Circular Reasoning: Darwin To Purrington And Back Again

I admit to a certain amount of Internet vanity. While Google alerts for “Hal Stern” most frequently turn up the Cal professor of statistics or the Arizona real estate agent who share my legal name, Google Analytics tells the colder, bolder truth about my public persona: about 300 people a week pay attention. Discounting for parents, co-workers, and people who have my in a long-forgotten RSS reader, it’s probably 200 sets of eyeballs.

What’s interesting to me is where they came from, and why they’re here in the first (or more often, second) place. And every so often, I see traffic redirected from Colin Purrington’s blog. It’s one thing to get a spike in redirects after someone points at a post, it’s another to see regular, background radiation level interest — it’s a long-reverberating echo from someone who gets significantly more of a readership chorus than yours truly.

Curiosity and vanity got the better of me last week: There’s not much on Purrington’s site that would immediately make you think of a 50-year old extra slow hockey player who consumes too much science fiction. But a little searching on his site looking for references to mine turns up the saddle point. My overly detailed description of unboxing Cory Doctorow’s “With A Little Help” included my surprise at finding the Darwin sticker, and Colin picked up the cross-site sighting. Mystery solved.

Meanwhile, I discovered a great writer and a source of goodies that I’m going to forward again and again. I’ve already sent his notes on securing a research job to some folks, and I’m in love with his great ideas for subtle, civil disobedience in support of science. It’s xkcd meets Thoreau, with stickers.

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