February 11th, 2011 by

If there’s one thing Internet users – and people in general – love, it’s progress.  Or at least the illusion of progress.  Admit it, you check repeatedly to see how many people “Like” your Facebook post.  If you have a Web site, you track your hits religiously.  When any number eclipses, say, 100, a twinge of elation streams through your veins.  What’s it mean?  Do people really like me?  Will I get paid?  You mean there’s a chance I’m not alone in this world?

Who cares?  It’s progress.

Fans of progress, therefore, will love SimpleCounters.com.   It’s a free and simple tool that allows you to – you guessed it – count stuff.  Whether golf wins, trains spotted, tacos eaten, books read, hearts broken, Zimas drank, minds blown – well, you get my drift.

SimpleCounters Home

SimpleCounters Home

The brains behind SimpleCounters laid it out on their site, confession-like: it was a quick project to “satisfy an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder craving to count the mundane.”  There’s something to be said about that; I imagine philosophers have written very compelling essays on the power of the mundane.  After all, relatively speaking, most things are pretty mundane.  And in our cubicle-ized culture, with people sitting in front of computers eight hours a day, why not let them embrace the mundane through tools such as SimpleCounters?  It can be liberating!

SimpleCounters is easy to use.  Upon registering, I simply – pun intended – clicked on “Add New Counter.”  I was then prompted to enter a “Counter Name” – in other words, whatever I was counting.  In this instance, it was Nutter Butters. (I constantly mourn my inability to secure truckloads of Tagalongs, the epic peanut butter cookie from the Girl Scouts.  So I settle for Nutter Butters.)

Next, I entered the category (Cookies), as there’s always the chance I’ll create similar cookie-related counters.  I left the counter blank, and naturally, it read zero.  (Interestingly, the counter can work in reverse as well. So if I entered, say, 19 cookies, I could count them down, all Cape Canaveral-like, until I hit zero.)

I also entered the units.  “Units” are simply the words that best describes the score.  In this instance, “Cookies eaten.”  I could also click on a date icon to select a “Due Date.”  This is to instill motivation such that the goal is reached within a time frame.  This latter part is particularly cool, for while I guess there is nothing inherently noble about setting a goal for the amount of cookies eaten, it does have other, more practical purposes.  Let’s say you want to lose weight before a vacation; the counter can track pounds lost.  Or days surfed in a week!  The possibilities are endless- anything that can be counted.

Once the counter is created, it’s easy to use.  If you have multiple counters, just click the category link to sort by category.  Then, use the “+” icon to add one unit and the “-” to, naturally, subtract.  Once you’re done, you can archive the counter, where it can it either be deleted or resurrected in the future.  Lastly, the “hide” button allows you to – that’s right – make the counter go bye-bye.

There is an additional piece of functionality as well: the Bragger Board, which shows off your achievements to other people. For example, here’s an ambitious jumping jack goal from a love struck romantic:

SimpleCounters- Ambitious Goals!

SimpleCounters- Ambitious Goals!

For what it’s worth, the Bragger Board is totally in synch with our culture of hyper-self-esteem.  (Fun fact: researchers at the Brookings Institution found that 40% of American eight graders agreed “a lot” with the statement “I usually do well in mathematics.” Pretty confident bunch, eh?  One tiny problem: only 7% actually got enough correct answers to qualify as “advanced.”  Oops.  In this age of outsourcing, falling test scores and a rising Asia, at least we have one thing going for us: delusional narcissism.)

My fatalistic and digressive judgment aside, the Bragger Board and SimpleCounters.com is fun, useful, and can motivate others, particularly when a group of people are sharing the same goal.

Speaking of which, as I write this, I’m up to my 84th Nutter Butter.  That really should be some sort of record, right?  It better be: my stomach is aching and I’m hearing colors and tasting smells.

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