Sunday, December 19, 2004

Regular Reading, December 19, 2004

by Tom Bozzo

There are a few new additions to the blogroll this week.

NYU professor Nouriel Roubini has a lengthy post explaning in detailed but nonmathematical terms the economics of the Bush administration's Social Insecurity efforts — as Roubini bluntly puts it, the "mother of all con-man smoke-and-mirrors shell-games" — at his Global Economics Blog. Roubini's efforts should suffice to disabuse anyone of the notion that the big-name conservative economists attending last week's "economic summit" know something that the rest of us don't.

PZ Myers' biology-centric Pharyngula, a daily destination of mine, ventures into Social Insecurity territory to host a dialogue on the related subjects of whether it is possible to make one's self $100 richer by loaning one's self $100 and the motivations of various participants in the shell-game. There's a parallel universe where my laughter would not have trailed off into dread.

"Oscar Madison" at the Columnist Manifesto mused about the privacy implications of Web tracking technology (such as Site Meter, which counts visits here — click on the multicolored icon under the disclaimer to see just how lonely this corner of the netiverse is) and the seemingly random blogs that "refer" not inconsiderable fractions of the traffic at infrequently-visited Blogspot blogs.

Of course, I'm curious about who is visiting and reading. It's a small enough number of people that I know (not necessarily via Site Meter), or have well-educated guesses about, a large fraction of the regulars. That there should be anyone else, though a predictable consequence of posting this stuff to the naked Internet, is nevertheless a bit weird-feeling. If you're one of the mystery visitors, who are you and what are you doing here?

The random blogs, it turns out, result from people clicking the "next blog" button at the top right of this page, which would send you to a seemingly random blog. Note that doing so is not necessarily safe for work. I'm curious as to the precise nature of the randomness, since the "next blog" visitors show clear clustering (a bunch one day, none for several) in the traffic reports.

One thing that "nextblogging" reveals is that statistics such as the number of blogs tracked by Technorati, or the first derivative of that number, must be taken with a major grain of salt, which is rarely done in the "MSM". Of the 15,000 new blogs a day, is it unreasonable to think that 14,500 will be moribund in short order?
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