Saturday, June 30, 2007

Privacy and other internet lessons

For the first time since I started this blog some nine months ago, I’ve pulled a posting off the site. In it I had discussed changing the name of the Northwest Media Literacy Center to, well, something else.

The something else turned out to be a “pretty good name,” in the opinion of a “naming consultant” who wandered onto the posting after his search snagged one of my search engine tags. He suggested that we protect the proposed name by registering it before someone else did.

The problem is that our organization hasn’t agreed on the name, but the response from the naming consultant increased our interest in the name, and gave several of us pause.

I decided to go private with our seemingly valuable thinking about names. I deleted the post and its comments.

The experience with the naming posting is just the most recent to raise my awareness of the huge promise and troubling pitfalls of this medium.

I’ve had an Italian T-shirt merchant comment on a post, in Italian. His pitch to get you to his site was deleted. Interestingly enough, he too was responding to our proposed name.

Only a couple of other spammers have tried to lure Red Electric readers to commercial sites. They were likewise deleted. Alas, I'm certain that won't be the last of them.

The Red Electric’s site meter has provided interesting data. The site averages 40 visits a day. When I wrote about the Portland Timbers recently, visits shot up to 60. In fact, my choice of topic and resulting search tags drive up (or down) numbers of visits markedly.

I’m often surprised by the topics that attract the most attention. For instance, a post on the misuse of apostrophes was a magnet for grammarians far and wide. So if you want grammarians, tag a post, any post, “apostrophe.”

Attracting hordes is not my goal here, but responses provide insight into how audience surveys like the Nielsen ratings can drive media content. If TV producers and magazine editors feel even a nibble of interest, they’ll yank on the topic in hopes of landing a big audience — which, of course, drives up advertising rates.

Think Paris Hilton and the observation about her being famous for being famous. Or is it being famous for being cute or coy or sexy or incarcerated or rich or all of the above….

And no, I won’t tag this “Paris Hilton,” but it is tempting.

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