Something intrigued me today: I was finding great difficulty designing in the morning, so I looked at my todo list and chose the opposite: figuring out how to install an nginx log parser so that I could get visitor stats (more on this later). This went extremely smooth, I was deeply engaged with the challenge and I found myself speeding through the task, understanding what I was doing at every step.

After lunch I had a nap and my REM activity was purely auditory: mostly rambling voices. Weeks ago I had a period when my REM activity was visual, and one morning I sat down to meditate and I could project how things would look even while in motion. At this time this is unthinkable, yet programming tasks seem easier. My hypothesis is that REM sensory hallucinations reflect on the ability to do certain kinds of work. Some years ago I asked my mother if she saw images or heard voices before sleep (I suppose this is an ongoing topic) and she said she always saw faces. She is a visual artist. When I come out of this isolation I’ll surely ask around.

The reason why I put so much effort towards installing custom software for visitor stats is because I’ve been circling around an idea on how to give advertisers what they need, while respecting user privacy.

I recall one time when I searched on a travel website for a specific hotel in Mexico and introduced my dates of travel. Some days later I booked it on a different website, but the advertisement for this website, telling me that there were still rooms available on the dates I had selected, was following me all over the internet. I was disgusted at their tactics, and soon installed an ad blocker.

At the same time, now that I need to cater to the needs of advertisers I see that it is utterly unreasonable for them to take a leap of faith and just buy something which they don’t know if it will be a good return on investment. The mechanics are valuable, since I will be selling stages. Advertisers usually track their effectiveness with a single empty pixel, so they know how many visitors are seeing their ads. The problem is, as far as I understand, if you have a Facebook account this pixel will identify you to it, and thus your privacy is breached, and the logo could follow you all over the internet.

This breaks the don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you maxim, so I could just register unique visitors and sell the stage on people who loaded the game. The problem is: there’s no warranty that a person who loads the website will play a sponsored stage, they would need a good idea of how many visits a sponsored stage would get. Here Google Analytics shine, you just send an event and this is registered independently from unique visitors, but this would entail the horrible experience of cookie consent and all that “we care about your privacy… but we have no idea what google is doing with our data” hypocrisy that pervades the web nowadays.

After many deliberations I realized I already had the capability in my own server. I could get the information I needed from nginx’s logs, I will use a marketing pixel on a sigle “sponsored” stage and this will register as the event, and then I could confidently sell a stage saying: “this sample sponsored stage has had XXXX plays this week”, and the information would never leave my ecosystem.

And here (goaccess)[] was godsent. Not only that, it will allow me to publish visitor stats publicly, to both users and advertisers. I’ll eventually come around to writing the Privacy Policy where I explain how this works in detail, but I think it’s a great win in the data-sensitive environment that we live nowadays.