Monday, January 27, 2014

Too Much-Not Enough Information

I get some pretty good statistics about the page-views for this site: country, city, hardware and operating system, search keywords, pages visited, exit links clicked. I can often tell when people visit from university networks, and can sometimes narrow it down even further. For example, I know from my site statistics that one of the fellows at the Katz Center reads sometimes from the office I occupied last year. And NYU's network even identifies specific computers when they are wired into the network. I don't do anything with this information except to occasionally make a mental note.

But occasionally there's just enough information to completely weird me out without there being enough information to assuage that sense of the creeps. For example, right now, right as we speak, there is somebody at NYU systematically reading through the archives of my blog. The mystery reader is on the wifi network so I can't tell anything else about his or her location within the university except that he or she is here. I have to assume it's innocent, but there's this nagging sense that I've been "caught." It's a patently ridiculous fear. I have always blogged out in the open. This is because I wanted to be able to talk about my work in a substantial way and my field is so small that even writing pseudonymously, I would have been identifiable. I didn't want to give myself a false sense of security that a pseudonym might have offered.

What's more, while I have strong opinions I'm civil in expressing them. I don't talk about the university or department politics or my students except in very general terms to write about the practice of teaching. I don't engage in offensive or high-risk blogging. (Okay, all the pictures of my cat sitting on my book manuscript this winter may have been a little bit loopy and even tedious, but hardly controversial.) But I still, right at this moment, feel exposed. And I'd hate to think that just the fact of blogging might be a risk. I've heard it said but I didn't believe it. I hope I can continue in disbelief.

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