Sunday, March 16, 2008

Extra! Extra! It's in the papers!

It's a story we couldn't ignore. The names involved are fixtures in society pages, the instrument of choice is “that artifact of our times: a blog,” and the astounding numbers point to a phenomenon. It's the elephant in the room that the country's major papers and TV networks have ignored for about a week now.

But, yes, today's issue of Inquirer Lifestyle has finally taken up The Blog. The major story, a contributed piece, gives a brief recap of the controversy, but more importantly, explains why, in terms of numbers alone, this merits attention:

“The web statistics, on Friday afternoon, stood at: 270,000 visits since the blog started, of which 260,000 took place in the last five days. This amounts to about 36,600 visits a day, or 2,000 visits an hour during the waking hours. Each visit lasts an average of 52 minutes... In effect, the blog’s cumulative audience 'outrates' practically every TV show on the lesser networks and cable, and some on the leading networks’ daytime programming.”

In short, it's about to become a pop-culture flash point, a zeitgeist moment--the defining scandale of 2008.

No names or gory details for now, though--since the charges remain essentially unproven. Besides, everyone knows the cast of characters by now. (The Entertainment section does name some names and provide piquant patter.)

What the lead story focuses on are issues: the legal complications of a shame campaign conducted online, our seemingly bottomless capacity for gossip of the tawdriest kind, whether the brouhaha would actually amount to anything.

“It is in the nature of an existential question: How low does one have to sink in order to be fundamentally and permanently rejected by Philippine society?”

My “Schadenfreude” entry, incidentally, has been used as a companion piece to the main story--sort of an outsider's point of view. The commentary, with slight editing to fit the general-circulation tone of the paper, is now titled “And now, a word from a 'jologs.'

May I just say I'm glad to play Tennessee Williams again--you know, the guy on the outside looking in, scratching on the glass, viewing the whole drama askance from a distance.

There's a sidebar on the latest updates, offering word from the Pinoy protagonist himself and a couple more juicy bits. Since the blog has reopened and is threatening more bombshells, this real-life telenovela is sure to keep the country a-twitter for a few more weeks. Should be interesting to see how this pans out.

In the meantime, buy na!


sushi said...

read the article just now. i'm actually surprised it took a week to finally reach print.
the elephant is indeed on the loose.

sparks said...

I like the stats on how the blog has garnered more audience than the usual tv offerings.

While temporarily taking away the limelight from the ZTE scandal, the theme is basically the same.

The people (perceivably) on top of our societal hierarchy are nothing more than self-indulgent, morally bankrupt criminals.

gibbs cadiz said...

at least now the elephant's been officially sighted, SUSHI. :)

SPARKS, re your last paragraph, uhm, we're not sure about the criminal part, but self-indulgent, hell YEAH! :)

Amadeo said...

A bit of stats may have to be corrected. The average length of visit is unbelievably high at 52 minutes. A look a few minutes earlier showed only less than a minute (0.41), which is not unusual.

Sitemeter works this way. If the visit stays in only page of the site, zero time is recorded. Only when the viewer moves to another page in the site when the meter counts the time spent on the original page, and that's it.

Thus, very difficult to determine how much total time a viewer spends in the site.

I wonder how they got 52 minutes as average length of visit. Most unusual. Even heavily-trafficked sites with lots of text to read will only show minute fractions of a minute as lengths of visit.

gibbs cadiz said...

hi AMADEO, not sure how sitemeter does it, but--does reading the comments count? i'll speak from my own experience. the first time i went to the site, i spent 3 hours just browsing through everything, including the comments that by then were numbering in the hundreds. the comments are gone now, however--perhaps that should explain why visit lengths have gone drastically down. those comments were the ones that kept people glued to or endlessly refreshing the site, at least from my experience. :)

Amadeo said...

Gibbs, One can stay on the site for hours and if one stays on the same page, no time is recorded until one moves to another page within the same site or another site. Then Sitemeter records the time spent on the first page from beginning to clicking out. That's what is recorded in Sitemeter.

Except that after a certain number of time (I forget how long now) on that page, Sitemeter will begin to record that as another visit from the same IP. Assuming one stays for 6 hours in one site and the cut-off time is 3 hours, then that visit will be recorded as 2.

Try this. Sit on your first page for a certain number of minutes, after which click out to your Sitemeter stats and the length of visit will show as 0 for that visit.

BTW, like most of us the aforementioned blog uses the free version of Sitemeter, recording only the last 100 visits and with very trimmed-down features of Sitemeter.

Amadeo said...

Corrrection first paragraph: another page within the site or another site. Remove "or another site" because then visit will come out as 0.

Anonymous said...

I really have no sympathy for the characters of this brouhaha. I read the blog and it seemed that their circle is from another country or even realm. So far from the experience of the everyday pinoy. These are the people sitting and people watching in greenbelt, going to posh restaurants in malate and makati, those who go to exclusive and high-end stores. Whenever i go to market market and pass by serendra, these are the people who sip their coffee, seemingly unmindful of what is happening around them.

i have no sympathy for them because they seem to be UNREAL. with their own set of concerns which i would not be able to relay with. The Australian should have known better. he is old enough to decipher people. i bet if this thing did not happen, he would still with those persons.

in the end, this is just a story of a business deal gone bad. dead bodies along the way na lang iyung ibang characters.


T.I.M. Y.A.P. (readers of Brian's blog would know what the acronym stands for) had an article about internet gossip in Phil. Star last Friday too.

Anonymous said...


I enjoyed your comment on this Brian Gorrell story. However, I wonder if anybody actually ever spoke to this "Australian". From his English, I would assume that whoever writes this stuff must be a Filipino, since he makes many typical Filipino mistakes such as:

I will never forget seeing Celine giggling like nothing mattered in the hotel lobby where I was being escorted through by about fifteen police.

Wouldn't that be "police officers" in proper english? And shouldn´t it be "when" instead of "where"?

I also think that an Australian would need more than half a year to acculturate himself to terms as the ever-popular Filipino "comfort room". Then there are all these misspellings (then again, he is supposed to be a landscape gardener, not a English teacher, but still....)

But other things that are strange include the fact that the writer seems to understand Tagalog, and how well he seems to know Manila, considering that he was supposedly here for only a few months. And then, there is this overtly melodramatic tone, that also does not sound exactly "Australian" to me. Well, maybe "Australian Queen", but I still think there is too much tearful hand wringing in this...

Well, anyway, just had to share these observations with somebody, unfortunately my wife is not interested... ;)

Have a happy Eastern!


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