Glancing at the Numbers

I use Google Analytics to keep track of my site traffic. It’s fascinating to me to see who and what brings people here. For the sake of reference, I had about 2,100 pageviews from about 850 unique visitors in the last 30 days, the period analyzed in this data. My biggest month so far was a little over 1,000 visitors. From talking to other bloggers I know, I get the sense that this is pitifully small for a blog that makes money (never the plan for this one), decently large for a blog that you only expected to be read by friends, and maybe still even a bit on the small side for a blog maintained by someone who’s reasonably popular and interesting (e.g., one of the top Emily‘s on Google).

Google Analytics keeps a list of what your top-viewed pages are. These results generally don’t surprise me because they tend to correspond with incoming links from notable bloggers I already knew about. Today, though, I noticed something on the list that seemed unlikely to have garnered about 5% of my total pageviews from such a source: posts tagged as “Apparel.”

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Digital Déjà Vu

Musician/artist/writer David Byrne recently mused on how Ikea is like a video game (link via Boing Boing). He explains that the way everything is tagged with a label, the seeming meaningfulness of props, the tools at your disposal (e.g., tape measure, employees), and the implied task of finding appropriate stylistic combinations all amount to something like a real-world video game.

I wasn’t struck by the videogame-ness of Ikea upon my visit there, but I was hugely disoriented and amazed by the many living room worlds it had on showcase. David Byrne is right, though, that Ikea is a simulation of sorts, a kind of hyperreality. I can’t help but wonder if he plays enough games that it was invoking in him that feeling that so many gamers seem to find familiar—the déjà vu for the digital age, where you wonder for a moment if there was just a glitch in the Matrix, or if you’ve simply been playing too much Grand Theft Auto.

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Debating the Aesthetics of Web Design

About a month ago, Armin Vit wrote a post at Speak Up questioning why there are no “landmark” websites. We have examples of such designs in other media, such as Paul Rand’s IBM logo or Massimo Vignelli’s New York subway map, but have we seen any websites that are similarly aesthetically engaging and likely to remain influential to other designers for years to come? In the comments that followed Armin’s post, a few people offered tentative suggestions, but many instead attempted to suggest why websites simply can’t transcend their content in the same way as other designed media. Thus started a debate: Do websites even belong in the canon of graphic design? Can they even have artistic pretensions?

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