, except in my car when it gets hot outside.  Other than the clouds, the forecast for the next six months is more of the same with gradually rising daytime temperatures.  You could really skip weather reports.  The big events that happen here from time to time, namely earthquakes, are unpredictable in the short term.  In the long run they are inevitable, but that doesn't give the weather people anything to talk about each evening.  Even they seem to have the sense to know this. 

I've mentioned before that there's a web site called Blogger.com which allows me to maintain my blog (free by the way for any of you would-be bloggers).  On it is a feature called “Stats,” which gives information about who accesses the blog.  It's not personal identifying info, so don’t worry about your anonymity.  Just an array of statistics about frequency and location.  To remind you, there are several options—one is called “overview,” which gives the number of times the blog has been viewed, and depending on which box I click I can see how many times the blog has been viewed on that day, during the past week or month, or all-time.  It further breaks down the viewings by number into the top ten blog postings viewed.  Some days and weeks fewer than ten blog postings are visited, but it gives up to ten.  There are other statistics, too, such as the URLs (whatever they are) from which the blog has been accessed. Then there’s another statistical analysis that names the countries from which the blog has been visited, up to the top ten.  I’ve discussed that one before.  I’m pretty sure the majority of the hits from third world and eastern European countries are random, by people trying to sell me something.  People named Dmitri or Jamsheed.  Or Peggy.  Occasionally I’ve used the translator feature to render these comments into English.  It's more like transliteration than translation, and sometimes it's quite bizarre and comical.  Blogger.com seems to have a bias against comments in other languages and segregates them into the spam comment file, where, it turns out, they always belong.  The ones in Polish and languages with Cyrillic alphabets are trying to sell me something or other—sometimes I can’t figure out what because the translation is so convoluted and silly.  Often they're entertaining, taking on the cadences of dadaist poetry.  But in the end they're like spam everywhere—come-ons for pharmaceutical products and pornography, real estate deals, and who knows what else, along with the occasional bit of advice about how to improve the blog by adding something or other for a fee.

My number one blog effort is called “The Naked Book Guy,” about a fellow named Paul Winer in Arizona.  Nary a week goes by that I don't get at least one visit to that posting.  I figure it gets more hits than any other because the man enjoys some modest celebrity in Arizona and especially in the city of Quartzsite, where he owns a bookstore he often tends while wearing no clothes except for a thong.  He is retired from a career of playing boogie-woogie piano and singing while naked, I think under the name Sweetie Pie.  I do not know whether he wore a thong while performing.  When you Google “naked book guy” you get a dozen or so articles about him, and a link to my posting is at the top of the list.

On the day I visited the Naked Book Guy's store it was chilly, for Arizona, and he was wearing sweatpants and a sweater, but since it’s not cold in Quartzsite very much of the time, I imagine he’s usually naked, or nearly so.  He’s a wiry guy approaching 70 years old, weighing no more than 130 pounds, fit but not muscular.  From the photos I've seen, Mr. Winer wears his nudity well.

If you want more details about the Naked Book Guy you can consult the blog posting itself, done on January 12, 2011.  The reason I mention him is that I have been musing about why this posting gets so many hits.  I always figured they were accidental hits from people Googling such topics as “naked guys,” looking for all-male porn sites.  I don’t mind at all that people accidentally stumble on my blog.  The more the merrier.  But when I Googled just “naked guys” I didn’t find any reference to my blog posting, only lots of gay porn.  So people are finding my blog about the Naked Book Guy because they’re looking for information about the man himself.  Of course he’s famous in part because the word “naked” appears in his name, but the mere mention of nakedness doesn’t seem to result directly in the discovery of either Paul Winer or my blog.  It’s all tied in with interest in Paul Winer, the Naked Book Guy himself.  And more power to him.

I should mention that one of my readers has informed me that he met Mr. Winer at his shop in Quartzsite and directed him to my blog about him, of which he wasn’t aware.  (He's a book guy, not a computer guy.) At first he was pleased to see that he’d been featured on the internet, then when he finished reading my blog he wasn’t very happy.  As you might recall, I sort of panned his sold-out evening performance at the Quartzsite civic center.  I’m sorry I made him feel bad.  I just figured he must have known he wasn’t exactly another Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis, given the fact that he’d had to resort to performing naked to get gigs for most of his life, and even at that ended up playing small-time New England dives and far-flung outposts like Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  I liked him, overall, and he certainly can play the piano better than I can.  Without a doubt, based on his photos, he looks better naked than I do.  He just isn’t an extremely good singer or songwriter.  But he does have a neat little bookstore, and evidently a following of sorts. In some ways I might be a bit like an even more minor version of the Naked Book Guy himself—popular among a small number of people and just about at the limits of his ability to garner fame.  In any case, I had no idea I'd still be getting regular blog hits for that posting a year and a half later.

