Tracking my Travels

I have returned from my brief journey to the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coasts so I’ll go ahead and wrap up this series of recent posts with a final entry. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m fascinated by the mapping tools provided with Google Analytics, and now I’ve discovered yet another use for them: recording my travels.
Google Analytics Map for New Orleans Access in Early April 2008
First, my apologies for the quality of this map. It was part of a screen grab that I then cropped and enlarged to focus on a particular region of the United States. This resulted in a larger map but with a reduced resolution. However it does tell an interesting story even though it’s a simple map, and even though it may not seem to be saying much on the surface. Here’s what one can conclude:

  • I didn’t have much trouble finding Internet access as I scooted along the Gulf Coast. A red dot indicates traffic to my website that originates from a given town or city, with a larger dot signifying more hits. The largest blobs sit right atop Gulfport, Biloxi and New Orleans where I traveled.
  • I don’t have a lot of web traffic on my site. If a single individual can skew access statistics then the base must be pretty small. True enough. I’ve designed the topic around a very narrow audience. If I’d wanted lots of hits I would have focused on celebrity gossip or professional wrestling. As a result I get about 100 visitors each day. So if I pop onto the site to update the blog or check for comments once or twice a day it will make a measurable difference.
  • I hit the site more frequently in Mississippi than I did in Louisiana. Actually that’s not a valid conclusion. I notice when I travel away from my home that new locations oftentimes do not appear in my access logs. On a hunch I checked the IP address for the hotel network I used in New Orleans and it corresponded to a site in Henderson, Nevada. That’s about 1,500 miles off! It must have been the location of the hotel’s Internet Service Provider and the circuits must have been honed to that spot. Sure enough, I had a bunch of website hits from Las Vegas and its surrounding suburbs during this period.

Simple maps tell big stories, but care must be taken to avoid unwarranted conclusions.


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