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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Where in the world is...

On a recent visit to Jack’s Shack, I noticed a nifty little map in his right hand column with red dots showing where his readers were geographically situated in the world.

I’d seen a couple of different maps where readers could place a virtual pin with their name and a message, but that required opting in, and not all browsers supported it.

This was something completely passive… meaning that as readers arrive, their geographic IP info is fed into the map, and a clustering algorithm assigns different sized dots depending on how many visitors come from that specific area. There is no specific personal information being captured, but it still seemed pretty sci-fi!

Though I have a pretty good idea where some of my ’regulars’ live (based on their comments and our occasional e-mail exchanges), looking at Jack's map made me realize that the overwhelming majority of people who come here are a complete mystery to me. I mean, I’m getting up several times a week and jabbering in front of a crowd that would pretty much fill my old high school auditorium.... so how is it that I’ve been able to go on ‘talking’ to them when I can’t see their faces?

I can’t really complain when someone comes and reads day after day without leaving a comment, because there are a few places I lurk online that I do the same thing. Let’s face it, finding someone interesting is not always the same as wanting to engage them in conversation. Anyone who has ever taken their lunch out to the park on a sunny day to do some people watching knows what I mean. It’s fun to watch strangers, but the inclination to turn strangers into friends is not always as strong.

Anyway, after a moment’s hesitation I followed the link on the map and ended up installing the code on treppenwitz. It’s over there on the right if you want to take a look.

I don’t know what I expected… maybe I figured that if I could just see where in the world my readers were situated I might gain some deep understanding of who these silent readers were and what they were looking for from me.

Well, whatever I was thinking, I was wrong. Instead of scratching the itch, this map has just made me more curious.

Who are the readers in Spain and Portugal?

Who is that way up there on the western shore of Hudson Bay in Canada?

Do I really have a reader or two up on the northern tip of Scotland (or maybe even the Orkney Islands) and in China?

Is that reader off the southern coast of Sicily on a tiny island?

And, Brazil? I am fascinated by the idea that someone in Brazil sits down with a cup of coffee and reads my blather every day.

Now this isn’t to say I’m not pleased as punch to see many of my suspicions about many of you validiated. The cities in North America are pretty well represented, as are the big European cities. From the incoming referrals I’d already discovered that I seem to have a loyal readership in Germany, and I have a pretty good idea who is reading me down in Australia (Hi Kay!) and in Iceland (hi Hatshpsut)!

So now I’m wondering if it was such a good idea setting up that map here on treppenwitz. Before I was satisfied to enjoy the informative dialogue with a small group of my readers and allow the rest to lurk in peace. Now I want to meet everyone!

I have to run out to a conference today up in Herzlia, so I can’t dwell on this conundrum as much as I’d like. But I would enjoy hearing from others as to whether it’s reasonable for a blogger/journaler to want to know more about the far-flung people who are reading his or her words… or is it enough to look at the hit counter and know they are there.

I'd really like to know what you think... and if you happen to let slip where you're writing from, I won't complain.  ;-)
221_2_1

Posted by David Bogner on December 23, 2004 | Permalink

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greetings from Los Angeles, from a guy you pray would go back to lurking!

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 23, 2004 9:32:37 AM

Doctor Bean... Of course not... don't be silly! Just maybe confine your participation to prose. :-)

Posted by: David | Dec 23, 2004 9:48:40 AM

Checking in from the San Fernando Valley here.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 23, 2004 10:07:01 AM

Berkeley, California (the one Bay Area reader, or so it would seem).

On closer investigation, most of the non-Israeli/non-US hits seem to be coming from major cities, and often from capitals: Reykjavik, Iceland; Nicosia, Cyprus; San Jose, Costa Rica; London, England, Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; Warsaw, Poland. Your Brasilian appears to be from Rio de Janeiro, and my guess is that the island south of Sicily is actualy Malta.

Oddly, your one French reader appears to be in the center of the country - Lyon? St. Etienne? and the Germans appear to be centered in the Rhein/Main area - I'm guessing Frankfurt and maybe Stuttgart.

Unfortunately, the zoomed-in Africa map (the one with the Israel blowup) doesn't load correctly at the moment, so it's difficult to assess where your local traffic is coming from. It would be interesting to do a breakdown by municipality, region, urban/rural and so on.

Peter [Map Fanatic] Adler

Posted by: Peter Adler | Dec 23, 2004 11:16:47 AM

Hi Jack! And thanks for the idea.