All of this has me thinking, ruminating, vaguely planning my blogging future.  I’d really like to expand my readership.  My blog isn’t attracting much attention.  That may be first and foremost because it isn’t all that good, and only people who know and like me already are willing to read it.  For that matter, lots of people who know and like me don’t read the blog at all, or do so very seldom.  So, okay, you can trust me that I’m grounded in reality on this point.  Still, I’ve wondered if using more alluring titles for some of my posts might bring in a wider superficial readership, and by accidental extension, some additional regular or occasional readers.  There’s no question that my choice of the title “The Naked Book Guy” has worked to get me extra exposure, so to speak.  The number of times that post has been accessed, about 320 times, is only 1.7% of the total number of over 18,000—but it’s the most, and twice as many as the next most visited one, called “Enter Rest Pray.”  The next three in order of popularity are titled “An Orderly Lynching,” “Nixon Gratia Nixon,” and “Signs.”  It could be that each one contains a buzzword—naked, pray, lynching, Nixon, signs—that might have caused the unsuspecting Googler, searching for nudity or communion with God or information about mob violence or a glimpse into history, to notice the blog and pay a visit.

Mulling over this idea, I thought maybe a provocative title for today’s post might get me more attention.  At first I considered calling it “Naked Coeds Gone Wild.”  Surely that would show up pretty often on Google searches, and would have the potential of greatly increasing at least my straight male audience.  Then I thought better of it, realizing I would doubtless disappoint more people than I’d attract, once they clicked on the site and realized there were no photos of naked coeds, gone wild or otherwise, and that it was all a ruse to get them to read something.  Besides, a title like that might bring with it some unwelcome attention, including an even greater number of spam comments, and perhaps even let some viruses into my computer.

I considered narrowing the focus a bit, and calling today’s post simply “Naked Guys.”  That seemed a more compelling idea.  Not far from “The Naked Book Guy,” but more inclusive.  And inclusiveness is what we're working for these days, isn't it?  The demographic I’d be targeting with a title like "Naked Guys" would be fairly reliably liberal in their political views, and more literate than average, unless statistics lie.  Who knows?  I might develop a bit of a rainbow following, which would be great.  But then I'd be neglecting the lesbians. And there’s that porn connection, with its attendant risks.

Continuing the idea of getting people’s attention through Google, I considered other possibilities for a title, including "Eleven Year Old Gives Birth," "Get Rich Without Working," "Jesus Christ," "Aliens," "Viagra," "Facebook.com," and "Kardashian."  Surely one of these would grab me some extra readers. 

In the end I fell back on what became the actual name of today’s post, a more modest but better reasoned choice, I think.  While checking on Google for the most searched keywords I came across something that suggested this title.  Others were "qwerty" and "asdf."  Look at your keyboard.  But I especially liked the one I chose, because it was far simpler and more direct than I could ever have imagined, more universal, and very unlikely to become yesterday's news.  Also, it tells you more about internet users than anything else could.  So let’s consider today an experiment.  I’ll have to tell you what happens, and whether I get the extra surge of visitors.

I realize also that while a title by itself is important, the occurrence of words within the text might also help attract attention.  So let me leave you with these parting thoughts:  Naked Naked Naked.  Nude Nude Nude. All Nude. Obama.  Romney.  America's Got Talent.  


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
Try a current topic like "get ready for the eclipse? "
"What to do or not to do when watching a solar eclipse..." I'm not sure about the time it is supposed to be visible in your area. It's dark here now.

Anonymous said...

"Free download" is another option...

Anonymous said...

Samantha Brick maybe, or "First Girlfriend"

Anonymous said...

You're bored? Try Horsens on a holiday week-end!

Michael Roberts said...

British tabloids did a study years ago and found the words "sex, win, free" were the most likely to attract readers.One of the highpoints of my so-called journalism career was to have the headline, "Win free 'Sex'" on a short item about a contest to win Madonna's book, "Sex," in a local contest in Detroit. You can also consult the Google site on search engine optimization for help on same.