Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Skimming - and why everything has to be social

Kajaani, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Helsinki, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Crossing, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Lake, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Night, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Car, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Here are some photographs from yesterday and today - one from snowy Kajaani, one from moist Helsinki, and four from Vantaa.

Today I listened to David Nicholas lecturing on the "Google generation", or on the topic whether the net is dumbing (all of) us down. Young people don't spend time at web sites, they skip (or maybe the word is skim) from one place to another, reading no more that 1-3 pages at one site.

Update: you find the program of the event here - it is mostly in Finnish, though.

And they always expect to see signs of visitors or personalization, such as "25 comments" or "Recommended to you because of your X".

The social aspect is especially interesting. Young people trust their Facebook (etc.) friends more than research articles. I guess this is a kind of filtering effect because of information overload. However, I do hope doctors are not following this trend in their profession... (Nicholas hinted that this may actually be the case.)

If a site doesn't have any social aspects, it is "silent", like a church, and the web users don't like that. There has to be signs of previous visits. "The Google generation" likes company, and the wisdom of the crowd is the best they know.

Also, Nicholas say, we all are "Google generation". All of us are changing similarly, although the young are changing the most.

However, despite the skipping and skimming, there is a part of the crowd which is being enabled in a dramatic way. They know how to use the web, and they also know when to focus on a topic. They are the (rare) elite of the Google generation, those who have the ability to read a book once in a while.

Well, all in all, it was an interesting speech, as perhaps only the English can do it. You have a feeling that some people have a gift which captivates the listener whatever they say. This may also have something to do with the classically educated English accent - a pleasure to listen to.

This skimming/skipping is also visible here at Light Scrape. Usually there are 1-2 page views per visit, sometimes 2.5 pages or so. And typically one visit lasts 1-2 minutes, occasionally a bit more. However, during a rare day some time ago the average time on site was 6 min 5 seconds - I don't know why. On the average, there are 150-200 visits per day, sometimes a bit more. I don't know how many of these visits are made by robots, though. Does someone know the internals of Google analytics, what is counted and what isn't?


David from Quillcards said...

You might want to read some of the stuff from Avinash Kaushik about Google Analytics. One thing he says is that just because someone didn't stay long doesn't mean they went away unhappy. For example, if someone goes to a dictionary site to check the meaning of a word, they might only stay on the site for seconds.

A question to ask yourself is whether you get lots of repeat visits.

I think I have looked at your site more than thirty times, probably more. I have your RSS in my RSS reader and when I go there, yours is one of the sites I like to dip into.

Fact is, I hesitate to open my RSS reader - I know there will be more than 1,000 items waiting for me...

David from Quillcards said...

I should have said that I agree with the sentiment in the article - I clicked the link but it took me to Mr Nicholas' page. Where did you listen to the lecture?

Oh! perhaps it was a 'live' lecture that you attended personally?

I think we are in the cusp of change. Information is coming in thick and fast. People are commenting that there is more comment than content. Some people complain of overload and some people are skimming the waves.

I can't see clearly enough what is happening, but it obviously needs stamina.

Juha Haataja said...

@David: You find the program of the event here - it is mostly in Finnish, though. So, it was a live lecture in Helsinki.

Juha Haataja said...

@David: Thanks for the hint on Google Analytics. For the last month, there were 2,816 Absolute Unique Visitors (whatever that means). And 45% new visits. However, I don't know how to interpret the "Loyalty" statistics, visitors who have made within a month 25-50, 50-110, 101-200, or 201 visits. Hmmm...

Davide said...

Take in mind that the most interested (and thus time-spender) readers probably use a feedreader and thus are not counted on Google Analytics (I think).

Anonymous said...

Try statcounter

Cedric said...

In my experience online analysis is not always accurate. I've had one site tell me that I received over 50 hits from a link on Twitter but the analysis on Twitter told me that particular link had been clicked on twice. And this was not a one-off occurrence. On one other web site I know for a fact that 8 friends visit the site weekly (I know this because we usually talk about it during the week) but the analytics on it tells me that I average 3 visits per week.
As a last example, analysis on my main web site tells me that the bulk of my traffic comes from finance companies or insurance companies. Considering the subject matter of my site I find that very doubtful.
I guess what I'm saying is, take it all with a grain of salt; meaning don't place too much importance on it.

Juha Haataja said...

@Cedric: Good to know, I sort of suspected that this in by no means any exact science. It was interesting to browse through the statistics, though.