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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.

numbersImage: 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?


1 Jay { 11.03.13 at 10:09 am }

It is an interesting question. We do blog for an audience; it is different from writing in your diary. We blog for catharsis, empathy, sympathy, and sometimes, other peoples opinions, or to disperse our own.

In my case, the last reason is the only one that is really affected by the stats. I know people come to my blog for information, and hence I am more inclined to put it out there, because there are many somebodies reading.

The rest? Not so much, in my case.

2 magpie { 11.03.13 at 12:12 pm }

honestly? i don’t give a rat’s ass. i used to look at stats…i gave up because i don’t care.

3 Laurel Regan { 11.03.13 at 7:05 pm }

I think I would blog much the same way – that is, my finished product wouldn’t change. But I might place different value on my finished product, and judge it more based on whether it was actually good as opposed to how many views/comments/likes it had generated. If that makes sense.

4 GeekChic { 11.03.13 at 8:01 pm }

If numbers weren’t involved it would be one tick in favour of me participating in social media. The numbers of friends, followers, commenters is part of what turns me off of social media.

Of course, the other part is that I don’t want anyone I know personally to actually read what I might write. Which seems to defeat the purpose of social media… 😉 So I’ll stick to writing in paper journals (and then destroying them after a time).

5 Mali { 11.03.13 at 8:12 pm }

In social media terms, I don’t think it would bother me. I want quality not quantity. I’ve never been into popularity contests (and would never win). I don’t blog for numbers. I’d far rather know that one person connected and found what I say helpful, than have 1000 followers. Though I guess if I didn’t have any followers I probably would stop blogging. And I’ve discovered that the number of comments is not necessarily reflective of the quality (to me anyway) of the post.

And I certainly don’t FB for numbers (I shudder at the thought) – I FB for quality, for connections, for the people I love, for the people who make me laugh, the people who enrich my day.

I rather like therefore the idea of a culture that doesn’t count. Think of the jealousy that would eliminate, the satisfaction of everyone knowing that they all had “a bunch” of whatever it was that was valued, rather than picking over exactly where in the hierarchy they stand.

6 KnottedFingers { 11.03.13 at 9:05 pm }

My blogging would stay the exact same. I no longer even glance at my numbers. I just like to put my stuff out to the world and hope it might help someone someday

7 Queenie { 11.04.13 at 6:34 pm }

Like I do now….when no one is reading. I blog for me. If people comment, that’s a nice bonus, but for me it’s kind of beside the point.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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