Tuesday, March 08, 2011


The author presents a number of analyses on people's behavior from his work at the web research firm Hitwise. Being that it focuses on the internet, some of the observations already seem stale (Myspace?), however, it is still interesting.

One of the main premises is that more accurate data can be found by actually looking at people's web traffic behavior than by asking them questions. People are more likely to engage in cognitive dissidence when responding to surveys, giving answers that they think people want to here. Their actual web traffic, however, shows what they are really interested in.

While this can provide interesting looks in to modern social behavior, understanding it can often require filtering through noise. (An example given was predicting the results of a popular vote reality show - the most searched person would be expected to win - except when the searches appear from external sources.) There are interesting results that can be obtained from these results, however, like other tools, we still must work to ensure that we are properly analyzing and interpreting the results.

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