Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 14, 2010

Measuring: Ten Thousand Clicks

Unless traffic drops off entirely, some time this week Under Western Eyes will register its ten thousandth “click.” Thanks to all of you who have contributed to that number.

10,000 clicks isn’t a Significant Number, insofar as representing any deep meaning. It might more meaningful if I were collecting a fee for each click from an advertiser. I’m not. If each click were worth a penny, I’d’ve made, uh (count count count) a HUNDRED DOLLARS. Whoo hoo! (I’m not certain what click-through rate advertisers pay, but it’s probably something like that.) WordPress is a little vague on exactly what those “clicks” represent, but I believe they are total clicks on the site itself or on any link within my posts, so they are not “unique user views” or anything like that.

However, doing a little math, I already know that UWS hit its first 5,000 hits on just about the 100th post, so that’s 50 hits per post. The second 5K will come on about post 189, which computes to about 57 clicks per post for the second 5K. That number is skewed by the outrageous traffic that my cousin, the Maine Outdoorsman, drove to this site on a single day just by suggesting to his thousands of Facebook friends that they click here, whether they read it or not. The power of a media celebrity! That day’s traffic alone raised the hits-per-post average by at least two points with just a few words from the Oracle of Portland, so let’s say 55 clicks per post instead of 57.

I can doodle all day with statistics like that. I remember being in college and talking to someone who was majoring in statistics. My mind reeled at the thought. That individual, I’m certain, is now retired, having probably made a pile in finance or computer science, while I’m still here plugging away for the foreseeable future. I do like numbers, though, in a layman’s way. Running laps on the track, I amuse myself endlessly measuring lap times, computing how much faster I’d be running in the first lane instead of in the second lane, beside the Counselor (you run about 7 yards farther per turn per each lane out from the first, if you’re curious). Hans Castorp, the protagonist of The Magic Mountain has what he calls “the counting sickness,” a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder that makes him count windows in buildings, telegraph poles passing by a train window, etc. I don’t take it quite that far, though.

As an extension of the lap-counting and time-calculating, I got The Counselor a GPS device to wear when she runs. Some regular readers will recall that I had some critical things to say about relying upon GPS as one’s primary source of “way-finding,” due to the way in which it decontextualizes one from actually knowing anything about where you are except the immediate, absolute spot where you ARE: you might be one block away from something you’ve always wanted to see, but the GPS only knows to keep you on your current path, and doesn’t care what’s left or right or above or below you. Now, that’s going to change in the near future as things like augmented reality are built-in to more devices and services, but I’m still a slow adopter on having that box on the dash of my car. CLICK HERE. to see the first of my three-part series on “wayfinding,” and continue to NEXT at the bottom of each page to see the successive articles, concluding with the post specifically about GPS.

However, The Counselor’s new GPS delivers an impressive amount of info about where and how one is running or walking or riding or whatever. You can record how far you went and in how much time. You can express that time/distance in minutes per mile (or kilometers), miles per hour. You can compute the number of calories burned per mile or per minute or during the entire run. You can have the unit start a new lap every time you pass the point you started, or every mile or every certain number of minutes. You can establish a variety of workout routines to follow; for example, start with ten minutes or a mile at a warmup pace, then intervals of sprinting or walking, or sets of 200 yards or 400 or 800 repeats. You can even set up a “virtual partner” to run at a specified pace; onscreen, you see two little graphic people, and you can see if you’re keeping pace with that virtual dude Once you’re back from the run, you use a wireless application to transfer the data to your computer. With that software, you can display a map of your run; you can graph your changes in elevation as you go up and down hills, and produce all sorts of comparative reports. Naturally, you can hook up a heart rate monitor or a pedometer to collect tons more info about your performance.

And there are other ways to “hook up,” with more soon to arrive. Many GPS-enabled devices already allow you to share your location, and you can share the results of your workout, as my brother-in-law, The Carlsbad Biologist does every day on his Facebook page. Augmented reality will certainly let you link your current run to how your friends or training partners ran exactly the same route. This rapidly evolving convergence of technologies is many things, including a test of how public we want our lives to be.

For gadget people who work out, their day has arrived, and technology provides a means to apply a new discipline to what we do, even if we’re not required to perform at a professional level.  For the rest of us, this is a reminder that there is a gulf between going out and jogging and truly making an effort to execute a plan that will lead to improvements: because, ultimately, the proof is the same: did you run the miles? Or if it’s the justification for that new guitar or new driver or new 5-speed mixer: did you practice and improve what you can do, or did you just spend money? Trust me, out on a muddy road somewhere, there’s kid who doesn’t wear a GPS or even a watch or maybe even shoes, and is growing up without riding in a school bus and eats whatever food there is to eat instead of a carefully engineered performance diet, and he (or she) is going to beat you in the next race. He RAN.


  1. You mentioned knowing what is around you, and that reminds me of a time when Piano Nan and the Carlsbad Biologist visited us, and we all went on the “Sound of Music” tour in Salzburg. As the tour guide led us on to the next spot that related to the film, we kept passing non-Sound-of-Music spots that she would pass and blurt out “there’s Mozart’s house” and keep the tour group moving. Those of us that might of wanted to actually see Mozart’s house, or the house where famous conductor Herbert Von Karajan was born, well, we were just missing the point that the Von Trapp Family Singers were much more important!


    • As IF there could BE anything more important.


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