Sep 202011
 
Authors: Matt Miller

A few weeks ago I wrote a column titled, “Let’s kill Netflix like porn killed HDDVD,” and much to my surprise, it got four times as many hits on our website than the average article.

But after examining the wondrous world of Google Analytics on the Collegian website, I unveiled the truth: many of the people who viewed my column came across it by searching the term “Kim Kardashian porn” in Google.

It’s possible that my target audience is people looking for unwholesome images of reality TV stars on the Internet. And it’s even more possible that the only way I can get people to find my column is by tricking them with promises of unwholesome images.

My point with this is not to complain that people don’t read my column or that only sex addicts read it; my point is the general public mostly uses the Internet to find petty information. We stay away from actual news and issues like they are listeria-infected cantaloupe.

In the last 90 days, eight of the top 10 news searches in Google in Colorado had absolutely no impact to the general public.

Here were the top news searches:
1) Amy Winehouse
2) Hurricane Irene
3) Irene
4) Ryan Dunn
5) Winehouse
6) Tebow
7) Casey Anthony
8) Broncos
9) Denver Broncos
10) iPhone 5

The only searches in this list that could possibly have any association with the general public are Hurricane Irene searches. But unless you have family members who were threatened by the hurricane, this search will provide no information relevant to Colorado.

More importantly, I’m sure there aren’t many of us Coloradans whose lives were personally influenced by the deaths of Ryan Dunn and Amy Winehouse, or whether or not Tim Tebow starts for the Broncos, or the outcome of the Casey Anthony case.

Why aren’t we searching, “Colorado state budget,” “Colorado taxes,” “Colorado unemployment” or anything else that we as a state have stake in?

To put these numbers into perspective, the Pew Research Center found that 30 percent of traffic to news sites, like the New York Times, comes from Google News, which is where that list of searches just came from.

Through the instant access of the Internet, we can find any information we want to find. But with this access, we search for what entertains us, and not what actually matters.

The problem I have with search engines like Google is that the user is only exposed to the very narrow terms they are searching. There is no room to accidentally stumble across information you aren’t specifically searching for.

Back in the day, someone who was flipping through a newspaper could come across an article that they would never think to look for.

With readership of print newspapers plummeting, and 30 percent of online newspaper traffic coming from a Google search, how are we supposed to be exposed to the types of stories we aren’t specifically looking for?

I’m just as guilty of being sucked into my own personal informational bubble through Google searches, but I also browse news aggregation sites like Huffington Post and Newser. By actively browsing through what the Internet has to offer instead of finding a very narrow location, I am exposed to a wide breadth of information.

If it hadn’t been for a few forward thinkers interested in world exploration, we would probably still think the world was flat. Why can’t we have a little World Wide Web exploration?

There is news out there pertinent to our daily lives, but if we keep searching and reading about Kim Kardashian and Amy Winehouse, we may never find it.

We should at least try to use the Internet and find a new blog writer, website, news story or anything interesting that you never would have otherwise found.

There’s more to life than porn, curvaceous reality stars and dead celebrities –– you just have to put the effort into finding it.

And anyone who came to this column looking for porn, I commend you for taking a few minutes out of your alone time to read this column. And if you did make it this far, I apologize for taking more of your time than you would have spent watching what you were looking for.

News Editor Matt Miller’s column appeals to a very specific audience. If you are part of this audience, you can follow him on Twitter Official_MattM or read his column, which appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. He can also be reached at letterscollegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:39 pm

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