I had the chance to read “The Social Web Analytics eBook 2008”, which I might add is FREE! from www.socialwebanalytics.com and authored by Philip Sheldrake.

Philip does a great job in summarizing some of the most popular literature – citing such seminal works as the “Cluetrain Manifesto” and “The Tipping Point”. The content is really great, really concise, and is a very smooth introduction to Social Web Analytics (SWA).

I’m going to dive into some detail about the bits I thought were really brilliant, and the bits that I’ll contest.

I really enjoyed Philip’s polemic on page 15 where he goes into some good detail about algorithms and the problem with semantics and the tone of content. There’s an entire area of research around logic and computability, and there are all sorts of delicious problems. The Semantic Web will take off once we’ve solved, or at least wrestled down, many of those problems.

The specific quote:

“People perform as they are measured”

is by far the simplest and most robust description of the importance of organizational goal architecture I’ve seen to date.

The quote:

“The discontented spread their discontent. The neutral say nothing. The content say nothing. The delighted spread their delight”

Is 50% correct in my view. I believe that some neutral and some content do indeed say something (or choose their words differently) but not in very high volumes.

“Customers and prospects are mostly either neutral or content and contribute nothing audible and nothing visible for any search engine to stuff into their mathematics. Yet the opinions residing unexpressed in the minds of customers and prospects will exert an influence next time they need to reach a buying decision.”

I believe that we already have the ability to generate a massive amount of insight through a semi-semantic algorithm. If we were to load that thing into a spider and map the web, I think we’d actually find a few mountains of delight, vast plains of neutrality and indifference, and multiple deep trenches of discontent. I think we actually have the physical technology in a few places right now, it would just be a matter of getting the right people into the right room at the right time.

To the second part of the quote, what’s that term that we use to describe the fact you can’t measure both the velocity and position of an electron because just by virtue of measuring it, you’d be changing one of the variables? I know it’s an uncertainty principle of some sort, but, indeed. That’s what comes to mind from that quote.

Page 19, the last bullet point:

“Research is designed to achieve statistical confidence; engagement is designed to detect weak signals.”

Well — not all research, qualitative for instance, is about statistical confidence. And, indeed, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we can detect weak signals…type I and type II error are two sides of the same coin. 🙂 So, I take issue with that bullet. 🙂

“One trend to watch out for: the ability to spider, index and interpret multimedia content (audio and video)”


And Philip’s list of free tools and paid-for vendors is just great.

On the whole, the book is great. I was really excited to see it posted and was really happy that somebody had put so much work into its development. A huge thank you to Philip for publishing it. I consider this document a must read for measurement analysts and I think it’s a very valuable resource for the Sub-Committee on Peer Reviewed Research to take a look at.

2 thoughts on “Social Web Analytics is worth the read

  1. Philip says:

    Thanks for the critique Christopher… sounds like I should reach out to you in updating the ebook next year!

  2. 99% “Awesome”
    1% “Critical”


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