Actual humans

I get loads and loads of attempted spam comments on this blog. They come in a steady tide of junk, seemingly from all sort of IP addresses and made-up user names. Of course they get filtered out before you see them, but I can see them when I look in my spam folder. One sad consequence of this situation is that from time to time a reader comments for the first time and I just don’t see it, because their comment has been drowned in a sea of overwhelming spam. I don’t mind the spam itself so much, but I do mind missing the comments of actual fellow humans with something to say.

Another consequence of the flood of spam is that I have no idea how many people are reading this blog. I do get a sense that there must be quite a few, because I keep running into folks around the world who tell me they are readers the first time we meet, and others who tell me that their mom or their aunt reads it regularly. After a while you get a sense of a lot of random connections, some large ungainly graph of human connections of which this blog is a part.

But because of the flood of fake spam “readers” I don’t know how to interpret any available log statistics to figure out the number of actual humans out there. I sometimes wonder whether it would matter to me, in terms of what I choose to write, or how I choose to write, whether the number of readers each day should turn out to average ten or ten thousand. On some important level it shouldn’t matter. If you start writing for an “audience” then the result is at best entertainment, and the entire enterprise is likely to devolve into a pointless game of maintaining high readership numbers.

I rather like this state of affairs, this sense of broadcasting from a lonely cabin in space, with just the occasional reminder that there may be some sort of crowd massed on the other side of my cabin door, waiting for the next interplanetary transmission. This way I can focus all my energies where they should be focused – unto a place that is unknown, and indeed unknowable, to spammers – the place that contains you, the unique and very real person who is reading this right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *