Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's turtles all the way down

Some time ago I noticed that quite a number of those blogs that gather some moderate attention (by that I mean they are neither hugely successful, nor completely obscure) are dedicated to the topic of blogging. Which seemed odd at first, but after thinking about it for a while, I arrived at the following hypothesis: Almost everyone who starts writing a blog will at first do so without gathering any substantial number of readers. Maybe some friends that you gave the link to will read it occasionally, maybe some random visitor will show up who was looking for something completely unrelated to your blog, but who was brought to you nonetheless by some search engine.

Not that I did any research (Hell, no! Research is for people that are too lazy to invent facts), but I suspect that most blogs will always remain in this public attention limbo; nobody reads them.

But that certainly does not entail that you, the blogger will be content with this cruel reality. And this is where the blogs about blogging come in. They write about what constitutes a good blog, how to find interesting topics to write about, how to drive traffic to your blog, and so on.
They are dedicated to help you increase the number of readers of your blog. And since this is something that pretty much everyone seems to be interested in, those blogs have quite a large following (judging by the number of comments and their Pagerank).

But when I noticed this, I couldn't get over the circular logic of this whole thing. Those blogs write about increasing your traffic; it's a hot topic, so their own traffic is significantly increased. Wouldn't it be the most honest advice then to tell other bloggers to write about how to increase traffic? Turtles, baby! All the way down.

Anyway, when I thought about this for the first time, I decided that if I would ever start a blog myself, I would add another level to this bottomless recursion. From now on I will be giving advice how to increase traffic to blogs that write about increasing traffic to your blog. Watch out for the number #1 place that blogs about bloggers who blog about blogging.

Give glass to bartender. Take drink. Give drink to bartender.

It always bothered me that the sentence quoted below is not on the Internet yet (at least I didn't manage to find it anywhere). Behold, this is history in the making:

After thinking about it for a while, you are now quite certain that you are a huge banana.

EDIT: More than a year after posting this, the phrase still doesn't reliably appear on a Google Search, in particular the substring "you are a huge banana". And I have no idea why... maybe because I wrote the sentence inside a quote tag? The rest of my blog is indexed by Google just fine, it's only this particular post that seems to be a problem. How ironic is that, eh? Anyway, let's try to add some weight to this sentence, outside the blockquote tag this time:

After thinking about it for a while, you are now quite certain that you are a huge banana. Or perhaps, only the substring: You are now quite certain that you are a huge banana. Let's see if this was sufficient. I'll be back in about a year.

EDIT #2: It works now, about 1 month after I added the string another time in the edit above. Perhaps text inside a blockquote is in fact indexed less reliable during Google crawls. But that doesn't really make sense either, since the phrase is now highlighted even inside the blockquote (do an exact phrase search, then look at Google's cache of the website. The parts where the website matches your search are highlighted). But then why didn't it appear earlier? Google search, you continue to confuse me.

EDIT #3: The line is taken from Frederik Pohl's Gateway, by the way. One of the great text adventures of that period, surprisingly funny and tongue-in-cheek despite the rather traditional SF story, and full of excellent original music. I occasionally re-install the game (not much of an installation anyway), walking straight to the Virtual Reality room and enter the beach scenario, just to hear the music and annoy the bartender.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Finally, a rigorous proof for the existence of god

1. Let epsilon be the smallest real number greater than zero.
2. ????
3. Therefore god must exist.