Delusions of Grandeur : Stats

This season of my video show/stream/whatever is entitled “Delusions of Grandeur”, basically because the only way I could swindle myself into doing it was to pretend that I had an audience. I already know everything I’m typing, and I’ve already seen everything that I post as a video, so the only reason to post them is for other people to see/read them, for whatever reasons they might have.

The problem with this is that since the audience isn’t real, I do whatever I feel like doing. If I feel like playing guitar, I do that. If I feel like talking to myself, I do that. If I feel like making a 15-minute documentary about Harlem, I do that.


The Harlem Renaissance 5-Mile Classic

Because of this, there are lots of different reasons that people visit my site. They visit from all over the planet, but they basically arrive through a Google search. Maybe a couple of times a day, someone’s actually looking for me (or someone named Bill Cammack), but the vast majority of the time, people are looking for ONE INSTANCE of a topic that they were thinking about at the time and decided to look up on google, like Dating women in NYC and they end up here.

I know this because web sites compile stats (statistics). People go to major lengths to compile and analyze statistics in order to determine what’s working for them, what’s not working and what they want to do next or differently, going forward. There are some major problems with “analyzing stats”, however… rather… I *should* say that if you’re not sure what you’re looking at, you’re going to have a skewed view of your readership/viewership… AND… Even if you *DO* know what you’re looking at, you’re still not receiving information which accurately depicts what’s really happening with your media.

Originally, I thought stats were the answer to DoG, because you would be sure about the size of your audience. Unfortunately, stats are merely general indications of possibilities… not even PROBABILITIES in case you decide to post something similar in the future.

Stats are like getting hit in the side of the head with a tomato.

If you’ve ever tried to hit someone walking down the street with a tomato, you know what I mean. It’s hard as hell, right? 😀 Wind conditions… Judging how far they’re going to travel in the time it takes the tomato (or egg, if it’s Halloween) to cross the street… Anyway… The point is that when you post stuff to the internet, you’re walking down the street. People are on the other side of the street, throwing tomatoes at you, except you don’t know it because they never hit you. As long as it doesn’t pass your head close enough to make that sound or smash on the gate next to you, letting you know what time it is, you’re going to keep walking down the street like nothing’s happening.

When you make a post, it’s the same way. Unless you see stats or receive feedback from people, it feels like nobody’s throwing tomatoes at you. Thus, DoG is the remedy for inertia in that you imagine a bunch of tomato-throwers. MEANWHILE, depending on how you monitor your statistics, you’re actually missing A LOT OF PEOPLE that *did* hit you.

For example, Tyme White informed me that since I had been separating sections of my entries using the “more” tag, people with feed readers were only receiving the information up to that “more”, and unless they clicked through to my site, they couldn’t read the rest of the post. I removed my “more” tags, because I’d rather have people able to read what they want however they want than have them skip the rest of the article because they didn’t feel like accessing my site… or maybe they COULDN’T access my site, because they pre-loaded their readers and don’t currently have fast internet access or any internet access at all.

Liz Burr informed me that I could use FeedBurner to catch my audience’s feed reader stats. I wasn’t interested in going that route, because I used feedburner for my video blog for well over a year, and although it’s good to see which videos of yours are going out so that you can spot trends or popular videos that you’ve done, there’s something really important that it doesn’t tell you…..

WHO! IT! IS! :/

This is why your stats are a tomato to the SIDE of your head. When you get hit with it, you STILL don’t know who threw it! 😀

When I used to monitor my iTunes feed with feedburner, if I saw that in one day, 100 of my videos were downloaded once each, I knew I had a new subscriber. I didn’t know WHO that person was, AT. ALL. Therefore, I’m content with my current stats setup as an indication of trends of random people, and I’m not interested in even MORE stats of people who read my posts although I have no clue who they are.

IME, the net is immensely asynchronous and voyeuristic. I’m ‘guilty’ of the same thing. I don’t leave comments on EVERY video I watch or blog post I read. The environment only makes DoG worse, because in one’s own mind, your audience expands and contracts depending on how you feel about what you’re doing. If you feel like nobody’s watching… They aren’t. If you feel like Everybody’s Looking At Youuuuuu….. They Are! Ultimately, there’s no reality at all. It’s just you… floating messages in bottles….

