All Hail Zipf

An intelligent person with the memorable name of Zipf is behind the principle known as Zipf's Law. Zipf's Law is about distribution, and applies to all sorts of things. Take words in the English language, for example. If you were to run a few 100 MB of English through a frequency counter program, you would find that a few words occur gazillions of times ("the" springs to mind), while the vast majority of words (say, "discombobulated") occur only once. This is similar to the way, say, wealth is distributed in the world.

An interesting case in this respect is Web sites. Check out this table of Distribution of user volume among web sites according to Xerox Internet Ecologies Project:

% of sites% of Web visitors

That's right, if you're in the bottom half of the Web (and aren't we all), you attract less than 5.08% of the Web's attention. And believe it or not, that fact made me feel better about snowstone.
For weeks, I'd been busy redesigning my site, coming up with ever more profound and informative content, until snowstone became hilarious, profound, and dramatic *ahem*. I eagerly awaited for that one phone call from my ISP that I actually would like to get: the message that my bandwidth was exceeded beyond my wildest dreams. But no. The hordes of screaming fans did not present themselves. *insert sound of chirping crickets*
But now, I realize that it's not about your content; it's about your exposure. You basically have to sell out, post vile, controversial or extremely perversed content to your blog to get someone's attention. It's sad, but that is the way of the world --even on the so-called 'democratic' internet.
So if you, reader, are a blogger (which you probably are, if statistics are anything to go by), then by all means stop worrying about visitors. Get rid of that smug counter. Stop investing weeks and months into a better navigation for your site. And accept the that there are tundras in Central Siberia that have seen more visitors than your weblog.

Posted by cronopio at 01:04 PM, May 10, 2005