Sunday, October 23, 2005

One Blog A Second

...it's a stat in the Harper's Index™ this month: "Average number of new blogs created each second: 1." Which just goes to show you (and by "you", I mean "me"), you're not nearly as unique as you thought. For those of you playing along at home that's 3600 blogs an hour, 86,400 blogs a day, 604,800 blogs a week, 31,536,000 blogs a year. A large percentage of these must be these bot-created spam blogs that seem to exist only to create Google hits (which, frankly, I can't figure out--it seems like the easiest thing in the world for search engines to weed out. Clearly I'm missing something). Another large percentage has got to be people who say to themselves, "hey, I'll start a blog, that'll be keen," write one entry, and never come back to it. But even if only one out of every ten blogs is actually somebody writing his or her (or its) thoughts on any sort of regular basis...well, you do the math.

I talked before about how, given a large demographic sample, you can make acurate behavioral predictions that are impossible to make about an individual in that group. I started a blog for a reason that, I imagine, is relatively atypical (though given 31 MILLION blogs a year, if only one in a thousand blogs are started as a project for school, I've got a lot of company anyway). After I'd been doing it for a month or two, I discovered a bunch of my friends were also blogging, and I sort of joined their club, and modified the things I blogged about, and so on. In other words, from the perspective of my little brain, the reasons I write a blog are rather nuanced and complex and seemingly unique. From the perspective of, e.g., the dude who compiles Harper's Index™, the fact that I write a blog is neither remarkable nor particularly surprising.

All this is by way of making an "it's a map, not the territory," argument. I can predict, for instance, that if you're reading this right now that you either, a) own an iPod, or b) are married to me. Well, I'm right, aren't I? And yet it's a strangely unimpressive inference. It's factually true, yet says almost nothing about the incredibly complex process that went into you deciding to (circle one) buy an iPod/marry me (if you're reading this blog and you neither own an iPod nor are married to me, well, who the heck are you? Leave me a comment or something). The model of the universe in which you are merely the sum of your decisions and actions, in which you are an actor in some mass market or abstracted closed system, is a useful model for making generalized predictions about the behavior of you and others who are in some way, "like" you. And it's a model that says nothing about how you, blog reader and iPod owner/spouse, got where you are, where you're going, or what's going on in your little brain right now.

Harper's Index™ is a registered trademark. Oh yes it is.

3 comments:

Sam said...

My goal is simply to create the third category c) all of the above.

Transient Gadfly said...

sam, do you mean i should buy an ipod or you should marry paul?

i should also add that in neither case do the decisions involved in purchasing an ipod/becoming paul's spouse seem particularly "complex." nor do they strike me as "decisions."

Transient Gadfly said...

Well, in the former case, you can trace the iPod decision back as far as you want. In Sam's case, he of course bought one the instant it came out, for he is Sam. But then you have to go back to the cause of his For-He-Is-Sam-ness, e.g. his fetishization of technology and all things Mac. And then you have to find the source for the fetishization. And then the cause of the source of the fetishization. And so on. I'm just saying, the reason Sam owns an iPod is more complex than just that he falls into a particular consumer demographic, and the fact that he does says almost nothing about his extant state of For-He-Is-Sam-ness.

As to category b (and, perhaps in re: Sam owning an iPod as well), there's always destiny.