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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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Friday
Aug012008

Happy Birthday, Blue Skunk

The Blue Skunk Blog is now three years old.

Such milestones seem to be a good time to review and revise, so I took a good look at my Why the Blue Skunk? and My Biases pages and made a few tweaks.

In 36 months, there have been 787 posts (averaging of 22 posts a month) on the Skunk. In July 2006 I posted only 3 times and in May 2008 I posted 36 times. 

Over the past year (August 2007 to July 2008) these are the stats generated by my blog host:

Page Views606,323
Page Views / Month (Avg)50,489
Unique Visitors245,184
Unique Visitors / Month (Avg)21,197
Robot Hits491,142
Robot Hits / Month (Avg)40,968


Or in a more graphical format:

The Skunk has 2,213 subscribers and GooglePage rank of 5/10. The Technorati authority rating is 183 and ranking is 28,458. I am not sure the significance of any of these numbers and I hope I haven't embarrassed myself. I've never gone out of my way to try to increase readership or ranking. As I've opined before, the Blue Skunk is the boutique not the Wal-Mart of blogs, appealing to only the most intelligent and discriminating of readers. (Deep enough for ya?)

Enough navel gazing. The important thing is that this entire experiment is just about as much fun as one can have with one's clothes on. Onward and upward.

Wednesday
Jul302008

Is everything making me stoopid(er)?

Some days it takes all the courage on can muster just to drive into crime-ridden Mankato, MN: From this morning's paper:

Mooning suspect remains at large
The Free Press,
MANKATO —

A pepper-spray-wielding woman who sprayed a bar bouncer after mooning police officers early Tuesday remains at large.

Police were called to Choppers on South Front Street about 1 a.m. to report that a woman was causing problems in the bar.

The woman reportedly stepped outside the bar, dropped her pants, and displayed her buttocks to officers passing by in a squad car. The officers apparently didn’t notice. When the bouncer chastised the woman for her behavior and attempted to remove her from the premises, she took a pepper spray container from her purse and sprayed the bouncer’s face and the bar area. Then she took off running.

The only description given of the woman is that she is heavyset.
"Heavyset?" That doesn't exactly narrow down the set of suspects around here.

Has anyone else noticed that newspapers are getting thinner - in width, in length, and especially in depth? News magazines like Time and Newsweek are getting thinner on editorial content. NPR and CNN are now catering to our sub 5 minute attention spans. Most movies seem to run about 90 minutes instead of two hours and critics complain when they run "long." I am not holding my breath hoping for a political debate where participants could actually treat issues in depth.

Nicholas Carr in The Atlantic asks "Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" Motoko Rich asks in the NYT's article "Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading," if reading on the Internet is the cause of poor reading test scores.  I've worried about my change in reading habits for some time.

If the snippitization of information was made popular by Internet sites, it has certainly gotten a good deal of help from the regular media.

OK, here it comes. You KNOW I couldn't resist...

Monday
Jul282008

Not so Cuil

Update: Cuil's servers were shut down on September 17, 2010, with later confirmations the service had ended. - Doug

Yes, it IS all about me. 

When I heard yesterday on NPR that a new search engine designed to rival Google was being released, it demanded a search engine shoot-out on an important subject. Well, me, of course. I searched for "Doug Johnson" in both the new Cuil (pronounced like cool, Irish for knowledge) and our old friend Google.

The first page of results were, let's say, interesting.

 

While I did like the Lover Boy implication and that 3 of the first 10 results were related to me, none was a direct link to either my blog or website. And the pictures are a mess. Who are these people? Not me. The little graphic of the bottle comes from my column on the Education World website but is placed next to the hit on Wikipedia that lists other Doug Johnsons. (Yes, there are quite a number of us out there.)

Now Google on the other hand...

 

 

The first three hits are for my website and blog. The next ones are for the famous football player and on it goes.

I'd suggest trying a similar test on a less frivolous topic in which you have some expertise.

Should be fun to see how Cuil evolves, should it survive.

___________________________________

On an unrelated note, today is my birthday. This is the first year social networking, specifically Facebook, has been used to send me greetings and salutations. People are "writing on my wall." Although it sounds malicious, I am sure the intent is good.

I am not sure how innocent the greeting below was however....

 

 

It's hell getting old...but it beats the alternative.