Who hasn´t heard of Alexa , in our current times, times when we are all interested and quite clever in self tracking ourselves with the use of technology? Who hasn’t tried once in a while to check what is the rank of his of her blog or website in Alexa ?
We all have been living in the age of information for the past decades. Lately, some of us have even ventured to proclaim that we are slowly shifting and approaching the most advanced stage of the knowledge era, that of the age of consciousness, with expanded awareness which is leading humans to slowing abandon old patterns and behaviours such as the flight and fly response, as these just don’t serve us anymore.
The knowledge era brought incredible change to our world, particularly with the internet, that gigantic web of connected information, our modern version of an Alexandra Library, now finally accessible to all. The web accelerated our world to dimensions of widespread connectedness, sharing of information and innovative action, that changed the world and something else: the way humans are, and the way we rewire our brains. People now rely on the internet to do everything that is connected to get knowledge, and while they gain knowledge, they become more aware of things. These things can be from practical facts such as how to go to a specific place or how to cook Ethiopian food, to finding out the bibliography of your favorite author. But we also rely on the web to communicate and interact with others, to collectively mourn our losses, or praise our achievements. The web is our glocal social forum, and our most praised social tool.
As we all spend around 3 to 4 hours a day browsing the web, what that means, is that we’ve been exposing our brains to a process of acquisition of knowledge, that has been changing and shaping the way our minds work, and as such, the way we are. Even if we are not aware of it yet, we have been moving beyond being just individuals holding a specific bounded “self” into becoming something else that is shaped by some of the web’s major characteristics: knowledge, information, connectedness, quantification.Image Source: Wired
Authors that have tried to dissect the impact of the web as a technology of subjectivityt that is shaping us, have approached the issue through various points of view. Kenneth Gergen studied how technology promoting an “erasure of the self” and the subsequent emergence of a “relational being”. Others have described the notion of the “quantified self” first approached in an article published in the Wired magazine in 2007. My opinion is that all these new words can help us define part of the experience of being a “self” nowadays.
Embodying the persona of “quantified selfies”, we become more interested in navigating in the midst of ranks and numbers, that tell us information spanning from your heartbeat to the quantity of minutes taken for breaks, to where you are in the ranks of page-views of your blog. We all know the feeling of anxiously “google analyticizing” our blogs, implementing the proper tools to optimize the performance of our web writings, checking the tweets we get.
The quantified self is defined in Wikipedia as a “a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking”. In short, we are now permanently embedded in self analysing and quantifying our daily life, the analytics of production of knowledge, the analytics of our own bodily performance.
If that sounds a bit terrifying to some of us, maybe it will bring relief to realize that in a certain way it was always like that. Maybe less and not so immediate as now, but humans have always been prone to engage in processes of production of knowledge about the human experience in the world, in processes of episteme, which can be understood as processes of quantification, of production of data.
The desire to know/ quantify ourselves is as old as history. That drive led people throughout times into making self portraits, writing poems or diaries that reproduced, described and analysed the intrincansies of one’s body and soul. Take the example of Michel de Montaigne one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, and the first blogger of our world, that invented the literary formats of the essay and that famously said : ‘I am myself the matter of my book’,Quote by Montaigne. Intelligenthq
His famous “essais”, published in 1589, were a collection of a large number of short subjective treatments of various topics, that had been written under the guidance of his dead alter ego Plutarch. Montaigne’s aim, he wrote and said, was to describe humans, and especially himself, with utter frankness. Montaigne pioneered a literary genre, the autobiography that grew considerably, until a point of explosion, with the blogosphere.
Nowadays two million blog post are written everyday, and part of these is dedicated to the written and visual experience of tracking and analysing “ourselves”. With so many blogs describing ourselves ( and its variances, such as our businesses solutions or our ideas as authors) how to rank them ? How to realize if they are read and by whom ?
Alexa aimed to do so, when it was founded in 1996. Its name, derived from the word Alexandria, the world largest library of antiquity. Founders of Alexa, BrewsterKahle and Bruce Gilliat wanted to produce a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the potential of the Internet to become a similar storage of knowledge. The company was then bought by Amazon.com in 1999 and went through many changes. Since 2014, Alexa provides traffic data, global rankings and other information on 30 million websites ]and its website is visited by over 8.8 million people on a monthly basis.Alexandria Library
Even though there is widespread disbelief in the rankings offered by Alexa, by experts and webmaster in general, Alexa´s long history of almost two decades, makes it a credible source of ranking. If you are an author, blogger or business, your Alexa rank is still kept in consideration as a source of credibility for what you do and write online.
We live in the age of the big data, where millions of blogs posts show up everyday. How is it possible to increase your Alexa Rank ? Osama Shabrez offers 15 tips on his blog on how to improve your alexa ranking. Shabrez advices about writing blog posts about Alexa (like this one), asking your users for reviews, to engage in other high profile blogs and post in its most interesting articles quality comments, and most and foremost to write quality content.
Whenever I hear about writing quality content, I think to my buttons, about the necessity to really think in detail about what quality content really means. In order to write meaningful and useful content, I believe that you as an author or blogger, need to pose to yourself a crucial question: what is it that you want to write/talk about and why ? how can it bring something useful to others and you ? How does it relate to your main interests and the services you provide with your blog/website ? To figure out what quality content is in a detailed way, it might help to make a mind map from time to time, about your website, analyzing its main focus. Identifying precisely what is it you do, makes it clear to you and others, what is it you are writing about. Then look for the newest and best information available about your topic around there and write about it always looking for innovative ways to do it, in a original way.
As we all engage from time to time into the persona of the “quantified self” human being, maybe this post will help you increase the ranking of your “self quantification” in Alexa, which might make your ideas become more available out there, in the web of knowledge.
Founder Dinis Guarda
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