Thursday, October 14, 2010

Privacy Schmivacy

Recently, I changed the look of this blog by removing the Feedjit tracking application that told me who visited and when. In its place, I installed a simple counter so I can still get an idea of general traffic flow.

Although I had received one or two comments about the "Big Brother" feel of the Feedjit tracker -- as if Big Brother cares if you're reading a blog about Disney removing hamburgers from a few of its menus -- concern over your privacy is not why I removed it. The reason the tracker no longer adorns this blog is because I was wasting too much time and energy checking and rechecking the stats it provided.

It got to the point where every time I passed a computer, a sudden compulsion overtook me and demanded I pull up the blog to see who had visited last. Was I getting an even distribution from different regions of the country? Were most of the hits coming from the areas of the country in which I've lived? Someone from Wisconsin visited -- should I try to write something funny about cheeseheads?

Part of the problem is that I live and die by numbers at my day job. Understanding the trends, patterns of use, pacing, and return on investment of each of my accounts -- in addition to being able to forecast future revenues with reasonable accuracy -- is essential. It's only natural I should fall into the same micro-analysis of the data offered to me about my blog.

Unfortunately, the "cool" factor had worn off and it started making the blog seem more like work. I was trying to read into the data information that possibly wasn't there. This defeated the very purpose of the blog, which was to allow myself an expectation-free zone in which to practice writing and have a chance to vent my thoughts on whatever subject struck my fancy. It's called "Ramblings" for a reason.

I admit to liking the map feature, which I blogged about recently (see post HERE). It was interesting to know people in different countries had visited my blog but it didn't tell me anything useful. After all, does it really matter whether someone from Bali accidently stumbled across a random post while surfing the internet?

"Hey Putu, come here!"

"What is it Nengah?"

"Read this funny post about PayPal. No, wait. That one isn't very funny."

So, as of this week, the visitor tracking is out and the simple hit counter is in. However, don't kid yourself into thinking your information still isn't being collected by Blogger and every other website you visit. The internet is all about cookies, and data mining, and hounding you to the point of being able to tell what brand of tissue you prefer or where you might want to take your next vacation.

But that's okay. Privacy is overrated and really just a perception anyway. Every time you step out your door -- or even before if your blinds are up -- you are subject to the scrutiny of the public eye. Why should the internet be any different?

Think of every website you visit as just another shop at your local stripmall, or storefront next to the corner deli. If you see a storefront selling something questionable or unsavory to your tastes, don't go in. If you choose to go through the door, the proprieters will make assumptions about you, try to collect your information, and try to sell you something before you leave.

And in the non-virtual world, you'll probably end up on countless security video tapes, so make sure you dress nice and don't pick your nose.

© 2010 Mark Feggeler


  1. "...and don't pick your nose."
    Now you tell me!

  2. At least make sure your back is to the camera.