Despite years of surfing and investigating the web, I still find some of the habits of its users surprising. I spent this morning reading Charles Leadbeater’s ‘We-Think’, one of the many books that are currently discussing the future of collaboration caused by new technologies. Whilst an enjoyable quick read, this post is not a book review, instead it is a reflection on one of the points made in the book: “The British political website that gets the most traffic belongs to the British National Party: racists are not given room to express their views on television so they use the Internet to promote and organise themselves.”
Although I know the BNP has a web site, and have visited it more than once, I was nonetheless shocked to be told it is the political web site with the most traffic. As Leadbeater provided no reference for the statement, I decided to have a look for myself.
Whilst the sites that provide traffic information are notoriously unreliable, both Alexa and Compete provide the same picture. The BNP’s traffic seems to be larger than the UK’s major political parties, as well as some of the smaller ones who may have found it equally difficult to express the opinions in traditional news sources (e.g., greenparty.org.uk, ukip.org, respectcoalition.org, and the extremely un-mainstream natural-law-party.org.uk).
It is healthy to see, however, that British Parliament still commands a healthy lead over the BNP, and personally I would view that as a political web site:
Personally I hope that the majority of visitors to the BNP site are approaching them as an antiquated curiosity whose policies shock and disgust, rather than as a site with which they relate. Maybe these statistics give credence to the opinion that has been expressed elsewhere, that whilst the mainstream media state that they abhor the policies of the BNP they do give the small party far more exposure than they really should.
One of the many web topics that is of interest to me is the delivery and sharing of news on the web. Despite the rhetoric of the blogosphere I have never been persuaded that traditional journalism can be successfully replaced by so-called citizen journalism, for the most part the blogosphere highlights, and puts their own opinions on, news stories coming from traditional sources. Whilst I have always cast a cynical eye on the traditional media, I must admit that I didn’t quite realise how far journalism had gone in the cutting of corners and trimming of budgets. After finishing Nick Davies’ “Flat Earth News“, you can only conclude that news is up the proverbial creek.
Even the great BBC, which brought my attention to the book in the first place, is not immune to criticism. Can correspondents really do their job properly as they constantly jump between tv stations, radio, and the web?
At a time when the market is clearly not up to the job, surely it is time we should be emphasising the Beeb’s public service credentials rather than trying to force it into playing by the market rules. Surely there should be a campaign out there to increase the licence fee.
GigaOm published some interesting data yesterday on worldwide corporate wi-fi usage. Whilst it unsurprisingly highlighted London as the city with the greatest number of corporate wi-fi users in the world (after all it is the world’s greatest city), I was personally surprised at the low proportion of users accessing wi-fi in cafes. Whilst I appreciate that business users have a lot of time on their hands in hotels and airports, I would expect this to be overwhelmed by the numerous 5/10 mins here and there in cafes all the time. Even in the back-of-beyond that is Wolverhampton I have found half a dozen cafes where I can get free wi-fi, from which I average 3-4hrs access week (sometimes a lot more).
It would seem as though theiPass results can only tell the story of how their users use their service, rather than reflecting the growth of wi-fi use generally. That is the data I would really like to see.
nb. I would also like to see an increase in links on posts to their sources. The lack of links seems to be increasingly popular over the last few months.
Thanks to a single link on the BBC’s delicious roll on Saturday night, yesterday saw Webometric Thoughts get its highest number of hits ever. Whilst for many sites 121 absolute unique visitors in a day (according to Google analytics) wouldn’t be worthy of note, the webometric blogging community have fairly low aspirations.
What is interesting, from the perspective of a Google Analytics junkie, is the difference between the amount of traffic this link drove in comparison to a similar on the BBC’s delicious roll on the 16th January. Whilst the January link only drove 17 unique users to my site, Saturday’s link drove 102 users over a three day period!
Was the extra traffic all due to the extra time the link was visible on the BBC? It was visible a lot longer, but weekend traffic is often slower. Or was it the topic of the posts? The first was about ISPs, whilst the second was about the iPhone. It seems equally likely that the difference in the traffic is due to the link’s anchor text. Whereas the first text referred to ‘David Stuart research fellow’, the second link merely referenced the blog ‘Webometric Thoughts’ (AC seems to have done much more digging than NR).
Not all links are equal, however equal they may seem.
I am probably the world’s biggest BBC fan, and think they have made some great moves on the internet, especially with the rolling out of the iPlayer. But now they have managed to annoy me. Just catching up on my RSS feeds, and found that yesterday the iPlayer became accessible on the iPhone. Whilst I look forward to the BBC rolling out on mobile devices, choosing the iPhone first is just annoying.
I appreciate that they have to roll the services out across the different systems one at a time, but I don’t understand why they chose the iPhone over the S60 based devices, specifically the N95 which would have made the service available to many more times the customers. It is not a repeat of the Linux/Apple/Windows debate as Windows was always the dominant platform. The iPhone is only the dominant device in the minds of certain sections of the blogosphere.
“We started with iPhone because it is the device most optimised for high quality video currently available”…seems a pretty lame excuse to me, especially as the N95 would have allowed for true mobile viewing as it could utilise 3G rather than being limited to Wi-Fi.
Obviously part of my annoyance is due to my having an N95, but in my defense I haven’t moaned about the lack of access on the Wii or the fact that when I try to access BBC files on the Netgear EVA 700 it refuses to give me a picture (unlike the Channel 4 programmes which work perfectly). I think this time it’s a legitimate whinge.
In the early days of my blog I decided to not bother with adverts; after all, it seemed highly unlikely that I would generate enough traffic to earn the Google Adsense minimum. However, as I have been blogging I have found that the visitor numbers have steadily increased, and if they continue in the right direction I have hopes of eventually getting the blog to pay for itself!
My hosting package is costing me £56.37 for two years. According to the article I read when I made my original decision, a rough rule of thumb is that 1,000 impressions will make 50 cents. February saw my webometrics blog gain 2,160 impressions…so that would equate to just over a dollar. Whilst the numbers probably aren’t quite there yet, it’s worth a try if the numbers keep improving.
Admittedly I hope the standard of the ads improves. The first ads are for www.postersonwheels.co.uk and www.bee-moved.co.uk. If anyone visiting my site clicked on one of those I would be extremely suprised.
Nb. I still think the ads look tacky, but I have tried to place mine in a fairly unobtrusive place.
As I sat in my dentist’s waiting room yesterday (no work necessary, thanks for asking), I read a report in the Daily Telegraph about the first man who has been taken to court in the UK for allegedly harassing his ex-girlfriend via Facebook.
Whilst all new communication technologies seem to eventually make it to court for allegedly involving harassment, surely after the first unwanted sheep or two had been thrown in the ex-girlfriend’s direction, or he had poked her once too often, she would have simply de-friended him. As the trial is only up the road I am almost tempted to go along later in the month and find out exactly the role Facebook took, surely it was a minor part that the media have decided to focus on.
UPDATE: The defendent has been cleared according to the Register 27/03/08