Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kevin Burton: The Numbers Don't Lie

Kevin has an awesome post on blogosphere growth up today. I encourage you to go read it -- it's a great example of how hype can be deflated by applying a little math to the numbers at hand. All credit to Dave Sifry for what he's built at Technorati, but I strongly suspect he got trapped in this "doubling every six months" thing about two years ago, and now he can't get out of it without the entire punditocracy falling on his head.

There were some other guys who got caught in that kind of hype cycle, too, but they were running a public company. The guys at WorldCom -- several of whom are now in jail for their lies -- were possibly more responsible than anyone else for the inflation of Bubble 1.0 with their made-up claim of "Internet traffic doubling every 100 days."

"It was an essential ingredient of dotcom business plans and conference slide-shows: Internet traffic, went the industry's favorite statistic, doubles every 100 days. The claim assumed unimpeachable status when it appeared in a report published by America's Department of Commerce in April 1998. Unfortunately for the telecoms firms that rushed to build networks to carry the reported surge in traffic, it wasn't true. So where did the claim come from?..."folks from WorldCom”, typically Bernie Ebbers, its recently departed chief executive, or John Sidgmore, his replacement."

Web 2.0 is all about disruption of the existing media and creation of the new. It doesn't require magical thinking or puffery. The revolution really is here.

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