What a Tangled Web We Weave…

I recently installed NoScript as an
add-on to Firefox.  I observed the Firefox application randomly
running my CPU up to 80% usage and holding, and I was pointed at
scripts as a likely culprit.  Indeed — as soon as I started
blocking web page scripts, my Firefox process CPU consumption dropped
below 5%. 

Of course, this also means that I’ve become much more aware of the
scripts that are commonly embedded in any number of my usual website
haunts.   One name that keeps popping up —
“google-analytics.com”.     A lot of sites use the convenient
Google tool
to capture and track information about their
viewers.  Hmmm…

Now, I’m a fan of reviewing web statistics to understand what’s being
done with my site.  As you might note, from the sidebar, I use Firestats to see what’s what with this
blog.  I don’t get (and I don’t want) much information — I see
information about the number of page views and visitors in the past 24
hours;  browser type/computing platform; and, where available,
referring page.    It’s good to know what kinds of
things people are looking for and how they get lead to my pages. 
And, that’s where the information stops.

If I used Google Analytics, I would be shipping all that information to
Google, where I would presumably have a dashboard with much more
complex results (as they analyze the data from my site, compare it
against data from other sites, and draw inferences).

But the difference in the model is kind of interesting:  instead
of you simply leaving a bit of a trace of yourself on my doorstep (with
Firestats), we’d be telling Google more about your browsing habits, and
my site popularity.  Great for Google — but I’m not so sure I’m
comfortable sharing that kind of information with a 3rd party. 

So, for now, I’ll leave NoScripts running and not let my web footprints
at other sites track through the Google databases.