Scripting News for 2/5/2007

I’ve added a brief bio to the sidebar… 

The best part of the Useless Account writeup on TechCrunch is the useless windoid that pops up as you click the link. 🙂 

BBC: “Technology giant Apple has reached a deal with the Beatles to end the dispute over the use of the Apple name.” 

YouTube has all of yesterday’s Superbowl commercials. My favorites were the Coke ads, I had seen one of them at the movies last week. I also liked the ad, it was straightforward and corny, that’s what I liked about it. 

Newly re-discovered, favorites from the Bonzo Dog Band. Tubas in the Moonlight. Ali Baba’s Camel. Hunting Tigers. Wonderful stuff! 

A picture tells the story 

On Friday I started using Google Analytics to track flow on this site. Already it’s generating useful information, confirming something I believed was true.

Most of the traffic for this site is repeat visitors, and most of it is self-generated.

In other words, some time ago a bunch of people started reading Scripting News through the day, bookmarked in some way, refreshed it periodically.

The site doesn’t get a lot of people pointing into it, there aren’t a lot of ways to discover it.

Aggregators and feed readers don’t generate any traffic because the feed contains the full content.

You can see this in the relatively low (for the traffic) Technorati rank.

Who does he think he is? 

I think many times when you know something that other people don’t — it’s simply because you’re standing some place where you can see something that you can’t see if you’re standing somewhere else. It’s not because one person is smarter, or somehow better than others, it’s just a point of view that’s making seeing possible.

For example, no doubt people in public radio would think some of the stuff I wrote on Saturday is arrogant, who does he think he is, what makes him so special, why does he think he’s so smart. He really isn’t that smart, he doesn’t know anything about public radio, why should we listen to him?

I’m like the guy who can see a truck coming, and you’re standing in its path. Why do I see it? Because it hit me a number of years ago, and to the extent that I saw it coming, I ignored it, no one else seemed worried, so why should I? Bad strategy. The truck is coming anyway, might as well factor that into your thinking. And maybe I’m wrong, in which case listening won’t hurt, might waste a little time, but then we waste so much time worrying about who he thinks he is and why should you listen, that a little more wasted time doesn’t seem so bad.

In 2000 I naively thought the music industry wanted to know why its users were suddenly so excited about their product. The idea that I could program my own music was incredibly enabling. People were talking about music in the supermarket and on the subway. Now we live in a world where our lives have their own personal soundtracks. We’re all John Travolta when we walk down the street, Stayin Alive in our own little worlds where we program the music not some DJ in a booth somewhere far away. I went to one of their conferences and gave a talk, and told them how I, as a user, was rediscovering their product. To say they didn’t want to hear it is an understatement. They called me names, shouted at me, held me responsible for their businesses. I tried to tell them money wasn’t the issue, empowerment was. But they didn’t want to hear.

They saw a truck coming, and they planned to hold their ground. Now, seven years later, it seems someone should ask, as Dr Phil might: How well did that work? 🙂

I love public radio. I’m going to put that up on the screen while I talk. I love everything about public radio. That’s why I want to see it kick ass in the new world where the former audience is using the public airwaves to communicate with each other. I want the pros in public radio to teach us how to do it, so there will be 100,000 public radio stations in the U.S. by the end of next year. Far-fectched? At one point people thought 100,000 blogs was a dream.

11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by james on February 5, 2007 at 9:37 am

    As fate would have it, you’re living in the same city as one of the most visible and vocal proponents of free radio in the country.
    I think a lunch split between you and Stephen Dunifer would be pretty interesting.


  2. I added your bio over at Tinfinger (cut the last quote for space though!):|Winer


  3. Nicely done bio note, Dave.

    All that, and “Scripting” too!

    (I was just noticing this weekend the things I use that have Frontier behind them just keep going, even when I do really dumb things to them…)


  4. 45% of your readers are “new”, and you consider that low? After all this time?

    This must be a glass half-empty/half-full thing, or perhaps I just don’t have a big enough data sample, but to me that seems spectacularly high. Especially given how long you’ve been doing this, and how high your traffic is in the first place.

    Imagine doing a random sample of the Financial Times, or the New Yorker, and discovering almost half the readers were new.

    If your Technorati rank is low, that only shows yet again how worthless Technorati is as a tool. It may well be “the best we have,” but that only says how poorly the field as a whole is performing (I’ve always been leery of Technorati’s self-selecting methods).


  5. Posted by Ian on February 6, 2007 at 4:34 am


    I completely agree with your assessment that you have a stable visitor audience that returns frequently, it is probably higher than what you are seeing so far.

    If you really just started using Google Analytics on Friday, I think that your percentage of repeat vs. new visitors is actually higher that what you are currently seeing. The reason is that most Web analytics applications like Google and Coremetrics (full disclosure: I work for them), use cookies to track returning users. This means that when you start using a new application, all of your users are considered to be “new”. Starting on a Friday is another factor that will impact these numbers. People have different Web use and reading patterns on the weekends vs. weekdays. So you will probably see many “new” users on Monday that didn’t visit you over the weekend. This will continue to drop over the first week as all of your daily and once-a-week visitors return for their weekly read. Over the next weeks, you will see the repeat visitor level start to grow until it eventually plateaus. It will probably mostly plateau within one week, and then you will see gradual refinements over the next 2-3 weeks. Again, I have seen that some sites have very unique reading patterns, but off hand I don’t see why Scripting News would vary from this.

    Oh, someone will eventually mention cookie deletion as a problem identifying new users. It is, a problem, but there has been a lot of work done on this. Check out the Yahoo Web Analytics Group for past debates on the topic:


  6. Hal, that was after four days sampling and two of those days were weekend days.

    The percentage will go down over time, it is going down.

    And I have an advantage of being able to compare that to other sites, like XML-RPC, that are almost entirely new visitors. A very different phenomenon.

    People rush to make it personal. Be careful about that.


  7. Posted by Nick on February 6, 2007 at 9:07 am

    is there any chance that RSS Readers will support WML?


  8. Posted by David Donald on February 6, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Hi Dave
    Your stuff on the future of radio is really interesting. I have some colleagues at the BBC who would like to have you speculate on that. If you contact me I will give you details…


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