I had a couple of experiences recently that made me want to ‘talk’ about stats. The other day, I was hanging out with a friend of mine, and I went to get out my iPod Nano (which I won in the NewTeeVee Pier Screenings game show audience survey contest. Thanks, Om & crew! :D) to show her this video I had done, and before I even got it out of my pocket, she was like “oh. I saw that.”…. :/ ….. This is always a shocking experience, because I don’t actually HAVE DoG. If I did, I would have assumed that she and everyone else with a computer had watched/read my material. It’s one of the few surprising things in life… finding out that someone knows more than I thought they did. 🙂

This is where I internalized one of the useless aspects of stats… for me, at least… What good does it do me to know that three people in Australia and two in the UK watched my video if it doesn’t help me to understand that my friend I’m hanging out with right now has already watched my video? I’ve had this happen to me lots of times. Most recently, I got in a car with my cousin who had some very interesting things to say about my Fame post. This was ANOTHER shocking experience, because I wasn’t aware that she even knew that I text blogged at all. It took me a while to get up to speed on that conversation, because I totally wasn’t prepared to discuss an aspect of my existence that I didn’t know she knew about… much less that she had thought about at all OR would have had any opinions about it she felt like expressing to me. 😀

The other interesting ‘stats experience’ was reading Mike Hudack‘s post on the blip.tv blog called “On Stats”. 99% of the videos on my site are served from blip.tv, so I found the first paragraph very interesting:

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few days about how video sites count viewership. This is an extremely important and constructive conversation to have. In general, blip is one of the most conservative video sites on the Web in counting viewership. We only count one view per IP address per session and we have a number of very stringent controls in place to prevent gaming viewership numbers, whether that gaming is intentional or not. We believe that it’s in our interests — and in the interests of the overall Web video industry — that we be conservative in measuring viewership. Failing to be conservative invites a backlash from advertisers, investors and content creators as they realize that they can’t trust viewership metrics offered by major Web video platforms. We don’t want to invite such a backlash. We want to be conservative from the outset.

Let’s say an IP address is the “name” of your modem that connects to the internet. If I understood the statement about the counting of blip.tv video views correctly, that means that if you watch a video of mine, then you play it again, it only counts as one view. It will also count as one view if your roommate watches it from the same internet connection. Similarly, if you tell your whole office to watch it and they’re all accessing the same router, they all count as hits from the same IP address. I’ll have to find out how long a “session” lasts, and like I said, I’m not sure I have the exact understanding of how blip handles the count. However, this makes sense, because it stops people from doing the old YouTube trick of refreshing their videos over and over and making themselves look popular & talented when they’re not.

The point for me, as a content creator, is that before I read this, I thought the count was the count. I was actually subtracting numbers of views from my videos. This video, for instance, currently has 315 views:


How NOT To Do Internet Video

Now… Besides the fact that I know more people than that saw this particular video because Kfir Pravda showed it at a conference he was speaking at in Israel, I would have assumed that maybe 200 people watched the video and the other 115 were re-runs. Of course, this doesn’t take into account situations like people downloading my videos and showing them to people on their computers or iPods, as I was attempting to do when my friend informed me she had already seen it.

You see how, again, in the realm of video, there’s the exact same “over/under” as there is in text blogging. Almost simultaneously, you feel like the numbers you’re seeing underrepresent your viewership AND overrepresent it.

Also, like I mentioned before, the numbers are useless anyway, unless you’re trying to sell a show, get sponsorship for a show or make money through revenue-sharing. Even if the stats tell me that a video of mine was watched 60 times from IP addresses in NYC, there are MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THAT LIVE HEEEEEERE!!! 😀 On top of that, according to Facebook, I have 271 friends in the New York, NY area. So, if I assume (ridiculously) that only people that have heard of me before are watching my videos, and not a single “random”, I still only have about a 1 in 4 chance of guessing who those 60 are. 🙂

The obvious solution here is to fuhgeddabouddit! Forget about stats altogether. They’re making DoG worse instead of better. More confusing instead of less so. The point of DoG in the first place was to kick-start my creativity process and answer the question “Why should I do something, film it and post it… instead of just doing it and enjoying it for myself?”

The answer, strangely enough, isn’t in the stats or the crowds. It’s not even in the audience of ten.

It’s in the One….