The pitched battle for OTI Reader’s Choice 2011 continues in an earlier post, but the poll there may be methodologically unsound. When you ask people what they like—as any Nielsen family will tell you—they’ll report they like PBS and love brussels sprouts. To figure out what they’re actually doing, you’ve got to spy on them. And that’s just what we’ve been doing.
In 2011, Overthinking It served some 2.6 million pages to about one million unique vistors from 217 countries or territories including Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Isle of Man. They used the usual crop of browsers, including Firefox (35.02%), Chrome (25.33%), Safari (17.13%), and Internet Explorer (15.66%, including 8,640 visits from IE6, the bane of my front-end development existence until I decided just to ignore it)—but also something called Rockmelt, and more than a few visits from the browser on somebody’s Playstation 3. Two thirds of our visitors use Windows; one fifth use Mac OS X; one fiftieth use Linux. Of the mobile platforms, 6.71% of our visits were from iOS devices, 2.30% from Android, 0.21% from BlackBerry.
And here’s what they wanted to see.
#5: The Pseudoscientific Philosophy of Source Code
Its science is preposterous. Does that matter, as long as everyone treats it with the greatest urgency? After all, space travel beyond the solar system is preposterous, and yet we couldn’t do without ‘Star Trek.’”
—Roger Ebert on Source Code
Does that matter? Does that matter? At Overthinking It, it always matters!
#4: The Law and Order Database: Seasons 1-10
It’s kind of amazing this wasn’t a bigger viral hit all over the internet. Belinkie’s typically ambitious project—to catalog the outcome of every episode of Law and Order—was taken up by an extremely dedicated coterie of citizen ficto-criminologists, and his analysis correlated the data with the actual NYC murder rate and the controversial policing strategies of the Giuliani administration. Belinkie has never been afraid of taking on gargantuan projects, but this truly boggles the mind.
#3: Solidarity is Illusion: The Political Economy of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
The strong feminist themes of the series are built on a foundation of political contradictions. The most fantastic element of the show is not that ponies can talk or that dragons exist; it is the illusion that an egalitarian society can be maintained among groups with massive biologically inherent gaps in ability and economic utility. By even the most cursory of sociological and economic analyses, the society in MLP: FiM should be highly stratified along class and racial lines. And there are clear signs of that stratification, except they are obscured by a propagandistic focus on the power of “friendship”.
#2: Grand Theft Auto and the Problem of Evil
In a world where it is impossible to do evil, it would also be impossible to do good. And this is where it gets really interesting. Because if that really is the case…
…then Grand Theft Auto is not evil. In fact, Grand Theft Auto is the most moral video game ever created. After all, no other game allows us to choose not to murder prostitutes.
#1: Think Tank: The Economics of Death Star Planet Destruction
OK, maybe my intro was a little overblown, since as I type, this post is currently leading the Reader’s Choice poll as well as heading up this list. What can I say? Maybe the Internet has pretty good taste after all.
It’s been a great 2011, overthinkers! See you on the flip side.
Yay for being the 2.3 percent visiting the site on an Android device! Though using Dolphin HD instead of the stock browser of course.
Yay for being one of the 2% of Linux users. The main reason it’s so hard for me to rate the show on iTunes.
Those “more than a few visits from the browser on somebody’s Playstation 3.”? That was me. I’m serious. I use my PS3 browser for all sorts of things, including, but not limited to, how to beat the games on my Playstation 3. But aside from that, it was a great year Overthinking It, and I send out a hearty congratulations to all, as you have managed to deliver peculiar insights to popular entertainment on a top notch level throughout the year. So to Callot, Pete, all Guest writers, John, Mark, Matthew, Matthew, Josh, Shana, David, Ryan, Jordan, Tim Swann, Think Tank and OTIS, not to mention the loyal readership and special podcast guests, Happy New Year, and all the best in 2012!
I think we all know that I don’t deserve to be in a list with OTIs.
Those “more than a few visits from the browser on somebody’s Playstation 3.”? That was me. I’m serious. I use my PS3 browser for all sorts of things, including, but not limited to, how to beat the games on my Playstation 3. But aside from that, it was a great year Overthinking It, and I send out a hearty congratulations to all, as you have managed to deliver peculiar insights to popular entertainment on a top notch level throughout the year. So to Callot, Pete, all Guest writers, John, Mark, Matthew, Matthew, Josh, Shana, David, Ryan, Jordan, Tim Swann, Think Tank and OTIS, not to mention the loyal readership and special podcast guests, Happy New Year and all the best in 2012!
Sorry about the duplicate. That was done on my Internet Explorer Browser, not the PS3. Just so you know!
IE. Seriously the bane of my existence. Especially now that OTI is being redesigned in HTML5.
Speaking of which: This is a good thread for these because only very devoted overthinkers will actually read it. Here are some screenshots from the work in progress new version of OTI.
Keep in mind that it’s a work in progress, and everything may change between now and the launch. But I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts about these, and also about any improvements or changes you think would help your use of the site.
The grays and off-whites of a typical Word Press theme are to web design what Helvetica is to corporate logo design. I prefer a brighter, hi-contrast theme. Looks great so far.
The site doesn’t have enough easter eggs. Will HTML5 assist this?
More seriously, I’m one of those users who doesn’t like hovering for information. The first screenshot seems to imply a hover-over for Perich’s author-info, which is unfortunate on several levels. Getting the author blurb at the end leaves me with more resonance and a stronger memory of the person who wrote the thing I just read (as opposed to “am-about-to-read”). Also, the apostrophe doesn’t seem to encode right?
I wonder whether OTI readers are more or less predisposed to be resistant to change.
Yes, there’s a problem with encodings; they’re wrong (latin1) in my dev environment but will be right (utf8) on the site. Anyone who reads OTI knows I’m a stickler for apostrophes.
I’m torn about the hover behavior. The idea is to remove almost everything from our pages—which I’ve come to feel are too cluttered (even though I’m the guy who put all the crap there in the first place)—to really focus on the content of the articles.
A good example is at the top of our (current, circa 2010) sidebar– hover over the titles of the latest articles and a little balloon shows you the summary. You want to have access to the summaries, but it would be too information-dense to have them all there all the time.
You may be right that the author name is central to the content and shouldn’t be hidden behind a hover.
We may try a Konami code style easter egg. It’s easy to implement, but the question is… what should it DO?
Maybe take you to the Underthinking It version?
To add my two cents on layout: I’m alright with hovertext (like the info about the article), but oh please, no hovermenus (is that a word?). I click on the wrong link at least half the time when it shows up like the one in the last image there.
And yeah, I also agree that having the info about the authors on the page itself is important, especially for first-time readers or for when it’s a guest author.
I hadn’t seen that Law&Order database before. I think that was before I started following the site regularly. That’s absolutely impressive, and one of the neatest things ever. Congratulations to Belinkie and his assistants.
Those that don’t participate in the process cannot grumble about the outcome, but DAMN I can’t believe the Law & Order post didn’t make the cut. That was a thing of beauty, right there.
I’d just like to note this is the second year in a row where one of our most highly-viewed articles was about My Little Pony.
Them little horsies got legs!
Also, fun to see my Source Code post up there. That feels like ages ago.