Blogging without Stats
I read a post on Slate about the Pirahã who live in Brazil and have no words in their language for numbers. The article explains:
The language contains no words at all for discrete numbers and only three that approximate some notion of quantity—hói, a “small size or amount,” hoí, a “somewhat larger size or amount,” and baágiso, which can mean either to “cause to come together” or “a bunch.”
I was fascinated by the idea of anumeracy because I couldn’t imagine a world without numbers. A world where I wasn’t constantly keeping track of time, measuring ingredients, or focusing on word count.
Image: Denise Krebs via Flickr
It made me wonder how social media would change if we had no sense of our stats. Numbers dominate social media; rule it — more than quality content when we take things away from the personal. We are numerically-focused on how often we post. We consciously or unconsciously count up the number of comments, subscribers, daily readers. We are reminded of our number of followers or friends every time we log into Twitter or Facebook. And we internalize those numbers even when we don’t want to internalize those numbers. They mean something to us. They change how we view our space on the Web; especially when other people’s numbers are readily available for comparison.
How would social media change if we had no sense of how many followers we had? If we had no sense of who or how many were reading our words? Would we be more careful, mindful of the fact that we have no concept of our reach and therefore cautious about what we say lest it bite us in the ass? Or would it be freeing to not constantly focus on whether blogging or the like is worth our time based on the number of people our words reach?
Short of closing the comment box, not installing blog metrics, and staying off of other social media sites, it’s impossible in our number-driven world to be completely clueless of your blog’s reach in the same way that you may not have a sense of just how many people in this world care about you but you certainly can count up the people you consider friends. We always know the minimum amount even if we don’t always know the maximum. But sometimes knowing that minimum can affect the quality, the scope, and the frequency of our posts.
How would you blog if there was no focus for anyone on numbers?