Data and analytics are really interesting to me. Not enough for me to dive into the world of stats full time, or even mathematics, but I love identifying trends and trying to make sense of them against culture/emotional response. So for example my photography, my most popular photographs on Flickr have nothing to do with artistic merit specifically. Some art more artistic I suppose, but the nature of traffic comes from the internet driving information, so the more informative the photo is to a particular enthusiast group, I see massive spikes in those images. Then there is spillover from those into other works that are somewhat similar or relative. Here are my top 5 images from Flickr, and it's interesting to see why based on the data interpreted through that awareness of "driving information because it's the internet".
5 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/markheaps/10678701953/
(abstract with Steve Klotz and Jack Schultz. Why? Yeah they are cool shots, but it's a demonstration of the Canon G15 working in low light, and how I use the limitations of that camera creatively. It's basically a tutorial/use case.)
4 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/markheaps/124025652/
Phil Toole and Kristen Toole's engagement photograph. This has been stolen so much on blogs, pinterest, and alike, that I can't really nail it down. But my guess, is that wedding/engagement content is riffed on so much, people are just looking for information and references of ideas to use in that enthusiast group. I titled it 50s kiss, and I think the retro factor plays a huge effect in it's popularity. So it could also be the retro/vintage enthusiast information group.
3 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/markheaps/1150123197/
(Owl image. Up until recently this was the most popular image of all my shots of all time. It gets consistently commented on, or I get messaged about it. Why? Bird watching, and specifically owl enthusiasts are a large community looking for references constantly. They find mine and it's something they always want more info for. They are often disappointed to find that the rest of my work doesn't showcase owls, in fact this is the only one.)
2 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/markheaps/4723922094/
(Octopus Tattoo. This shot of Kristina's tattoo done by Jim Miner has been continuing to climb in popularity. With the advent of Pinterest, it gets shared around a lot. Why? Because tattoo enthusiasts are always looking for more information, more ideas, etc.)
and the most popular image now is...
1 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/markheaps/8384405968/
(this image is of my good friends Nate Vancil and Kevin Garinger of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades playing down south of Austin at a local ice house bar. It is the most popular image in my online spaces by a HUGE landslide, like more than double views. Are they great shots? Meh, not necessarily. They are of great friends, and good people, but the audience doesn't know that. So what makes it, well the information it offers. It demonstrates, again, the capability of this little point and shoot camera the Canon G15 in low light, I wrote specifically about that. I get views and redirects from Asia constantly and many bloggers have borrowed the shot to write about these types of cameras and their capabilities.)
So what does this all mean, can the internet be a place to represent art? Can it actually just be a gallery for viewing pleasure? Can art exist solely on the internet? Well, I think the nature of the internet is one of communication and information, what it was actually originally started for anyway. So still to this day, people are trafficking for information related to their interest, their enthusiasm. So if you have a particular group, and your images cater to that group, and you can span the gap between groups. You can define yourself across genres. For example, I know one friend had a dead portfolio until he started showcasing his steampunk photography. Suddenly he's huge in that realm, virtually at least. But he's scared of being stuck there, so now spanning the gap is the challenge. I average around 2000-3000 views a day between all the various portals I share work on. But still, the analytics show that what people are reading about is information for their interest, if it's a good sample supporting their interest.
I know this was a long post, but I find it particularly interesting.