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Web Personality

Boise State

I thought I was not going to rant about another stupid /. article, but I was wrong. Am wrong. Whatever ... that is standard operating procedure, as far as I am concerned.

I will write this before the BSU game is over ... add a little suspense (for myself, at least). In short: they are kicking UTEP’s ass.

It is not a huge secret that the Badgers suck this year. Not suck in a Penn State, Indiana, or Illinois sort of way. In fact, with the exception of the terrible loss to UNLV earlier in the season, their losses have been (mostly) close—3 points to Minnesota (37–34) on a last-second field-goal; 26–23 to Purdue; but 16–7 to lowly Northwestern. The better the opponent, the better the Badgers play. If the opponent is good enough (Ohio State, Michigan State) we actually win (the latter in a blow-out) ... the frustration for many fans, I think, is that they are so inconsistent, so prone to not showing up to play, that you never feel, “yep, got the game in the bag.”

My father probably feels a bit of the same when BSU plays ... things are too easy for them ... they demolish opponents (except for Oregon State ... BSU loses to ranked opponents, of course), and they rarely have to scrape out a close win. Thus there fear regarding the season-ending games they have against Fresno State, Nevada, and Hawaii (the other “okay” teams in the conference). If you are watching a game, that is part of the fun ... the suspense (proof, you see, that watching games is not about sports or sportsmanship, but entertainment ... we often judge games by the same criteria we might judge a movie). I, however, do not watch games on television; I have little interest in the sport, but if somehow I get drawn in, what I get to do is reload websites that post the scores, and I tell myself, I just want my team to win. Preferably without any “close calls” or “scares.”

Pac Man!

/. posted a story the other day (Nov. 14, 2003) linking to an article about Why Personal Websites Matter. First it is amusing what a circle-jerk the whole thing is, for /. posts to TechUser.net, which in turn posts a link back to the /. story linking to TechUser.net ... you get the idea. Since neither will post to me, I do not feel so guilty about posting to them. More importantly: the article is a waste (which of course explains why I am wasting even more time writing about it). Most of the information is obvious. Other so-called information is of questionable quality or veracity: “A resume can contain false information. It is much harder to fool people with a website.&r#8221;—I think the number of internet hoaxes speak to that topic, but I digress.

The author continues about how a friend of his is a top result for a certain Google search, and he continues: “He wrote that tutorial back in 1999. Unfortunately, he never read this article (he couldn’t have) otherwise he might have posted dozens of CG tutorials by now. His website could have been ten times more popular than it is now.” Right ... I think someone is channeling the parody-version of Philip Greenspun here. Now, the author is not a professional writer, so I guess one can forgive him such totally incomprehensible sentences as the following: “A personal site is a non-commercial website managed by a single individual. The website need not and should not contain private information such as family pictures, date of birth, etc.” Okay—need not and should not; the need not I can take, the should not makes the “need not” superfluous at the very least ... it furthermore seems to provide a definition of “personal site” that contradicts all other definitions of that term in common usage.

More Pac Man!

The author says his background is in CS, math, and business ... the latter part is what really shines in his excedingly annoying FAQ: “What content should I put on the site? Many visitors will find your site using a search-engine. This means they are looking for useful information.” Let me rephrase this into something that makes sense: many visitors will find your site using a search engine. This means they are looking for information related to the query they gave the search engine, which spit back your site as relevant. The author throws around the word “useful” and “informative” as if he were the second coming of the IT-messiah. He would do better in a marketing position: to attract visitors we should look to see what people are searching for most on the intarweb, and put useful and informative pages relating to these topics on our site.—after that marketing meeting, the business under consideration realized its best chance at drawing visitors to its site was by entering the adult entertainment sector.

This is not to say I think the author is completely off-base. For example, he is correct in assuming that most people using search engines are looking for specific information, and the specific information under consideration is not a picture of Fluffy the Wonder Kitten, age 6 months. I browse the logs produced for my site, and can see how people are reaching skrause.org—in short, they are *not* looking for information about yours truly ... instead, they are interested in Dinner for One, Compaq 171FS monitor specs, and Dead Baby Jokes. They do not come here to read my poetry, translations, or book reviews. But if that is all such a website were for, one might as well turn it into an impersonal site ... take out the personal part, the part the author above thinks is superfluous ... except for the all-important resumé, because after all, our (im)personal websites are really just a way for us to beg for jobs, right, author?

—November 15, 2003