What do we learn from observing which articles were most popular last year?
1. More Surrealism from Specimen Books.
First, we learn that the Internet likes it best when, instead of contributing something original, we recycle something old that was created by somebody else. In fact there are about two original articles on the Internet per day, of which one is usually contributed by Dr. Boli. The others are all reposted, reblogged, retweeted, and regurgitated from sources that are old or ancient. This is how Rupert Sheldrake keeps that same psychic-dog story circulating for decades, even though Dr. Boli once bestirred himself to write a letter debunking it in a printed newspaper outside his own celebrated publishing empire, which should have put a stop to the thing once and for all.
Second, we learn that people on the Internet really, really crave optical illusions and spend a good part of their day combing search results for new ones. This article has been around for more than five years, but it was still the second-most-popular item in 2014. We also learn from the comments on this article that the Internet is no longer the exclusive preserve of the unusually intelligent.
3. Which Ruthless Genocidal Dictator Are You?
Third, we learn that Internet success may be found at the intersection of Quizzes and Lists.
Fourth, we learn that our readers are preoccupied with religious concerns, such as the difference between free will and predestination. This, at least, is the lesson we choose to learn, after having rejected the more dispiriting lesson that readers are attracted to a dumb joke like moths to a hundred-watt floodlight.
Finally, we learn that, of all the periods in history up to the European discovery of America (or the American discovery of Europeans, depending on your point of view), the Internet likes the Viking age best, presumably because it most resembles our own Internet age.
If, therefore, Dr. Boli were concerned solely with popularity, he would fill the year 2015 with quizzes, numbered lists of Vikings, optical illusions, items reprinted from more popular sites, and dumb jokes. Since he writes mostly to please himself, however, you should not necessarily expect any of those things except the dumb jokes, which will continue as usual.