Friday, August 24, 2018

The Students are Back

Sometime last year I received an email from someone in a school system in California. Would I grant permission to use a page on my site for part of their curriculum. Cool, I thought. No problem, I said.

During the following semester traffic to that page went up considerably as students did their homework. It was often amusing to see exactly when. Sometimes the highest concentrations were on Sunday nights. Or very early in the morning (Pacific Coast Time).

These kinds of requests come in from time to time. I suspect more frequently students doing homework find a page on my site without an official mandate. This is because usership tends to go up during school hours and on weekdays and be down on evenings and weekends.

I know this because I can check things like the number of users and their general location in what are called "user analytics" which is an obsession with businesses with websites. If you are in that world there are about a thousand ways to examine and reexamine the data collected.

I should mention, however, that I can only get a very general notion of who is using the site. Whenever I bring up the subject of analytics some people get spooked because they think Big Brother is watching them and I am Big Brother. I can't see into your living room, and I don't know your name. If, however, you happen to go to, say, the University of Someplace Really Cool, and you log on from a computer which is attached to a network that is labelled as "univ of SRC" I can tell that somebody yesterday logged on from that network. So I will have an idea of where students are from. On the other hand, if you logged in from home, your network will probably only tell me that somebody logged on who uses "Comcast" or it will spit out a string of numbers, so that won't be very enlightening.

Incidentally, a few weeks ago, I noticed somebody had been on the site from "US House of Representatives." I have no idea who or why or what they did or did not find interesting. I hope they weren't trying to build a case to cut more funding to the arts!

While we're on the subject, did you know that the average taxpayer spends less than a quarter per year on all the government arts programs combined? I don't mean 25%, I mean that shiny disc thing you have in your pocket with Washington's head on it. So while it may be popular to talk about cutting the PBS budget during Republican Congresses, just remember we are talking about literally pocket change. It's not going to balance the budget, even if you hate the arts. But it will diminish the quality of life for the rest of us.

Right now there may be dozens of school children cursing me under their breath because they don't like homework and they couldn't care less about the Greek modes. Maybe they'll thank me later; probably they won't give it a second thought. I hope a few of them learn something and better still learn how to learn, how to think, how to explore, how to live a life with the arts in it.

At any rate, traffic is up this week, which happens to be the first week back to school for lots of schools in North America. I haven't noticed any particular location or network hogging all the bandwidth; it seems to be spread throughout. But anytime there is a sudden five-fold increase in a page that has gotten a handful of daily users throughout the summer you have to wonder. It's nice to have the students back.

By the way, I also had three users from Finland yesterday. Howdy, folks!

don't forget to check out this week's homepage at!

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