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Lost in the Mail

I See Good Things.

Monday, August 27, 2007
Fayetteville, Arkansas

What do we see from the mainmast of Crow's Cottage, now that the die is cast, the classroom is a memory, and I'm fully committed
to cyberspace again?

This slipping back and forth from "we" to "I" could be a problem if anybody's out there, but the presence of fractured perspectives is so commonplace that I can't be worried. It's an Age of Dissolution we trudge. Who's paying attention anyway?

What do I see?  Good things . . . for sure, for sure.

Since the unveiling of CornDancer's new-look pages on Monday last (a full week ago), the home page tracking code has recorded 177 unique visitors. That's plenty for me.

It's an interesting term, "unique visitors."

Page Hits in the Millions.

Back in the day, web statistics relied exclusively on a counting protocol known as "page hits" to determine a website's popularity (or notoriety). Webmasters began to brag about the number of "hits" attributed to their sites. The hit tallies became astronomical, rising to the millions.

Then came the questions, tinged with doubt and skepticism.

How many pages could a determined, bored, or trickster web surfer hit during a single visit?

How many hits could a mesmerized repeat visitor rack-up to skew the numbers?

Even more sinister, how often might a soulless web bot or cyber crawler come to visit a lonely web and pretend to be reading? How many page hits might the bot and the crawler record as they mine data in service of a distant search engine before moving on to the next dot address?

"More accuracy!" demanded the web meisters and their advertisers. More bandwidth and seed money, the code writers rejoined. Hence we have this hour's more sophisticated tracking algorithm to determine the number of "unique visitors," as well as a slew of other deep tracking mechanisms to satiate the thirst for data.

The Band of Winners and Champions.

A unique visitor is supposed to be someone like you, who may visit once, maybe twice, perhaps mutter a "ho hum," and be done with it — or return time and again to savor the pockets of intellectual delight and eye candy so expertly and elegantly displayed on our wondrous and original website. If you're one of the latter, the band of winners and champions, I salute you, but you'll still be uniquely counted only once, no matter how many times, or how many pages, you choose to visit, view, and savor.

Here's how one cyber glossary explains it: "If a user leaves and comes back to the site five times during the measurement period, that person is counted as one unique visitor," writes "Unique visitors are determined by the number of unique IP addresses on incoming requests that a site receives, but this can never be 100 per cent accurate. Depending on configuration issues and type of ISP service, in some cases, one IP address can represent many users; in other cases, several IP addresses can be from the same user."

Technical jargon indeed! I'll take my unique visitors and run with them.

The Hit Parade.

During the first week of its new life, CornDancer's home page hosted 177 unique visitors and recorded 419 "hits" (page views). The homepage of Freddie Bowles' Planet Gnosis drew 82 unique visitors and 161 views. Ron Fritze's history homepage ranked third on the hit parade with 27 unique visitors and 138 page views. (Ron's cadre of unique visitors should increase markedly this week now that we've sent about 70 e-mails to friends and associates, informing them of Dr. Fritze's two new essays. We'll see.)

What about this page? Crow's Cottage drew zero visitors, according to the "Most Requested Pages" site report. Hummmmmm. . . . I see now that I forgot to paste the tracking script on the hidden portion of the webpage.

Was I fearful of the very real possibility of being ignored, shunned, and dissed by a legion of unique non-readers? That's a mystery in itself. Or was my lapse merely an oversight inspired by an overwrought moment?

Can't say for sure, but it's embedded here now (the tracking code, that is).

As for the good things . . . for sure, for sure . . . they are coming.

It's a Dandy.

As promised here last Monday, Joseph Dempsey crafted his first "Photo of the Week" for our unique visitors to enjoy. I've seen next week's photo, too, and it's a dandy.

Ron Fritze has already written another of his quirky and informative essays, this one about the genre of historical mysteries and the writer C. J. Sansom, which will appear on his CornDancer cybersite on Sunday.

Freddie Bowles last night finished her new essay, "The Summer of the Red Wasps." Look for it on Planet Gnosis two days hence.

Joanna Garza of southwest Missouri will join the CornDancer roster of writers in early September with the publication of her new essay, "Losing a Tooth," which explores the symbolism of dreams and the interplay of generations. A tribal member of the Keetoowah Indians (Cherokee) and a public school teacher, Joanna writes about a mother's wisdom, the ways of the educated world, and the ultimate spiritual value of having a complete set of teeth.

Beauty, Area 51, and the Scorpion.

In the high desert of Nevada a thousand or so miles west of Crow's Cottage, another good thing is percolating in the fertile imagination of DeWayne "D'Willy" Davis. A longtime member of the CornDancer family, Dr. D. is fully engaged in creating a narrative portrait of his desert environs for publication in early autumn. "I may not write about the sodium vapor colored incandescent UFOs I never officially saw," a wry D'Willy writes from his hacienda a few miles to the north of Area 51. "Then, of course, there's the desert scorpion, an offset ugliness, danger and a threat to all the desert beauty. . . ."

Dylan FitzDylan, author and editor of CornDancer's "The Last Days of Planet X," yesterday expressed by e-mail an interest in collaborating with D'Willy. The two of them used to be neighbors.

We've admonished FitzDylan for falling silent of late. Our readers haven't heard from the Senior Analyst and founder of The Compound since January, soon after he left the desert for a lighthouse by the Nowhere Existing Sea, from whence he said he would pursue the one metaphor that rules all others.

However, FitzDylan's silence ends this week. His communiqué of yesterday included a new essay, which I'm deciphering for publication, perhaps as soon as Thursday or Friday. It has something to do with the quantum-ness of science and its influence on commonplace reality.

Me? I've the usual boatload of projects moored high upon my psyche. Some will very likely go to sea. And that's good, too.


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