Tuesday, April 10, 2007

KEYWORDS IN A BOTTLE: The things surfers carry

I recently installed new software at Under The News that tells me a lot more about my readers: Where they come from, when they're surfing, how long they visit, what kind of browser they use, even the resolution of their monitors.

But this magical software also tells me the search keywords that led them to my site. Of all the statistics now at my beck and call -- most of which merely offer a glimpse of technical details -- this one offers a window into the hearts and minds of the people who drift through the cloud of my words. Some are hilarious, some look like homework assignments going bad, some look like porn-prowlers, and others are a little poignant. All touched upon something I had written about, although sometimes they were related only in very obtuse ways.

Imagine what might have motivated a reader to Google the words "tell a love one i am dying." Is someone out there looking for an easier way to unburden herself of a dire secret? Will someone else know that secret before you read this? Will someone be crying when you do? (Google led this reader to a post here about what some trapped coal miners wrote in their final lucid moments to kin up above, and the post asked what you might say in your own death-note.)

But pity the poor web-nut out there who wants to read about a "bestiality charge" or see "Suri pictures." OK, both were subjects of postings on this blog, so maybe I shouldn't be TOO entertained by someone who is searching for such stuff! But Google (and my magic software) gives us a glimpse into the darker corners of some readers' lives, too.

Nontheless, it's a testament to the power of this pervasive medium (some readers yesterday came all the way from Kathmandu, Nepal, Lebanon, Tasmania and Dubai) that people with all manner of dreams, curiosities, fears, troubles and idiosyncracies can log on and find some little bit of what they seek. And I am fascinated by how often that path leads them here. Might we all offer something -- solace, entertainment, information or a few moments of mindless wandering -- to someone in this world? Well, maybe not in this world, but in cyberspace, yes.

Here's a list of search terms that led some readers to Under The News in the past 24 hours (explanations that are italicized in parentheses are mine):

elmer gantry cliff notes (cheater!)
why blacks are racists (probably KKK research)
playmate 2007 no pubic (gee, interview one Playmate ...)
erika hayasaki and vincenzo (he's the mummified man)
fred phelps hobby lobby (homophobes have hobbies too!)
metaphor in kite runner (still the best book in many years)
tell a love one i am dying
bestiality charge
(I was acquitted!)
todd leopold (CNN entertainment writer I quoted)
hugo guiler (Anais Nin's first husband)
drivers licenses homeland security
terry tafoya
(discredited inspirational speaker)
bonneville salt flats lawnmower record
suri pictures
(you know, TomKat's kid)
amy burridge (murder victim in my new book FALL)
a reptile dysfunction (Great headline, eh?)
outlaw word nigger (Brazoria tried.)
surreal life's ron kennedy (who shares a killer's name in FALL)
bears superbowl champion shirts niger picture
ron franscell
anais nin pronounc (It's "ahna-EES NEEN")
how stella got her tooth back (check it out)
hezbollah official site
world's fastest lawnmower
munich movie true story behind
brokeback mountain-sex photos
(I didn't have any)
skyline news chicago jewish graceland
under the news
smartest city usa (Beaumont, Texas?)
pickle muslim montana (I dunno, but sounds freaky)
daryn kagan and rush limbaugh (ack)
dead pool pics
games like slacker games (like, gnarly)


Jill said...

Ok, now you are scaring me...maybe you are big brother? Hum. Could this become TMI?

Ron Franscell said...

Oh, don't worry, Jill. This software doesn't get too personal ... hey, where did you get those bunny slippers?

Michelle said...

Just writing to put a name to some stats. I found your site a few weeks back when I was looking for recycling info in Houston. As a former Beaumont resident and non-native Texan, your amusing insights into the town, then news on Big Bopper kept me reading. I ventured back today to see what else you've posted and have been thoroughly delighted. Thanks for your ever amusing or thought provoking blog. --Michelle