i realized that most users have never seen what tracking cookies in general, and google analytics specifically, actually looks like - and am running an experiment opening up an 'open' analytics account on my blog to drop the curtain.
over the holidays i showed my father how google analytics works. my father has been heavily involved as an investor in technology and the internet over the last decade, and is fully aware in a theoretical sense of what is possible to track and quantify, but was still blown away the sophistication and nuance that google analytics puts at your fingertips… i showed him how i could easily track activity not only from specific regions, but specifically from his company’s ip, over time, etc. all with the minimal setup of a bit of code and a few clicks.
i take the realities of this all for granted – in fact, i find google analytics quite frustrating and inadequate - especially because i can’t export pivotable data – but my father’s reaction made me realize that most people – even people who are very much in touch with the internet and technology - have never really seen firsthand what google analytics (along with the many many other packages available) make possible.
so, here is my experiment… i threw a second analytics tracking cookie up on this blog (http://www.wlessin.com/) - sorry, i know this is kind of annoying to a great many people who care about cookies, but i think it is worth it
to check out the account i set up:
username: wlessin [at] gmail.com
once you are logged in, click the ‘view reports’ link – which is where the fun tracking info lives for this blog
sadly, since i just started blogging there isn’t going to be very rich data to explore, but you can go play with the account and see what is possible and what at least some data looks like... obviously, i am taking it on a bit of faith that people will not be malicious and change the password on the account, etc… if they do i will deal with it – but for now i thought this would be a useful little experiment. enjoy – it is really cool, and worth thinking a lot about...