In your eyes I see a thousand lives,
Where do you come from,
Where do you belong.
–Dave Davies, Where Do You Come From
I look at my logs all the time – because I’m that kinds of guy, part OCD, part detective, part complete geek – who likes to see the man behind the curtain. The kinds of guy who needs to know how it all works.
Anyone with a sitemeter knows what I’m talkin’ about, though I also have urchin installed on the server, and run a couple other web-based counters and have in the past used tools like mint to track hits.
But whatever you look at, whatever slice and dice of the data you have, it’s still the same shit, who’s visiting, when, from where, and how did they get here?
There are several useful, interesting or amusing data points to be had from looking at web server logs.
The one that’s usually good for the most mirth is the google search string (and I use the term in the generic sense because we could be talking about hits from yahoo or msn or aolsearch or any one of a hundred other search pages). People search on the silliest, most amazing things, and someone, somewhere has to be collecting it all and will produce novels or art or poetry all based on such things. I look at my log now and see ‘wrist and had tattoos’, ‘dorothy parker’, ‘dirty stories’, ‘Everything up ’til the killing will be a gas’, and ‘pyro junkies’. And that’s just one sitemeter page. This can make me giggle any day.
But there are other things that are useful. I get to know certain hits by location. I know who’s likely to be getting me from illinois, from eugene oregon. A few from Austin. Certain key spots in Florida. Vancouver. A couple in town here, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose. Key users in europe. Couple buddies in New Mexico and Arizona.
I know who these are by the ISP and the location (not always the location you’d expect, my home IP shows up as coming from a totally different end of silicon valley than I actually live in, something about how the ISP has things configured). I know by (sometimes) browser type, OS. For most of my friends, I sorta know when you’ve visited. I know partly because you’re the ones who hit without a reference from a search engine, or sometimes because you show as referred from your own blog (clicking from your blogrolls).
The ones that I ponder over though, and the reason for this post, are the ones I see regularly whom I don’t know. I puzzle over certain entities. Someone who hits me from Sunnyvale CA with an ISP listed as inktomi.com. No idea who you are, but I see you regularly. Hits from San Francisco, or from San Jose. You’re not in my mental list of readers I know. Readers in New Zealand. Readers in Texas who are not the usual gang of blogger-freinds (People from Dallas or from College Station). Kent, Washington. Buffalo, New York. Blackpool, Lancaster (I want to say, how’s that count of holes coming, but no that’s blackburn).
It’s funny because I feel like I should know who’s reading. I get a lot of hits from some of the strangest places, google and other blogs I’m bloggrolled on, places where someone will link to some entry like my one on jessie combs, or on driving my jeep in a kilt, or my old ‘what’s fifty-six’ entry. Those I understand though. It’s the ones who are clearly regular readers, yet unknown that always makes me wonder.