Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Long Tail of Reason and Sensuality

8 years ago, as spring turned into summer, I was finishing up a thesis as part of a Humanities graduate program. In order to get a few hours without distractions, I got in the habit of sitting down to work at about 11 PM and working into the wee hours of the morning.

The termites in our basement apartment were in some kind of spring swarm mode. The winged ant-like bugs would fly around, bang into things (including my head), fall to the ground, mill around a bit and then fly into something else. The hum of the computer fan and the sound of termites pinging into the bare lightbulb and thudding onto one of the stacks of books on the floor were a soothing influence as I wrote.

I finished the thesis, defended it and got a job completely unrelated to my studies.

Experience over the years has taught me to keep my answers short when people ask what my thesis is about. I guess people who are interested in 15th century allegorical dream poetry just don't run in my circles. But they are out there, and the internet knows who they are.

Millions of dollars have been invested in companies on the "Long Tail" theory that with so many people using the internet, there's bound to be someone interested in just about anything and that a broad collection of niche items that could never succeed in a strip mall could be wildly successful on the web.

So, last month I cast my thesis upon the waters of the internet, in part to test this theory, but mostly for fun. I've planned to do it for years, but just haven't had the time. I haven't even looked at the thesis since 2000, and as I converted the files from their archaic WordPerfect format to something I could use, it felt a little like blowing dust off some ancient artifact.

A month on the internet has given Google and other search engines time to find and index my gift to the world. So far, it's not getting enough traffic to cover the ten million I raised in venture capital, but there seem to be a few people out there who are interested in 15th century allegory. Here are some of the search terms that have led people to my thesis from 8 states and 5 countries:
Of course there are also the searches for "reason of thirst" and other, stranger, terms. I can only imagine that the person who came to my site by searching for "sensual literature" was fairly disappointed.

I'll try to keep you posted as the traffic continues to pour in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The sometimes on-target but more often misfired quests for truth and affinity on the internets always amuse me. Just today I ran across a related item.

(And I'll be delighted to carefully imbibe your thesis from a spider-ridden basement.)