The Canadian state has had an interesting relationship with networks since the beginning. Networks connect things and enable outcomes. Those who direct and influence the State have preferences for what those outcomes should be. To understand how the state is grappling with the consequences of social networks, it might be useful to look at how it has grappled with physical networks. We’ll begin with some basic theory about the Canadian State. Canada is made of citizens. Some of those citizens become leaders. Those leaders try to create some explainable representation of society’s optimal social welfare function, and package it into something people can recognize, understand and vote for. They do that because they need the consent of the citizens in[…]

There are many calls to break up tech. Break up what, exactly? Regulate tech? Regulate what? There’s a lot of polarization about what to do about Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google. That polarization is in part driven by anger. Dig a bit deeper and see fear. Maybe you’re feeling it. Here’s how I see it. The Assumptions People are heterogenous. Peoples’ beliefs are heterogenous. Peoples’ willingness to believe are heterogenous. Peoples’ inventiveness and imagination are heterogenous. Peoples’ willingness to tell or repeat stories are heterogenous. Peoples’ susceptibility to stories, and to storytellers, are heterogenous. Peoples’ need to belong are heterogenous. People form networks because they need to belong. Information (Gossip, facts, stories) is transmitted along those networks. These variables (information,[…]

Who do you trust to manage your attention? Because now that the news cycle has surfaced Cambridge Analytica issue¬†– that’s the real thesis question. Let me explain. How the Newsfeed manages your attention I really can’t understate just how powerful amplified engagement really is. When you overlay the like/share verbs on top of a network of individuals who all have something in common, or who procure people who have something in common, you get some pretty strong effects. Don’t believe me? Just check out the clothing in your drawers and the items in your fridge. You, my friend, are an outcome of considerable social contagion effects. Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm shelters you from a power law distribution of content that the[…]

An orthodox Software as a Service (SaaS) business is, in part, math that an organization tries its best to manage. Think about all the math that goes into the construction of a typical SaaS firm. At the core there’s some customer with a job: a goal against which the customer wants to make progress. They can have a mathematical representation in a database somewhere. A bunch of technologists write some code, which is all math, and a bunch of creatives take a few photographs, which expresses itself a mathematical representation, and some data is Created Read Updated and Destroyed in a database somewhere, which is all just more math. And it’s all abstracted by yet more math at the processor[…]

“The End of Facebook” trumpeted the headline. 46 points in 46 minutes on Hacker News. “Facebook Screws Social Media Marketers!” trumpets Business Insider. “Facebook is losing teens” states Global Web Index. Here we go with the bandwagon. Hop on! Only that this time isn’t going to be quite like the last time(s). Teens have fled to their smartphones They’re computers they can control. They’re computers that aren’t tied to the family room, where parents can seen them. Small screens offer a degree of privacy and intimacy that larger screens, even the tablet, just can’t replicate. Facebook saw that a long time ago and snapped up a few cool startups. Ditto Twitter. Ditto Google. And the rest of us are behind[…]

Kleinbl00 wrote an excellent synthesis of the phenomenon gripping Reddit right now. (Explanation of what Reddit here.) Here’s the link. Here’s the quote for posterity: “It isn’t a brain drain, it’s climate change. Early Reddit was an environment friendly towards tech geeks who wanted something more indepth than slashdot or HN. As such, it attracted erudite geeks. Middle Reddit was an environment friendly towards thinkers and seekers who were looking for discussion beyond what was available on the archetypal PHPBBs, news outlet comment sections and, notably, Digg. As such, it attracted thinkers and seekers. Late Reddit is an environment friendly towards image macros and memes. As such, it attracts ineloquent teenagers. Something Reddit did early on, under Alexis and Steve,[…]

Post frequency on the analytics focused blog, Eyes on Analytics has increased to daily. In part, this is to solidify the understanding of the frequency-reach curve in blogging, and in part, it’s an attempt to understand where the broader market is at. I’m testing three themes: How to fight nature’s pesky way of inhibiting our ability to make clean causal statements. The importance of imagination in identifying independent variables. The role of evidence in decision making. Simplification of a message is not pandering. However, many pandering statements are deliberate simplifications. If your optimization objective is to gain followers: Post often. Post simply. Post what people want to hear. I’m choosing simplification while avoiding pandering. Let’s see how that unfolds over[…]

Sometimes the components of a marketing channel will not add up to equal the total performance of the marketing channel. This is caused by any number of realities and limitations imposed in part by nature, and, in part, by you, the marketer. Consider the following deliberately simple scenario: March 2012 Impressions: Total Digital Impressions Delivered: 100,000,000 Total Impressions with Chicken Creative: 25,000,000 Total Impressions with Beef Creative: 50,000,000 Total Impressions with Pork Creative: 75,000,000 Something doesn’t make sense. I’m telling you that 100,000,000 impressions were delivered in total, but each component of that figure: 25 million, 50 million, and 75 million, don’t actually add up. That’s because creative can have multiple attributes. An ad may feature Chicken alone, Beef alone,[…]

So who keeps on downvoting you on Reddit? We’ll find out. But first – three notes: You may be familiar with Reddit. If you’re not – you can read this explanation about what Reddit is. To answer that question, I downloaded a dataset that was built in early 2011 or very late 2010. The dataset is a 29MB gzip compressed and contains 7,405,561 votes from 31,927 users over 2,046,401 links. You can read about the methodology here. The file contains three columns – a vote, a userid, and a link. Only people who had their privacy settings set to open had that data read by an API. There is no meta-data about who these people are in real life (IRL)[…]

Web Analytics Wednesday is tonight at The Wellington, in downtown Toronto’s analytics alley. It’s generously supported by AT Internet. There are some 40 people – representing among the best of the best, who will be in attendance. It’s a great opportunity for web analysts, social analysts, marketing scientists, data scientists, hackers, developers, and usability professionals to come out and talk about the great ideas and opportunities we have going on in Toronto. It’s also the first get together after eMetrics New York, which was a major, and had big time Canadian attendance. These tend to be among the more interesting evenings. It has also been some three months since the last WAWTO event, so there should be quite a few[…]