Just because something is easy to measure doesn't mean it's important (Seth Godin) [en]

[fr] Citation du jour de Seth Godin, dont je suis en train de devenir fan: "Ce n'est pas parce qu'une chose est facile à mesurer qu'elle est importante." (Contexte: nombre de visiteurs d'un blog/site.)

After having abandoned Google Reader during the crunch weeks preceeding Going Solo Lausanne, I heard about Feedly, installed it, and started to love it. (I’ll blog about it in more detail in a few weeks, but it’s a Firefox extension which piggybacks upon Google Reader.)

With Feedly, I’ve started reading blogs again — and also blogs that I didn’t read regularly. More and more, I end up reading posts by Seth Godin, and I’m becoming a fan. A few weeks ago, How to Organize the Room but in clear writing something I’d noticed before (atmosphere and interaction are better if people are a bit cramped). Saying thanks in a conference presentation gave me inspiration for how to do things properly next time around. And today, in Who vs. how many, he picks up on Robert Scoble’s post against the rush to audience and provides us with this “quote of the day” gem:

Just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean it’s important.

Seth Godin

This reminds me of what I was trying to say in Twitter Metrics: Let’s Remain Scientific, Please!, when I got annoyed by numbers thrown about under the assumption that they meant anything. (The post is mainly a video because I couldn’t type at the time, but I’ve been told it was well worth watching.)

3 thoughts on “Just because something is easy to measure doesn't mean it's important (Seth Godin) [en]

  1. As Albert Einstein is supposed to have said:

    “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

  2. I loved your Twittermetrics video. You should consider doing video more often.

    Although I like Seth and his quote too, in this case I’d tend towards agreeing with Oliver Reichenstein in his response to Scoble & Seth. An irritating 14 year old who can get 45 million views on YouTube isn’t stats jiggery pokery of the kind you dismantle in Twittermetrics. Rather it’s a stunningly massive participatory audience, and it’s definitely interesting to think about how that happens. He and his army of fans are going to be running our internet, no matter how stupid and insignificant we think they are, long after we’ve given up the keyboard.

  3. Hi Matt — thanks for your comment. Of course the Twitter metrics case I talk about and the “race to audience” of the specific case Seth/Robert are talking about are not to be put exactly on the same plane. In the Twitter case, I think we very obviously have a fallacy — a number which does not represent anything in reality. Numbers of readers are real, but underneath there is the same issue: we try to represent “worth” or “value” or “success” or “meaning” with a number, and there is very often a disconnect between that number and what we claim it reflects (just think of things like number of comments or number of readers to reflect how “good” a blog is).

    So, this is me saying I agree with your comment. Which doesn’t mean we mustn’t put into perspective those 45 million views, like Robert and Seth invite us to.

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