27 February 2009

Stumbling Around in Cyberspace

I don't know about you, but I sometimes wonder what the Internet is for. I admit that I would find it difficult to survive at work without it, with its vast repository of knowledge that can be tapped into with a simple Google search (aren't those guys great?). I have found a wealth of solutions to the kind of programming problems I encounter in my day-to-day work as a Computer Scientist. Whatever problem I hit, I can guarantee that someone else out there has hit it before and has a solution or, at the very least, that there are ideas that help me on my way to finding the answer I need. What I have never really understood is why people surf the net in leisure time.

Stumble Upon

In the hope of gaining enlightenment, I've been using Stumble Upon for a while and have to say that I have had a mixed bag of results. For those of you not in the know, Stumble Upon feeds you with a variety of web pages that match your declared interests, assisting you with your random stumbling through the world wide web, providing you (hopefully) with information that may actually interest you.

On the downside, I have seen a lot of pages that do not really interest me at all. I have naturally identified a number of aspects of computing as being of interest, and Stumble Upon has dutifully served me with pages in the genre. I am quite grateful that Stumble Upon provides its users with a simple means of voting for the kind of pages they really like and against those they really don't, as I've seen quite a lot of trash. I am a bit sick of pages about Cascading Style Sheets, and those claiming to provide the world's best web-page content manager. How many 'bests' can there be?

On the upside, I have stumbled upon some interesting stuff. Yesterday, I actually stumbled upon a page that informed me about a particular aspect of my work that I had never really considered (I won't bore you with the details) and which I implemented today. Previously, I have stumbled upon pages such as Fail Blog (computing isn't my only interest) which have had me laughing out loud, and several other sites that have captured my attention for whole minutes at a time.

On balance, I think that Stumble Upon is actually quite useful and entertaining. If you've never tried it, give it a go.

Best Blogging Practice

Of particular note, I have been fed a whole host of blogs that give definitive lists on how to make your blog successful. Frankly, I wonder... Of course, like every blogger, I would like to be widely read and see soaring statistics on Google Analytics, or even get comments from my few regular visitors, but I have yet to come across a list that convinces me to change my approach.

Google Analytics have shown me that my blogs are ticking over with a few visitors (although I would always be pleased to see more) from different parts of the world, some of whom keep coming back (and, if you are one of those returnees, can I say a big thank you).

What Do You Think?

I would love to receive your comments on any of my posts. For this one in particular, I would be interested in feedback on why you return to this or any of my blogs specifically, or to any blog in general. What is it that attracts you to blogs in the first place? Why do you go back? What puts you off? What induces you to leave a comment? Or not? Perhaps together we can concoct a list that will appear on Stumble Upon that reflects real user experience rather than personal opinion... Perhaps we can experiment with your suggestions and see if this blog really flies...

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