Thursday, April 10, 2008

Google Reader Stats, an Update; Plus: Googlegängers

And the moral of the story is: never start work on solving a common problem until you've done your due diligence to make sure there isn't already something out there that will do the trick.

After noticing in my last post that the standard scatterplots available as gadgets in Google Spreadsheets did not allow for multiple values to be plotted, I contemplated spending some time to put together a gadget of my own to do the trick. While this would have no doubt been a great learning experience (maybe I'll try it anyway), that plan was short-circuited when I realized that there was already a type of gadget that could be abused to serve this purpose:

Now the intended use of this gadget is way cooler than what I am using it for, but I'm also a little proud that I was able to hack it to serve my own purposes. It also has the nice feature that any viewer of this site can mess around and put different values on the axes (try it! you know you want to). These settings are not stored in the gadget in any way (try refreshing the page); however, Google has just introduced a way to persist data and presumably settings in a gadget. I wonder if it's effectively creating a shared document or spreadsheet for each instance of the gadget and pulling the data that way, which would be a similar structure as these embedded gadgets, or if it's a different way to store the data entirely.

Ironically, I'll probably share this very post tomorrow when I go through my Reader, thereby altering the stats. How meta!

And speaking of meta: I was just reading about Googlegängers. A play on the German doppelgänger (another one of my favorite words), "Googlegänger" is a neologism coined to describe other people who share your name, preferably that you discover by Googling yourself.

Inspired, I decided to re-Google myself, since it had been a while. I came up with some really great hits. There's Andrew Brett the model, Andy Brett the bird photographer, and, to coin a new phrase, my REVERSE-Googlegänger, Brett Andrew, the musician. So cheers guys, and best of luck.

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