Peter... From reading the FAQs on the map site, it seems that the IP location is based on where the ISP is located. This might explain why so many main cities are listed. Thanks for doing so much legwork for me though... I was planning on sitting down wiht an atlas this evening and really trying to figure out who is where. :-)

Posted by: David | Dec 23, 2004 11:27:16 AM

David-
I noticed your map yesterday and clicked so I could get one of my own. But I couldn't figure out how to get the proper HTML code. It just said to enter the url, and then to ENTER the code, and I was like "But the point is that I *need* the code." What do I do?

Posted by: Sarah | Dec 23, 2004 11:39:00 AM

Greetings from Skokie, IL. Have been reading your site for a while now, and I am thoroughly enjoing it.

Thanks,
Greg T

Posted by: Gregory Titievsky | Dec 23, 2004 11:51:39 AM

Sarah... I had a couple of minutes of confusion also. You need to enter your address and then scroll to the right to see the button that will generate the code. Before you copy and paste the code into your blog, make sure to edit the code with today's date (it will be obvious where to do this).

Greg... Welcome... um... well you said you've been reading for a while so this isn't really welcome, but rather 'nice to meetcha'.

Posted by: David | Dec 23, 2004 12:18:47 PM

With a journal as popular as yours, super-present on search engines, cross-referred on a handful journals, and participating in pinger services and newsfeeds...you can deduct more than a handful of spots from the map as "non-humans". Some spammers show up in the stats, others don't. I wonder from where exactly information is being read into the map application. If from the logfiles, then you've got all the spiders and bots in there, too [my guess would be China].

Nonetheless, this map thing is an interesting way to visualize a site's audience; we have a similar thing running on our server.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Dec 23, 2004 1:22:23 PM

That's a neat idea... I'll have to find some time to see if I can work that into my typepad blog.

Maybe one of those small dots is Cincinnati? I think there are at least two of us here who read your blog. I travel quite a bit too - so when I read your blog on the road, I might be contributing to other dots.

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Dec 23, 2004 2:16:46 PM

Great idea - I think I might just copy it!

Gilly, Jerusalem

Posted by: Gil Ben Mori | Dec 23, 2004 2:19:21 PM

Thanks for the information. I just put one on my blog as well. Keep up the great work!

Posted by: A Simple Jew | Dec 23, 2004 3:03:08 PM

Alberta, Canada

Posted by: Talmida | Dec 23, 2004 4:40:02 PM

I added mine the day after you did, because I noticed yours and had to have one. Even after using one of the "place your pin" maps, this is much more interesting. The majority of them baffle me, and I love being baffled, so thanks for the tip! :o)

Posted by: Tanya | Dec 23, 2004 5:25:24 PM

It really is kind of cool to see where people are coming from, or at least where their IP says they are at. I am consistently amazed at how the net can shrink distances between countries and people around the world.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 23, 2004 6:43:23 PM

ooo, this is cool.
my dot is HUGE..of course - because I live in and around the center of the universe,

Posted by: lisa | Dec 23, 2004 7:23:15 PM

Mademoiselle a. ... I figured that a good amount might be bots, but there are also some search engine referrals that add up too.

Steve... mine is a typepad blog as well. Just copy the code into the notes section of one of your typelists (make sure to set your configuration so that tooltips show as text.

Gilly... Feel free. As I said, I shamelessly ripped off the idea from Jack.

A Simple Jew... I'll be sure to check it out. Don't forget that it may take up to a day for the dots to start showing up since I think it updates daily.

Talmida... I still get the giggles when I say the name of your blog to myself. Brilliant! Thanks for checking in.

Tanya... I feel so hip to have 'discovered' something before one of my favorite 'geek goddesses' did! Of course my ego will get an adjustment when I look at your world map and it looks like the nuclear destruction display on the control room wall at the end of 'War Games'.

Jack... Thus the name of today's post. :-)

Lisa... Who knew that New England was at the center of the universe?! :-)

Posted by: David | Dec 23, 2004 7:58:29 PM

Another San Fernando Valley person here. Because we love David and Treppenwitz in the Valley. Fer sure, like totally!

*mwah!*

Posted by: Carol | Dec 23, 2004 10:11:27 PM

Greetings from the other
" West Bank ".....Amsterdam and 77th...

Posted by: shabtai | Dec 24, 2004 1:30:41 AM

Sorry to be a nudnik, but how do I find out the URL of comma-separated data file for my blog? I don't know what the IP addres is. Can anyone help me out? I am trying to get this map thing working.

Thank you!

Posted by: A Simple Jew | Dec 24, 2004 1:56:05 PM

Shabtai... That's the West Bank we should be giving back! :-)

A Simple Jew... Just put your URL (Blog Address, beginning with http:// ). That's what they are looking for.

Posted by: David | Dec 24, 2004 2:10:31 PM

Thanks! I appreciate it!

Posted by: A Simple Jew | Dec 24, 2004 2:27:15 PM

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