Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Virtual Footprints

my new laptopSince I wrote about the cultural divide between the AOL-J community and the blogosphere at large, a few things have changed, at least from my very limited perspective.  On the one hand, I no longer have time to explore the outside world with BlogExplosion and BlogClicker, so I don't know whether attitudes toward AOL have changed at all.  (I suspect not.)  At the same time, though, John Scalzi's Weekend Assignment of 4/28 encouraged AOL-Jers to recommend the best of that same outside world to each other.  We did so, recommending a wide variety of pages.  Maybe we even followed a few that our peers had recommended.  Since there are many thousands of AOL Journalers who are not me, that represents a net increase in AOL Journalers looking around on non-AOL pages.

On the other hand, AOL editors have increased their efforts to promote AOL Journals, both individually and collectively, mostly but not exclusively to AOL members.  This includes the assignment follow ups on the AOL Journals page, as well as links to journals from different "channels" or areas of interest (e.g. sports, music, etc.).

On the third hand (if you're Zaphod Beeblebrox), AOL Journal Land is still reeling from the mess over a journal that was wrongly deleted by AOL, and collectively worried about archiving journals against future disasters. I haven't heard of anyone actually leaving AOL over this, but as previously noted, I don't get out much.  Still, AOL-Jers are feeling a bit skittish these days. 

The results of all this are as follows:

  • AOL Journalers are substantially more aware of the outside e-world,
  • People on the non-AOL web and blogosphere are perhaps a smidge more aware of AOL Journals
  • AOL Journalers are probably seeing more traffic from within AOL, especially if they participate inWeekend Assignments, photo challenges, etc.
  • The search continues for good ways to archive journals that have hundreds of entries

Bottom line: we (not so much me, but AOL Journalers in general), are probably going "off-campus" more, as Scalzi put it, but most new AOL-J traffic is coming from inside the Land.

Today, I did one of my periodic searches for my favorite semi-fictional word,* this time starting from  Of something like 173 links, perhaps half were related to a certain region of France, with its ski chalet and its own obscure language.  Most of the rest had something to do with stuff I'd written.  The St. Michael's web site was there, and Messages from Mâvarin, and some individual journal entries from Musings and from Paul's Aurora Walking Vacation.  There were also some interesting surprises:

What this mostly proves, if anything, is that if we're active online, our virtual footprints tend to turn up all over the Web, including places we've never been ourselves.  Even though some spiders hardly seem to touch AOL in their cataloging of blogs and such, there's still a lot of potential for random linking in odd places.  Add to that any comments, reviews, etc. we may have left on pages we visited just once and forgot about afterward, and the cumulative effect can be enormous (as Slartibartfast might put it).

In tonight's search for That Word, the biggest surprise for me was finding this journal listed on an AOL page I don't think I'd seen before.  Yes, I found the "Sara and Sarah" link on the AOL Journals page several days ago, but this other one is new to me.  Musings is linked from the following AOL page:

AOL Research and Learn:  Book Reviews


copyright BBCBook Blogs

Rants, raves and reviews on books from AOL Journals.

Guess I should write some book reviews, huh?   Okay, deal.  Coming up Friday night: the history of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


* one guess

P.S. Go see what Carly had to say about my 10 Things That May Be True About Carly.  Most of them were!


gaboatman said...

Great entry today, Karen.  Interesting and informative.

ryanagi said...

I should do a search on my screen name or something one of these days. Or maybe I should use or make up an obscure word to use in my postings so I will have something more specific to search on in the future. LOL