Thursday, April 19, 2007

Did everyone else know this?

The thing about me and computers is that I am only as computer-literate as it behooves me to be. I only had a vague idea of what an IP address was--until tonight I thought it identified your inbox, but in fact it theoretically identifies the actual device you're using to connect to the internet. How did I learn this? I've been using Google analytics (since I started blogging Google is my new best friend) and I've been flummoxed by my Philadelphia-area visits.

I couldn't figure out who I was.

I figured that if a pattern I was reading looked like it could only be me, then it had to be me, even if I appeared to be in a nearby suburb. And then in another one. And then another one. And even for awhile in a town that you couldn't call a suburb, more of an easy day trip. Does my DSL provider have secret headquarters that move every so often? Or multiple ones through which I am randomly routed?

It turns out it's something like the last explanation. While an IP address identifies the device you use to get online, some ISP's use dynamic IP's, so you're assigned different ones at different times.

How discouraging, really, to know that I'll never know how many readers are really reading. I want Big Brother, darnit.

Niobe, one of the recent searches that found this site recently was dead baby jokes niobe. I hope they found you, too.

8 comments:

Lo said...

Have you considered a site meter? I don't know if it gives more detailed or specific information than Google analytics (which I have never used so don't have a clue about) but it is fun to see how many hits you get and I know it breaks down the info into many categories I have yet to explore.

S. said...

I've looked at the sample page at sitemeter a bunch since everyone seems to have them, and I find it much less elegant than Google, and therefore harder to decipher. I might feel differently if I had my own stats to play around with and explore, but for right now Google is providing me with too many opportunities to parse and obsess. Until the novelty wears off I'm not adding any new spyware.

The thing about the dynamic IP is that if your ISP uses them you'll look like multiple people no matter what -- any stats site is reading IP's to identify and track visitors. Some of the beefs I have with Google I might therefore have with any stats tracher. I want to generate a list of IP's that visit every day, for instance--it must be possible to generate such a list, but either Google doesn't do it or I haven't figured it out yet.

But if one human has several IP's even when they're typing at the same computer using the same ISP account, there may be no point in trying to find that list. (But I still want it!)

niobe said...

How funny about that search winding up here.

Magpie said...

When I look at my SiteMeter stats, my IP address looks like it's coming from Catholic Charities...which just amuses the hell out of me. It's something about the last section of numbers...

(un)relaxeddad said...

I have to use sitemeter as the online Wordpress blogg won't allow javascript in widgets (which is the only real thing that bugs me about and otherwise excellent product). It's ok but it ain't analytics by any stretch of the imagination...

wolfa said...

I know I pretend to come from Toronto half the time.

I usually fiddle between sitemeter, statcounter, and google analytics, but generally only when I think someone I don't want to is reading.

S. said...

Niobe, I agree!

Magpie, I'm so disappointed, I was imagining renegade nuns listening in on my lesbian family ramblings...but I can still imagine my "direct" hits from China are from Mormons on their missions passing my url around.

(un)relaxed dad--now I'm even less interested in sitemeter.

Wolfa, you must be flattered. I know how much you admire the city of Toronto. ;)

Phantom Scribbler said...

Site meter seems like a fun toy until you realize how many hits come from Google searches that make you despair of the human race. (My personal bugbear: searches for cliff note versions of Dr. Seuss books. I wish I was kidding about that.)