Since the web became popular I've scooped up domain names here and there, thinking something would come of them someday. In the early days of my own domain, I considered splitting phonezilla.net (my personal site) into two sites. I wanted to test out my creativity and see if it made sense to separate my journal and personal information from my art and work. It didn't.
I wasn't quite sure where that second site would go. I experimented. But there wasn't a real goal in mind.
Sometime after that, web stats packages became available and popular. The parts of me that love numbers started to love these things and realized, "Ah! This is one of the reasons I'm doing websites! Because visitors." Note that - not people. Visitors. Hits. Page views. Referrers. All of that became increasingly important to me to the point that reviewing my site's stats became a daily ritual.
It grew from there. How can I get more people to read my stuff, or view my web projects? Getting listed on Yahoo!, sure. Trying to get on Cool Site of the Day, sure. Just getting out to more people. Not necessarily the right people - just people.
Over time, traffic to my site picked up a lot. Many, many more people were visiting my site in the early 2000s than now. But because of where I was at the time, I let one particularly nasty and relentless troll get to me, and I took all of it down. All of it. I found a risk to putting one's self on the web: getting hurt. And I got hurt, bad. My ideas of numbers and connecting with people and all of that was blown away by one person whose goal was to make my life miserable.
So I didn't have a website for a very long time. Here's the problem: I missed it. A lot. It ultimately took me about 7 1/2 years to figure out what my website could do, and should do, for me at this point in my life.
I mention all of this because of numbers. That part of me that still loves to obsess over numbers hasn't gone anywhere, so I check the stats for my site regularly.
But there's a twist now: if someone I respect favorites or retweets something I post (and especially if it's a link to something I wrote), that feels very good. It has at least as much meaning as a big day in the stats tab, if not much more.
More importantly, I interpret that as a connection with someone.
And that right there is why I do this.