Last night I was out for a meal and drinks with some friends and started explaining how I’d recently installed some code on my blog that allows me to track visitors like I’ve never been able to before. A few days ago I spotted a friend of mine who is an online community consultant visiting because he’s got his own server that he accesses the internet through. Yesterday there was a visit from someone at the Chicago Tribune, another from the Washington Post, several from a university in the north of England, and on most days there are at least a few from the BBC. And last week, my mom or one of her friends (she lives in a small place) visited too.
If you weren’t aware of how powerful this is, let me make it absolutely clear: I can see that, right this very moment, someone at a specific university in Iran is looking at an individual post on my blog, having read three other pages, that they’ve been here 11 minutes, and that they arrived after doing a search for something on google, the query of which I can also see. Due to the fact that the content being looked at could get the person looking at it from Iran in trouble, I’m not going to share the minutae of detail that I can see with you. Nor will I tell you what operating system they are using, what browser, or what size screen they have. Yep, I’ve got access to that information too.
I use a free service from statcounter.com and have posted a badge on my blog so that visitors can see that I do have access to this info but it can also be done invisibly, without visitors even being alerted to it. I’m guessing that most visitors to websites don’t realise that such a highly insightful – and personal – trail of information is left behind when they browse. Kinda spooky really.