I went on a small rant about social scoreboards the other day and have been thinking about social analytics ever since.
Remember that competition to reach a million followers between Ashton Kutcher and CNN? We’re mildly obsessed with stats related to us, and sites like Twitter and Facebook make sure to put those numbers where we can see them. Social analytics can be a powerful tool when used as data, but I worry when those numbers start causing change in emotions and actions.
One of the places I’ve noticed this affecting me is right here, on my own website.
For a couple years I’ve run Google Analytics behind-the-scenes to record the number of visitors and page-views this site has generated. It’s been fun to publish a piece and then check the realtime stats, but there hasn’t ever been any real reason to do this. I don’t write that often, no page-view reliant revenue is being generated, and the numbers aren’t anything incredibly substantial. Yet I would check them. Every. Time.
Even though GA doesn’t cost any money to run, it’s quietly put emotional tariffs on every piece I’ve published; subtlety tying the joy of writing to the number of eyeballs that read it.
That’s not a tax I want to pay anymore, and I’ve decided to remove any analytics that previously monitored this site. When I write here, I want to take as much joy from the experience as possible. By removing the ability to see who’s reading, I’ve given myself back the ability to write freely - regardless who sees it.
—Thursday, 20 June 2013