On Imaginary Dialogues Between Corporate Executives

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I’m not liking this. Here I am trying to solidify my bid for inclusion in the Techdirt Insight Community as the resident expert on “imaginary dialogues between corporate executives” and somebody comes along trying to muscle in on my turf.

I mean seriously — authorship of such classics as “BellSouth Makes an Offer You Can’t Refuse” and “No, seriously, comparing two things is ‘non-obvious’…” should have that TDIC slot locked up for me, right? Well you’d think so, but then along comes John Gruber of Daring Fireball with Conjectural Transcript of the Upcoming Negotiations Between Apple and Universal Music and suddenly the field is wide open again. Imagines Gruber:

[…]
Jobs: But I have a better idea.

Jobs leans forward, and arches his eyebrows.

Morris: OK, sure.

Jobs: How about you take one of those white Zunes and you turn it brown, Doug.

Jobs beams the full Steve Jobs smile.

Morris: Pardon?

Apple Attorney: Mr. Jobs is suggesting that you take a white Microsoft Zune 30 gigabyte digital music player and insert it into your rectum.

Jobs: In fact, how about one for each of you? (Gestures to Universal attorneys.) Seven Zunes — that should double their sales for the week.

Morris: —

Jobs: And Universal Music will get seven dollars.

Jobs sits back in his chair, beaming proudly.

Morris has broken out in a bit of a sweat. He wipes his forehead.

Morris: Steve, I don’t think this…

Jobs: Doug, it’s not a problem at all. The Zunes are on me.
[…]

I’ve got my eye on you, Gruber…just make with the insightful commentary and leave the imaginary dialogues alone, eh?

Alexa and the Obligatory Rodney Dangerfield Allusion

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Update: Apparently Mr. Dangerfield isn’t that big internationally. Suffice to say he “don’t get no respect.”

Geoffrey Mack over at Alexa has quietly, obliquely, and a little defensively responded to the chorus of criticism that the search and ranking company has been receiving again in recent weeks.

While I’ll happily agree that Alexa’s stats and rankings should be taken with a large, asterisk-shaped grain of salt, I have a hard time working up to the venomous fever pitch that so many people display when discussing the topic.

Alexa seems to have become the punching bag that everyone uses to work out their frustrations about online traffic measurement. Everybody already knows that gathering stats via a user toolbar raises some questions, and that Alexa rankings for all but the top sites are flaky, and that Alexa can be and has been scammed, but people keep bringing up these same points again and again, as if they were meaningful revelations.

I think that the problem here is that there’s not much of anyone else out there to act as a punching bag. It’s not that Alexa’s stats are so terrible, it’s that they’re the only ones there to lash out at when someone gets fed up with the oneiromancy and aruspicy required to measure and interpret traffic on the Web.

As I mentioned the other day, figuring out what we need to measure (and how to measure it) on the evolving Internet is difficult; I believe that we’ll see some meaningful progress in the next couple of years, but as it’s a frustrating process I also believe that Alexa will continue to play the straw man for some time to come. Sorry, guys.

Page Views 2.0

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To close out what’s feeling a bit like Micro Persuasion week here on seamokeyrodeo, a pointer to The Imminent Demise of the Page View. Check the comments, well worth reading.

All in all, it feels like the “okay, we really need to figure out how to parse all this data” analytics wave is moving closer to shore. Just, you know, considering the posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, to pick a few that I have at my fingertips.

While I agree with Rubel’s premise, I think that framing this in terms of “the death of the page view” puts the emphasis in the wrong place. The machine-mediated nature of the Internet provides us with an embarrassment of data (as well as the tools to collect even more data as we come up with new ideas), and the real trick is figuring out what data is meaningful in any given analysis.

Page views and unique visitors were (and are) important metrics because they were (and are) meaningful, but they’re just no longer sufficient by themselves…ahem…if they ever really were. That much is already well known to pretty much anybody who works on the Web.

The big issue, then, is figuring out what we should be tracking. What are the metrics that will consistently provide us with meaningful information when applied broadly, across the diverse and eccentric Web? What does “Page Views 2.0” need to take into account?

Along these lines I’ve also got a little project on this topic that I’ll be rolling out in the next week or so. Watch this space or drop me a note if you want to keep up to date on it.